– Insert Don McLean Joke Here –

I wanted to write this up last night – while it was fresh in my mind – but, unfortunately, the pie bake-off hotel only offers wireless in-room access…and, well, I had trouble. But I took copious notes!

My adventures started shortly after my trip began – while I was waiting at the gate at the airport, I noticed two women in lime green polo shirts and black pants who were pushing cat carriers. Inside one of them, I could see a little animal running around…which I initially assumed was a tiny version of one of those hairless cats. Therefore, I assumed I saw before me two examples of the crazy cat show woman my mother threatens to become if I don’t have children soon. But then a curious gentleman sidled up next to them and they said that they were from Sea World (fun fact: Shamu and I have the same birthday) and that it was actually a bush baby and they had been on the Martha Stewart show that morning. (It wasn’t until I landed that I learned there was a baby emu in the other carrier.) These women and the bush baby sat just one row ahead of me…and if I hadn’t overheard them talking to that guy, I never would have known there was a bush baby underneath the seat in front of one of them all that time.

I, on the other hand, was sitting next to a guy who kind of reminded me of that actor who played the mean ex-boyfriend in Music and Lyrics. I was trying to haul an awful lot of stuff onto the plane (but partially because I wanted to be able to liveblog!) and so I was a *little* nervous about one of the flight attendants catching me with two carry-on bags and a personal item, so I wanted to just sit down and stuff my stuff under the seat in front of me and sit quietly for the remainder of the flight. But, as soon as I sat down with all of my bags on my lap it became abundantly clear that all my stuff was not going to fit under the seat in front of me, so Campbell Scott asked me if I wanted him to put something in the overhead bin for me and I think I responded a little too enthusiastically and so I felt a little bit like a freakshow and then he said to remind him to get it down when we landed because it was in front of some stuff and would likely fall if someone else opened it…and I spent the rest of the flight thinking, “Don’t forget to say something…but don’t say it so overexcited next time…”

When we did actually land (but before we were at the gate and it was time for me to remind Campbell Scott to help me get my bag), I was thinking that I haven’t been to Orlando in a really long time. I went once with my mother, but my stepfather wasn’t in tow, so that means it’s been at least 17 years. And I remember my mom bought a whole bunch of little presents and I got to open one an hour so that I would be continuously entertained…so I was young enough to warrant that. (On this flight I felt like Campbell Scott and I were sitting among a lot of loud young people…but I am not sure I am old enough to say stuff like that.)

I was really nervous about driving…and it was dark and hard to read my MapQuest printout, but I made it without getting horribly lost which then makes me feel like I really can do anything. On the way, I saw a lot of familiar Southern restaurants…well, okay, only Waffle House and Shoney’s, but such eating establishments take me back (and everyone knows I’ll OD on nostalgia someday). I’m not from the South…but I lived there in an important time in my life and it therefore resonates on a certain level and sorta feels like “home” in a certain capacity.

In any event, seeing the Waffle House reminded me of the time my family from Wisconsin was visiting us in Georgia (it must have been for my high school graduation because I don’t think they came down any other time – coincidentally, I saw a high school sports team at the airport and some of them were wearing “Class of ’07” t-shirts and I thought, “Omigosh – I’m almost ten years older than you…”) and we all went out for breakfast before going our separate ways. The “kids” were going to go to Six Flags Over Georgia (and I think I made them see the Big Chicken, too). My parents and my aunt and uncle were probably going to go to Stone Mountain or the like. (I went to the laser show before I moved. Big disappointment. A cartoon on the mountain? What??) So…we all placed our orders and my sister got up to go to the bathroom. And I think it speaks VOLUMES about her that when she didn’t return for 15 or 20 minutes, no one thought that anything was amiss – in other words, it’s totally in character for her to get up and go do her own thing…so we didn’t think anything of it. Finally, our food came and we were eating and I was getting a little antsy because we had a whole day of theme-parking to do, I guess…so I knocked on the door and started to say, “Christine, the food’s here…you might want to finish up because we’re probably going to go pretty soon…” when she said, “I’m STUCK!”

I ran after a Waffle House waitress and said, “Excuse me – my sister’s locked in the bathroom…” and without looking up at me, she said, “Tell her to keep jigglin‘.”

So…I returned to the ladies’ room and said, “Christine? The waitress said to keep jigglin‘…”

And my distraught sister bellowed, “I AM JIGGLIN‘!”

But…the Waffle House waitress was right: moments later, the door popped open and we were on our merry way.

But, back in Orlando in the present day…the pie contest hotel is literally right across the street from Disney World and so there are gigantic souvenir shops as far as the eye can see. And when I finally saw the Sheraton sign up ahead and made a right-hand turn into the drive, part of me was a little thrilled to see “Welcome American Pie Council” below it.

The man at the front counter told me he’d upgrade my room when I checked in (and it was perfectly nice…but my view consisted of said souvenir shops and an Olive Garden). He was wearing a “Pie Festival” button. And as I was checking in, two women approached the counter, saw his button, and said, “Whoohoo, pie!”

There were few parking places left at that point, so I saw these women again at the back of the parking lot. “Are you here for pie?” one of them asked.

“Yes!” I said.

“Who are you?” she asked.

Now…my response might sound silly, but I wasn’t sure if she was looking for my actual name or my credentials, i.e., “I’m the 2007 New York State Lattice Crust Champion!” (I’m not actually the 2007 New York State Lattice Crust Champion.) So…I said, “You mean my name?” (She did.) And then I thought it would be ridiculous that she’d know who I am, so I just said, “Lisa.” And yet when I said, “Lisa,” she totally knew my last name without me having to say anything further.

I asked if she was baking, too, but she introduced herself (Linda) and said she’s running the competition. She asked if I was baking at the hotel the next day (sadly, I registered too late for an oven time) and she wished me luck. So…imagine that – running into the woman who’s running the entire competition in the parking lot. But it does beg the question: if she knew my name, does that mean that she’s really good with names or that there are just very few contestants? (I guess I’ll know tomorrow.)

That’s about it for April 19. I actually have a lot more to write about regarding the events of April 20 thus far…but I have to get baking! But as soon as Pie #1 is in the oven, I’ll blog my little heart out – LIVE! – once more.

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