Thursday, November 18, 2010

I don't know about you, but I'd rather get felt up than blown up. 

I hate to fly. In fact, I really, really, really hate to fly. When the kids were little, I used to sip red wine from a plastic dinosaur canteen that I wore around my neck so that I'd have the courage to simply board the plane. Once on, I'd sip until take-off, drift into a drunken stupor and sleep my way to our destination. If Mickey Mouse had smelled my breath at the arrival gate, he would have put his four fingers over his snout in horror.

Then I discovered Xanax. I've learned to time it properly so I can force myself to walk down the metal tube that leads to the smiling flight attendants into whose eyes I stare pitifully for some type of spiritual reassurance that never comes (it is also here that I assess the pilot for sobriety and stability--as if  I, myself, am an example of those characteristics--ha!).

For me, that windowless "tube" is the most challenging part--- after all,this is the moment you can still turn and flee. Once you're over the threshhold, you have made your choice to actually fly. Especially these days when any kind of aberrant behavior (ex.wildly clawing at your collar and rolling your eyes---my un-medicated airplane demeanor) may cause leg irons to drop from the ceiling along with the oxygen masks.

People are complaining bitterly about the new methods of keeping us safe. I have serious doubts that these methods are fool-proof but the memory of 911 is fresh enough for me to accept that more thorough means of protecting airplanes are definitely in order. Do I want the full body pat down? Only if Clint Eastwood (yes, even at his age) is administering it. Will I submit to it, absolutely. It's over in a minute or two. There are far greater humiliations out there...and ones that take much longer. 

Do I care that some TSA agents may be stifling hysterical laughter behind the screen if I choose the body scan? Sure, but not enough to refuse on moral grounds. If anyone wants to put scanned images of my 52 year old you-know-whats on the internet or print out a copy to keep in their wallets, clearly the psych evaluation they were given before being hired failed to pick up that they are totally loco and need a different type scan or two (and a straight-jacket) themselves. In other words, I'll be uncomfortable and then get over it.

When the kids were little we did a lot of driving. We drove to Chicago and Minnesota and before I was married, I took a bus home from Phoenix, Arizona to avoid the flight and this was long before scanning--or substantive security measure of any kind. I flew a few times before all this hoopla and, despite my anxiety, airports were fun back then. The atmosphere was usually one of pleasant anticipation and even though I was far, far from my comfort zone, I kind of got into it. Now the predominant feeling in airports seems to be fear---of terrorism, blood clots, sitting next to a jerk, getting trapped in the bathroom, feeling cold, feeling hot, retaining fluids from the peanuts and looking puffy--it's a veritable smorgasbord of anxiety.

I will always hate to fly. It's an unnatural action....aerodynamics make no sense whatsoever and you know I'm right. It's pure magic every time a plane lifts off the ground and any flight that lands with its passengers and crew alive, qualifies as a great flight as far as I'm concerned.

I will always avoid air travel if possible and continue to advocate the building of a tunnel between Brooklyn and the European continent so I can, one day, see the sights over there without having to board a plane. Until then and as I mentioned before--I'd rather gelt felt up than blown up. Safe flying to you all.

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