It’s now 11:45 pm in Los Angeles. I flew from Burbank Airport to Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport early this afternoon, arriving around 1:25 pm. A little more than seven hours later I was on an 8:45 pm flight back to Burbank. Why? Basically bad luck. A Southwest Airlines traveller innocently (and, I have to say, rather stupidly) mistook my smallish black suitcase for her own and left the airport with it, leaving hers behind. But I didn’t discover what had happened until early this evening. All day long I was considering the possibility that my bag had been stolen or perhaps sent to Baltimore or Portland or whatever, and I just didn’t want to deal with this, certainly not in godawful Las Vegas with the dregs of Middle America waddling around in their shorts and sandals and summer dresses…I despise almost everything about that town, and being without a suitcase just pushed me over the edge.

It was my fault for not standing vigilantly by the McCarran baggage carousel earlier today. I decided instead to sit down and flip through Twitter and write a couple of quick emails. And then I made the grievous error of hitting the head just before the baggage carousel began revolving. When I returned my bag wasn’t there. No trace, no clue…the fuck? I went to the Southwest baggage claim office and filled out a form, etc. The baggage ladies said they’d almost certainly find it and call me within three or four hours.

I checked into my pathetic dump of a Howard Johnson’s hotel on Tropicana Avenue and then ambled over to Ceasar’s Palace. I picked up my “Admit One” press badge (thanks Mitch!) and attended the Warner Bros. presentation, which I found numbing and oppressive and mostly depressing. (More on that tomorrow.) But when I got out of the show I didn’t see a message from Southwest. Uh-oh. I started to ask myself what I was going to do. No suitcase meant I’d have to hit a market a mile or two away and buy the usual toiletries along with a couple of pairs of socks and underwear and maybe an extra shirt and whatnot, and I really didn’t feel like doing that. I was tired and irritable and made a snap judgment to bail on the whole Cinemacon thing and just head home. Sincere apologies to Mitch Neuhauser, but I’ll probably survive without the 2015 Cinemacon experience.

When I got back to McCarran around 7:15 pm a Southwest baggage woman (calm, smart, professional) wheeled out a smallish black suitcase and asked if my bag resembled it. “Yeah, somewhat,” I said, “although this bag is more slender, more womanish.” She informed me that a certain woman had checked two bags on the same Burbank-to-Vegas flight I had taken, but she left this one behind. The obvious indication was that she went home with someone else’s bag instead. “Sounds like a working theory,” I said. The Southwest woman said she would leave messages for the woman who’d (probably) absconded with my bag and destroyed my Cinemacon experience in the bargain, and I said thanks and farewell.

By the time I’d returned to Burbank the Southwest woman had left a message saying that the bag thief had returned my suitcase with profuse apologies, etc. My bag is definitely heavier and somewhat wider than hers and it has a distinctive, pea-green plastic tag looped around the top handle. How dizzy do you have to be to snag someone else’s suitcase when it’s not that close a resemblance to your own, and is certainly no dead ringer?