Quiet Desperation

As Bruegel would say, DIA is boorish and depressing


This lively essay needs an image to go along with it.

Please look up Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting “The Fall of the Rebel Angels,” and have it handy when you read the following paragraph about an average day at Denver International Airport on Concourses A, B, and C.

Myopia is on the upswing: Text call shove bump. Text call shove bump. Flash dash fling scatter smash. Flash dash fling scatter smash. Text text text text text. Repeat.

It was just another day, but it had holiday numbers.

Jennifer said, “We need a bigger airport.”

None of what an average traveler looks like, does, or goes through is ever covered in an airline commercial.

It is Black Friday in flip-flops.

Everyone is speeding into a new sunrise, head down, texting or calling, and dressed like it’s the Slobsville bus depot.

Not sure when it started to happen.

Preface: I am not Yves St. Laurent or Emily Post. I have no interest in fashion and red carpets and who is wearing whom.

However, I don’t go to airports looking like Moondoggie.

Cole Porter referred to a “glimpse of stocking as something shocking.”

He didn’t live long enough to see that anything really goes.

A few days ago I read an article about the new, relaxed dress code at public schools in Alameda, California.

I am, thankfully, not an Alameda public-school teacher.

Midriff-baring shirts are acceptable. So are tank tops with spaghetti straps, micro-miniskirts and short shorts.

I can’t see any good coming from this, except the attendance rate overall will be higher than ever.

One 14-year-old boy (who is probably thanking his lucky stars) said, “If someone is wearing a short shirt and you can see her stomach, it’s not her fault that she’s distracting other people.”

Back to DIA: It’s barefoot in the park at security. Flip-flops come off and all ages can be seen walking on flooring that is hopping mad with particulates.

I saw feet and other things that some people probably pay to see.

I dodged and Jennifer dodged. People came at us (see Bruegel’s painting) from every direction, head down, intent and oblivious.

You might think I’m kidding here, but the place is obnoxious.

Jennifer became ill from it.

There is a different mentality at airports now that is no different than swap meets and garage sales. Come as you are. Be as rude as you want.

And don’t forget your phone.

And don’t forget that the man next to the man next to the man wants hear you yell-tell exactly when you’ll be home.

It’s too late. It’s over. We’re bums. We’re selfish, self-absorbed bums, and there is nothing different or special about an airport.

An international airport is a 24-hour-a-day miracle of technology and organization and coordination. I see people who belch and cough and blurt, like they’re at home in a faux-wood paneled rec room, wearing unbuttoned pants after a bovine casserole.

I know Charles Dickens would love it if he were around. No one wrote about the foibles of human behavior better than he did.

Go back to Bruegel: That’s me, the inverted toad, bottom center. Conceded to what is happening all around me. Croak.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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