Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ice Cream at Narita

Flying to Tokyo today wasn't as bad as I'd feared: I got a comfortable chair, food I could eat and the sun was shining when we landed.

(The last time I flew to Tokyo with ANA must have been in 1997, from London, when they still had rows of smoking seats at the back of the plane.)

They make you walk a very long way at Narita from where we deplaned to get to the gate for the flight to Seattle. No travelators here, just yomp yomp yomp down almost endless hallways. Perhaps it's to make sure people keep fit.

Narita has never been overblessed with fun things to do in the terminal; there's a few miserable cafes (complete with smoking rooms, glass boxes that contain the nicotine addicted customers, even more unhappy than the rest of the clientele) and a few duty free shops, which seem this time to only sell out of date electronic crap nobody wanted the first time, and booze. That doesn't feel like the future I was expecting.

They also have ice cream vending machines though. I thought this was a jolly good way to spend my spare change, until when the tub of ice cream materialised and I discovered there wasn't a spoon included in the packaging. Maybe there was a supply of spoons elsewhere, clearly captioned in tiny Japanese characters in a manual stored in the airport operations centre. There was certainly no clue at the machine.

I'm not one to give up at the first hurdle. Having taken up my seat and opened the tub and found there was no spoon, I resolved to eat it anyway. It was sort of like a waffle cone, for values of 'sort of' indistinguishable from 'nothing at all'.

I was sat next to a huge American bloke listening to Adele at brain fracturing volume on his headphones, while reading a manual about cargo loading protocols. What better way to demonstrate English manners and breeding to my transatlantic cousin than to try to eat 100ml of ice cream without using any cutlery?

The first bit was ok, as I managed to rake off the top of the ice cream with my incisors, but as I went deeper, I bit through the edge of the carton with my lower teeth as I tried to grip it. Cardboard isn't my favourite flavour, so I rotated the cup and then bit another hole through it. It began to get messy. The ice cream began to liquify under the pressure of my might jaws. Liquid ice cream dripped through the bite holes and fell onto my knees. I began to panic, as I smeared ice cream over my jowls and the cup further disintegrated.

A brainwave came. Probably my brain was freezing over, because it was a very sluggish brainwave. I tore apart the whole cup and took the whole, baby's-fist-sized lump of ice cream into my mouth, and then sat there, looking like some sort of hopeless fool, mouth now frozen from the ice cream, unable to chew, to breathe, to stop the ruined cup dripping more white liquid over my (up till now) pristine black trousers.

The deaf airline engineer paid no attention. Why do Americans like Adele so much? Every single bar and restaurant in New York City played her songs incessantly when we were there in the summer. But not as loud as this man's headphones.

I considered leaving the ice cream smeared across my face for the flight - perhaps it would assure me of an empty seat next to me. But probably not, alas.


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