Saturday, September 16, 2006


There I was.

Sitting in the back of a London taxi cab last night with Lisa Marie Presley.

We were racing across town in the midst of a rainstorm, hoping to arrive at the restaurant before the maitre d’ gave our table to another soggy tourist couple. Our taxi driver—contrary to the myth surrounding “The Knowledge”—had never heard of the street on which Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” restaurant was located.

Perhaps London cabbies need a little less Knowledge, and a little more Tom Tom GPS.

We made it to the restaurant fifteen minutes late—which, by Spanish standards, is fifteen minutes early—and were seated at our table without fuss. The food at Fifteen, BTW, was fabulous—each course being adorned with fresh mint leaves.

Lamentably, not a single course was adourned with coconut.

Now, you may be wondering why I was hob-knobbing about London with the King of Rock & Roll’s daughter, eh?’s not what you think. I could never fill Michael Jackson’s shoes. The truth is...Lisa Marie is, like me, a long-term employee of Acme Low Carb Tongue Depressors, Inc.’s Legal Department. And we were in town for a seminar entitled, “Managing Legal Risk.”

Did you know that 14,000 deaths each year are caused by the improper use of tongue depressors? Well...yesterday we learned how to manage that legal risk: Print “INSERTING INTO MOUTH MAY CAUSE INJURY OR DEATH” onto each tongue depressor. In both block letters *and* in Braille. That alone was worth the price of the plane ticket, don’t you think?

As is often the case with business travel, however, the journey wasn’t all smooth.

I left the seminar at 4pm. This, theoretically, should’ve given me plenty of time to make my 7:50pm flight. I say “theoretically” because my theory didn´t include one fundamental assumption—that my Heathrow Express train from Paddington station would be indefinitely delayed because someone in the next station got clobbered by an on-coming Tube train. How inconsiderate some people can be!

You can probably guess what happened next. All six million travellers on my Heathrow Express train picked up their bags and bolted to the taxi stand. As did Lisa Marie and I (aka, Travellers #5,999,998 and 5,999,999).

And, oh yeah....this all happened during rush hour.

Heathrow Airport is only ten miles outside of London. That’s an extremely comforting thought. Unless, of course, you’re riding in a taxi cab that’s cruising at only eight miles per hour.

We arrived at Heathrow at 7pm. I managed to check my bags and collect my boarding pass fairly quickly and—momentarily breathing a sigh of relief—rounded the corner into the security zone.

I say “momentarily” because there, in the security zone, were at least 100 travellers waiting to pass through two—TWO!!!—metal detectors.

It was a full 45 minutes before I found myself standing before a metal detector. To be honest, I’m not sure why they let me pass. The signs clearly said that no liquids would be allowed on the airplane. And by that point, all the clothes that I was wearing were clearly liquid.

Fortunately, my plane was delayed an hour and I arrived at my gate with twenty minutes to spare.

My plane landed at Madrid’s Barajas Airport at 12:15am. I arrived at the baggage claim area at 12:45am. And when do you think my bags finally appeared on the conveyor belt?


Apparently, all the baggage handlers were still eating dinner. Welcome to Spain, God dammit!

If my evening had a lone bright spot, it occurred when I pulled into my driveway at 2:45am and opened my mailbox. There, in a yellow envelope posted from England, was a gift from our good friend Euro Trac.

It was an Elvis Presley air freshener.

I dropped to my knees and—weeping with joy—tore open the plastic wrap and pressed the six inch cardboard figurine to my nose.

I inhaled deeply and pondered the irony that this Elvis Presley air freshener smelled so strongly of flowers—whereas Elvis himself smelled so strongly of B.O. and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Or, at least, he did in the 1970’s.

Anyway...I hung Elvis from my car’s rear view mirror and went straight to bed. One of the perqs of working from a home office is that you don’t *really* need to get out of bed until one minute before working hours begin. And this morning, I cashed in that chip.

I muddled through the workday as best I could and—after logging off of my computer—hopped into the car and drove to the grocery store.

And I was stopped at a red light, something caught the corner of my eye. It was my Elvis air freshener dangling from mirror. Or, more specifically, the back of Elvis’s right leg. There, printed across his thigh in block letters, was a message.


That Lisa Marie! She’s one helluva lawyer.


At 2:20 AM, Blogger Mrs. TBF said...

Glad you made it after all that hassle.
15 was good, huh? I've heard mixt reviews. Anyway, this evening, probably right around the time you were posting, our friend Andy - the Absinthe drinker, who stopped by for a late snack at our place (food is serve at all hours at our home) was asking when we were planning a visit to Spain. I'm thinking January or February? What do you think?

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you arrvied to barajas T4? and only needed one hour to get your suitcase? Lucky you, last time I spent more than 90 minutes and a couple of complaints.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger tatiana said...

Lisa Marie Presley is a lawyer?!?! Suely you jest. The woman comes across as an idiot!

At 8:32 PM, Blogger woman wandering said...

So the rabbits are talking ...

Yours sincerely
Alice, currently in Wonderland.

At 11:02 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said... Comment didn't show up, so let's try again.

Mrs. TBF: The Finns are invading Spain? Intriguiging! Intimidating! Intoxicating! Yeah...definitely the latter. The first half of January is filled with conflicts for me, but the second half and all of February are wide open...except for every other week (so let's be sure to coordinate if you guys decide to go through with your threat). It would be great to finally meet the VTB Chat Lounge's most famous married couple. And regarding Fifteen, it was a bit uneven. Some courses were great, and others tepid. But it wasn't paella...thus, my glowing review.

Anonymous: Isn't Barajas Terminal 4 incredible? It's the world's most beautiful airport terminal, yet the world's most inept when it comes to baggage handling. It's been that way each of the four times I've used it. But at least it's easy to find from the R2.

Lady Alice: I might need to eat a mushroom or two to fully grasp your Comment above. BTW...there was a woman in Terminal 4 that looked exactly like you. If she were carrying an EOS case, I would've asked.

And finally, to all...I'd be remiss if I failed to say the following: "Coconut!"

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Tatiana: Are you saying that you've never met a lawyer who came across as an idiot?

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

very interesting...
Great pic..

And yes when does rush hour not suck!

At 6:37 AM, Blogger tatiana said...

Of course I have! I am, after all, an attorney myself (though proudly state that I am no idiot - having been a former prosecutor & all) all I am saying is that she is too much a dimwit to be an atty. Laywers/attorneys may come across as idiots often times, but few are true idiots. Does this make sense? And miss presley, well, she just ain't laywer material - bottom line - she's no attorney, and if your company thinks she is - run!!!

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


But...but...but Lisa Marie came up with the whole "Inserting into Mouth May Cause Injury or Death" idea--thereby not only saving the company millions of dollars in product liability settlements, but also saving me the discomfort of having that air freshener surgically-removed from my stomach.

Is that not the work of a brilliant legal mind? Can John Marshall or Felix Frankfurter make a similar claim?

Speaking of which, shouldn't frankfurters also have similar warning labels printed on them?

At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

T4 is brilliant, best are the little signs saying 23 minutes to gate H, or 43 to R. And if you did wonder why there were lonely suitcases going round on the belt, check Iberia/Aenas bagage handling timelines, is says that after 15 minutes the first suitcase has to be on the belt, but never specifies from which flight :-(

At 4:52 PM, Blogger tatiana said...

Well said, Sal.
Ditto on the frankfurters. . .

I must admit - as much a dim wit as she comes across.. sometimes the most profound *legal* thoguhts come from the mouths of lay people. Ha!

Tell me, though - how did she come to work for a toungue depressor company? I mean - you must admit - it seems like an unusual choice of work place for a person of her celebrity

At 7:19 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


Were you expecting her to pursue a career in pharmacology? ;-)


At 7:38 PM, Blogger tatiana said...

I suppose not. :)

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


I have a confession to make...


At 9:54 PM, Blogger tatiana said...

Do tell. . .

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

If that's Lisa Marie, then I'm Red West.


At 10:26 PM, Blogger christina said...

Man, you Acme employees have all the fun getting to work with celebrity look-alikes! I think I can see the ghost of Elvis hovering behind almost-Lisa-Marie's head. :-)

Am shocked to hear that Mr. Oliver's restaurant wasn't up to par and have now demoted him to culinary demi-god.

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Hey Christina:

Mr. Oliver's restaurant was pretty darn good. And not too expensive. The only problem is that one of the courses (perhaps two) that I had were...uninspired. Not bad, but uninspired. Then again, three of the other courses were very good. was a tasting menu. I don't typically order 47 course meals unless I'm facing the electric chair. On the whole, I'd say...try Fifteen. It's in England, after all. The alternative is Spotted Dick at the local pub.

Just kidding, Brits. Really.

Sal (from the country that brought you the Big Mac)

At 9:51 AM, Blogger euro-trac said...

Yeah, thanks for the Big Mac!

Now I don't mind you taking the micky out of Brits - quite right too!
But remember, although we are not really sisters, Lisa Marie and I have rather a lot in common! :O)

Next time you're in London Town old chap, you can buy me a pint of good old English ale! :O)

At 10:31 PM, Blogger The Big Finn said...

Oh sure...milk the celebrity pic!

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Nyana said...

I am having a hard time to believe that's Elvis's daughter in the picture. Afterall, Lisa Marie Presley was a lot thinner (much like a contrived sex goddess) the last time I saw her checking out of my local grocery store (POS Tabloids).
Sal... Enlighten your readers, dear.

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Glenna said...

Okay, so that solves the mystery of why MJ was so hot to marry her--free legal advice. One of the great mysteries of the world solved. I can die peacefully now with one less question for St. Peter. Thanks, Sal!

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Of course that's not the real Lisa Marie.

It's one of my Irish colleagues who I've known for ten years...but never noticed the resemblance until I downloaded this photo.

Sharing a taxi with the real Lisa Marie? C'mon...she's royalty. And I'm not nearly so popular or well-connected.

At 12:10 AM, Blogger christina said...

Irish you say? Ah, NOW I think I know who that is. Well, she could certainly give ol' Lisa Marie a run for her money any day.

BTW - your pirate name is Butterfingers Diego. Absolute perfection, don't you think? That's what you get for posting that Lazytown link. :-s

At 1:47 AM, Blogger euro-trac said...

Of course you're well connected!

You not only know me, but you've got an Elvis Air Freshener...

You've only got to say the word and I'll have her nip over in her private jet to take care of business!

At 2:20 AM, Blogger Nyana said...

For someone who follows the celebrity scene from point of sale tabloid magazines, you have to give me credit for realizing that the lady in question is not in fact Lisa Marie.
Sal, you could be a celebrity and I would not know it. (God, now I'm waaay behind schedule here.)
I am off to purchase my first People magazine now.

At 5:04 AM, Anonymous Walt Now said...

Sal, this is off-topic -- I think -- but I just wanted you to know that here in St. Louis, Missouri, we just finished a bottle of Spanish wine (Osbourne Solaz 2004), a delicious tempranillo/cab blend, and you are the only person I know in Spain, so I just wanted to say, thank you. Thank you very much. [[ passes out ]]

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

sChristina: Yes...that's exactly who "Lisa Marie" is. Now you can put a face with her long-dormant blog. BTW...I like Butterfingers. It's one of those candy bars that I'd eat once per year at Halloween, think to myself "Wow! These are great!", and then for some reason...not eat another until next Halloween. I do have on criticism, however. No coconut in Butterfingers.

Euro-Trac: That's true. Once one know Euro-Trac, all other celebs fall into the B-list. But please don't send the real Lisa Marie to my house. I have a strict rule against allowing anyone who has slept with Michael Jackson to use my bathroom.

Nyana: If I am, in fact, a celebrity, you won't find me in People. You'll need to buy the latest edition of Weekly World News instead.

WALT!!! After 2+ years, Walt FINALLY left a Comment in the VTB Chat Lounge. So what if he was hammered when he wrote it. I do some of my best Commenting while sucking the last drops of tempranillo from a wine bottle.

Why is a visit from Walt important? Because his blog ("Walt Now!"...see my sidebar for link) was the inspiration for this VTB. Plus, Walt once had his picture taken with a Python (Eric Idle), and that pulls a lot of weight around here.

Hey Walt, I am very familiar with Solaz. It has a black bull on the label, eh? I probably shouldn't tell you this, but...that fine ol' wine sells for around 5€ per bottle in Spain. Now you know why business hours here don't start until 9am.

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Ms Mac said...

Phew! Thanks for clearing up the Lisa Marie mystery. I thought I was losing my mind for a while there.

At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Kath said...

Gee Nyana, it's a damn good thing that we Irish women aren't overly sensitive! After all, the camera adds 10lbs and there were at least three camera's in the taxi that night!
The not as thin as Lisa Marie contrived sex goddess.

At 12:08 AM, Blogger woman wandering said...

Lady Alice ... I snorted with laughter some 30 seconds too late.

I claim tiredness as an excuse.

You saw me almost in Terminal 4?
Clearly one of the clones who travels without the camera.

Some guy saw me in Brussels in my other life last month, and back in 89 I was confused when I saw 'myself' in Disneyland. We didn't speak ... what to say when you meet that other self, or one of many as seems to be the case with me.

Okay, you don't need to eat mushrooms now that you've come clean about Lisa Marie ...


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