Free-Floating Hostility

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Look at me Way Up High, Look at me in the Sky, I'm Spazzing!

Another piece of the story from last weekend: flying. I hate flying. I used to be fearless, but after a certain number of flights accompanied by my mother, who would clutch my hand till I squealed and force me to ask the flight attendants why the plane was moving the way it was moving, I developed my own flight anxiety. I've taken to bringing a rosary on board, which makes me feel better (totems are obviously the best Catholicism has to offer the educated religious consumer), but the problem is I don't actually want anybody to see me using it. I don't want to look like I'm prosletyzing, I don't want to wind up defending the Catholic church, and I also don't want anyone to know how scared I am. So I've taken to hiding my light under a bushel by hiding my rosary under a pile of papers in my lap. I purchased my rosary at St. Patrick's Cathedral for eight dollars, and it comes in a little plastic case. This last feature is key, because it allows me to pretend I am not praying during takeoff but merely helping myself to a mint.

So I dislike flying under any circumstances, though I think I put up a pretty good shop-front. Ones neighbors, however, make all the difference. On my flight into JFK I had an empty seat in between me and the guy at the window. We smiled at each other conspiratorially when the door was sealed and spread out all our papers. Window man warned me, however, that he was drinking lots of tea and would be getting up to pee repeatedly during the flight. "If it's easier for you we could switch," he innocently offered. I was on to him, though, and said I would prefer to get up than to have to disturb him, the real reason being that having to get up every time he got the urge was preferable to being trapped behind him in the event of an evacuation. An hour into the flight I very nearly reconsidered when the middle aged, pony-tailed guy across the aisle from me courteously requested a "barf bag." Shortly after, he retired with his bag to the men's room, which I hoped that would be the end of it. It was not. I guess the next time the situation arose there was a line for the bathroom or something, because the poor bastard sat in his seat the whole time, ralphing strenuously into his bag at 120 decibels. Afterwards I asked him if he was okay or feeling any better, and he gave me what I have repeatedly described since as the tightest smile I have ever seen. It was a tough call, because on a flight between Northern California and New York it's hard to know which cultural rules to follow. Cali rules would dictate a gesture of sympathy, but uppermost in the thoughts of a courteous New Yorker would be the memory of how hard it is to keep civil when you're nauseated. I left Pukey Pukerson alone after that, and turned my attention to VH1, which was showing a Behind the Music on the music of 1992. The very worst came during the landing--the flight attendant was legally forbidden to get up and come to the guy's aid, and I'm sure you can imagine how that went.

On my return flight I had Mike next to me, which was good because I was fairly sure he wouldn't shove me out of the way in his haste to beat a path to the exit. I also had with me a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I was going to get my standard Patricia Cornwell airplane reading, but I accidentally read the dedication on it: "To Senator Orrin Hatch, for his tireless fight against crime." I slammed it back onto the shelf and decided to patronize another southern writer, one who I'm pretty sure hangs left cause he lives in New York and France now. I'm not really sure whether I'm supposed to like Sedaris or not, but the book was so funny I had great trouble keeping within the space alotted to me on the plane. I'm one of those people who, when laughing really hard, tends to lean over and put her head on the shoulder of the nearest acquaintance. This is poor plane behavior, even when the shoulder in question is married to you, and I got the distinct impression that the guy on the other side of me was annoyed. When the plane took off, I noticed him staring intently at my rosary, and after that, I swear, he started elbowing me for the right to our shared armrest. He also produced a truly unique noise at intervals of about a half hour; I think it may have been a yawn, but it sounded like "HOOraughrr." Somehow I never got used to it, and was repeatedly startled by the sound, mistaking it for more vomiting.

At the baggage claim I saw a certain scene play out that I've witnessed time and again in airports. A young woman reached for a bag to check the ID tag and make sure it was hers, but before she could do so a gallant gentleman had hauled the enormous thing off the conveyer belt at great cost to his musculoskeletal health. Having thanked him for his gallantry, the woman awkwardly explained that it was not, in fact her bag, and the gentleman heaved it back onto the belt. When, a few minutes later, the woman's real bag came around, she turned to her rescuer to find him staring intently at his shoes, and she lifted it off the belt herself, without a lot of drama. When I looked up from this little scene I noticed--could it be?--Pukey Pukerson from my first flight. He had gotten a trendy haircut over the weekend, and looked an entirely different color. He was standing right next to Mr. Hooraughrr, making small-talk no doubt about the spastic busybodies they had ridden next to this weekend.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at December 10, 2005 7:01 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Personally, I'd be happy that someone on the plane was doing the rosary thing. I'd derive the benefit, if there were any benefit, of prayer, without actually having to do it.

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