Friday, September 23, 2011

Up in the Air, Part One.

What are you doing this weekend? I'll trade you.

I have to schedule a couple of flights.

The kind you take in an airplane. In the air. High up.

Have I mentioned that I'm afraid to fly? If I haven't, I know you're not surprised. It makes perfect sense based on all the insanity I've already admitted about myself.

I do not believe that man was meant to travel by air. It's a total cliche but wouldn't we actually have wings if this weren't the case? Of course we would, people. Snap out of it.
 Oprah has wings.

Many middle-aged women develop "wings" in an unfortunate sense but this has nothing to do with actually flying and everything to do with wearing sleeves.

But no amount of dawdling (see above paragraph) will eliminate the inevitable and I must force myself to do what must be done.

Seth and his family (including the insensitive traitors to whom I bestowed the gift of life...and, in particular, a pair of Ray Bans for a recent birthday) do not even attempt to understand my anxiety.

They are naturally thin. What can you expect?

Seth is constantly reminding me that I am far more likely to perish in a car accident close to home which always makes me wonder what he has up his sleeve.

Once upon a time, he suggested one of those programs sponsored by the airlines in which you take simulated flights for a few days. That would be fine. Simulated flights do not leave the ground.

The problem lies in the fact that the culmination of the program is a real flight.

Why would I do that? I'm scared to fly, remember?


I first flew when I was 21. All alone to visit a father I hadn't seen in over fifteen years, not only was I terrified of my destination but I had already realized that this ridiculously heavy metal tube I was about to board had no business lumbering about on the tarmac much less attempting take-off.

It was a large plane, but the seats on my side were two across. My seat mate was a huge air force officer on his way home to California.

In full dress uniform, he seemed pleased to be sitting next to a young girl who could still wear tight jeans without the dog catcher trying to coax her into the back of his impound vehicle--if you catch my meaning. And, upon discerning that I was nervous (the weeping and hyperventilating may have given it away), took it upon himself to explain, in excruciating detail, the laws of thrust, speed, wind and lift.

Since this is all fabricated nonsense that can be replaced with one word--magic, these explanations did not help.

Not only that but, since I was scared, he insisted upon -- and I swear this is true -- holding my hand. I was mild mannered at 21. He was older and, based on the aforementioned destination, I already had some issues with men and didn't want to offend this weirdo/predator/authority figure. So I allowed it, grateful when he fell asleep so that I would be able to extricate my hand.

Today, I would have told him that when strangers talk to me on planes, toxic gas comes out of my eyeballs. Not that any of this would have happened to a woman of my current age. The same guy whose tail started to wag when he saw me approaching, would put a magazine over my face and rest his can of pineapple juice on my head today.

But back to my imprisoned hand...

As I tried to liberate my fingers, despite his apparent slumber, upon each attempt, he would simply tighten his grip. At one point, he opened his eyes, looked right at me and said, "Baby, we're following the sun." 

He really said that. Total ewwwwwwwww.

I was so flummoxed by all of this that I gave up and sat for nearly six hours (bladders are cast iron when you're 21) with my hand in his. It was horrible. I kept making desperate eye contact with the stewardess (still stewardesses back then) but she thought we were together and made no attempt to save me.

As I mentioned before, this is ALL true. Only it was worse than it sounds because not only was I terrified to fly but I was now terrified of him.

That was my first experience up in the air, ladies and gentlemen. It is small wonder that I still dread the idea of flying....but there's more and it involves drinking and prescription drugs. Look for the next installment on Monday.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!


  1. I'm so sorry you have such anxiety about flying. I absolutley love it and would do so every day given the chance.

  2. Holy cow! Creep! Ew! WTH?

    I always end up next to chatters and guys that insist taking off their shoes. I'm naturally chatty, but when flying, I'd rather try and a)read or b) sleep through the whole damn flight because I'm not only nervous but I get awful ear pressure that has brought me to tears.

    I've never had someone hold my hand though. PERSONAL SPACE! It does still exist on planes. It's that 1/2 inch you get; that invisible little bubble surrounding you. Don't burst my bubble.

    As someone who used to tip the scales at over 200 lbs, I can also attest to the fact that I was equally nervous about fitting in the seats and not having "hang-over". How embarrassing. That would be my thighs invading someone else's 1/2 inch bubble, and I'd do everything in my power to not let that happen, even if I had to sit like a pretzel for 6 hrs.

  3. Michele, I am alarmed to tell you that you and Seth have something in common. Be very afraid.

  4. Alicia,I, too worry about "hangover" and get extreme ear pressure that sometimes prevetns me from hearing properly for hours.

    I circumvent that,usually successfully, by pressing really hard on my eardrums during the whole descent phase. It's uncomfortable but seems to help the situation.

    Have I mentioned that I hate to fly?

  5. I used to be very shy around men and a people-pleaser. If that twerp had done the same to me on my flight home from Kenya, however, I'd show my Italian and make him sleep with the fishes!!

    I love flying, though. Take off and landing are particularly exhilarating for me. Though I have to like it. I've only ever flown internationally!!

  6. Katie,I couldn't have done it at 21...but I'm making up for lost time now by threatening everyone in sight these days.

    I really wish I loved flying!