I’m writing from the other side of the country. And Boyfriend Brett is with me.
And that’s significant.
Because this is what happens to Boyfriend Brett when he flies.
It’s an odd thing, this affliction that plagues poor Brett. When he and I first got together, he nonchalantly mentioned as a total aside one day, “So, I’m afraid of flying.”
It was about the same time he told me he was hooked on zombie films. I thought he was joking about both.
Or not. (Seriously: Who the hell watches zombie flicks?)
Anyhow, I thought he was “afraid of flying” the way I’m “afraid of stupid people.” Or “afraid of comma splices.” Or “afraid of hairless cats.”
I don’t give them a second thought — but I don’t necessarily enjoy them, either.
I had no idea he is “afraid of flying” the way I’m “afraid of bricks.”
And to be perfectly honest, if someone said to me, “Are you afraid of flying?”, I’d probably shrug and say something like, “Yeah. I don’t like to fly.”
After all, I have giraffe legs. They don’t fit in the standard 5.875-inch allotment that separates rows. I hate dry roasted peanuts. I hate tiny bathrooms that are called “lavs” in order to make them sound all boutique-y and quaint. I hate that people think reclining from a 12-degree angle to a 15-degree angle gives them a much better rest, because in reality, all it does is CROWD MY GIRAFFE LEGS AND MAKE ME WANT TO KNEE YOU IN THE ‘NADS.
But I guess, in reality, I’m not afraid of flying. Not like Brett is afraid. Not like hives afraid.
Brett once told me about the root of his fear, and many of us have heard similar stories: It was a flight from hell, one with wind shears and screaming men and sudden drops and pasty-faced people kissing the ground as they deplaned.
And apparently, the boy ain’t been right since.
Before that fateful flight, he was practically a flying machine. He was raised in the Midwest, lived in the Caribbean for a decade, flew stateside many times and lived in Upstate New York for years before making the cross-country trek to Nevada. He was a SCUBA instructor in the Caribbean, and he even taught night diving.
Surround him with jellyfish and stingrays in black, shark-infested waters, and he’s Studly Do-right the SCUBA God. Hand him a Sky Mall and give him an oxygen mask demonstration, and all of a sudden he’s Hive Boy.
Our first trip together was the only time I’ve ever seen him drunk. No real biggie, except for one slight problem: He decided to get drunk the night before our trip.
Not so smart. He awoke the next morning still slightly drunk and at the early stages (just past “The Spins” but before “The Smell of Air Makes Me Want to Puke”) of an epic hangover — yet he still had to face his worst fears. Only we had no idea what was to come.
Because the only seats remaining were in the back of the plane (as luck would have it, I “scored” Boarding Passes Z-49 and 50, if I recall). There we had a bird’s eye view of this, appropriately taking place just under our (broken) wing:
I tried not to let him see. I tried distracting him by deliberately going through every single goddamn thing in the seat pocket in front of us: Look! A spew bag — yeah, maybe not the best thing to show him, as we’re definitely past the pre-pukey part; Emergency Landing Procedures — crap, he really didn’t need to see the picture of the plane spiraling downward then performing a water landing; Sky Mall — SCORE!
I then feverishly flipped through the ubiquitous seat-pocket staple, loudly declaring that we absolutely NEED the “Swoop-and-Scoop” bowl on p. 31 (that shit’s seriously cool: a bowl that doesn’t allow your cereal to get soggy? I’m totally there…). But as I fumbled through the pages, passing over Siamese Slankets (it’s a Slanket … for two!) and Top Secret Sound-Activated Video Camera Pens and the lice-and-bedbug-killing Nano UV Disinfection wands, I watched as he looked past me and saw this scene unfolding.
Or should I say, devolving.
Hive Boy was almost in complete panic-attack mode. What you don’t see in these pictures — and I shit you not, cross my heart and hope to die in a fiery ball that used to be a plane filled with stupid people and hairless cats — was the guy on the ground who had just flipped the instructions over … and then turned them right side up again. Then flipped them over again.
And then came the final straw:
Yeah. Ladder boy is now on the phone. On the tarmac. Have you ever been on the tarmac of an airport? Cuz you can’t hear dick on the tarmac of an airport. And clueless instruction manual dude is still trying to read the instructions…
Not a good way to start our first cross-country flight together: Frick and Frack can’t figure out what’s wrong with our wing. And Drunky McDrunkerson is next to me, slurring his words, already breaking out in red welts, hiccuping and threatening to spew. In the pocket of the 15-degree-reclined seat in front of me (there’s a spew bag there, right?). Over my giraffe legs.
That, my friends, was our first cross-country flight together. And today I write after completing our second. Well, half of our second, because we haven’t quite made it home yet — that fun flight happens in just a few days.
But I knew this trip would be different. Because it started like this.
And then, instead of blatantly taking pix of Brett’s blotches, I surreptitiously snapped this shot of our third-seater reading the in-flight magazine:
It’s like that line in When Harry Met Sally, when Bruno Kirby’s character says to Carrie Fisher’s character: “I’ve never had someone quote me to me before.”
Or something like that.
Because I wrote that story in Southwest Spirit Magazine. Then that dude was reading it! Made me all tingly…
So here we are in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Where Baptist churches and strip clubs are on every alternating corner (so “sin” and subsequent “redemption” can happen without shamefully wasting gas, I guess) and nub-filled-foods like grits and hominy are commonplace.
I mean, where else in the world would you see this bat-shit craziness?
Mmmm. Finger-lickin’ good…
So before I go, I thought I’d ask:
- Has anyone had any experience with visiting and/or living in the
ConfederacySouth? Because this is an eye-opening experience for this northern girl…
- What exactly are grits, anyhow?
- Anyone else with irrational fears you’d care to share (or admit to a zombie-flick fetish)? Any tips for Hive Boy? Because we still have that flight home in a few days…
Thanks, y’all. Wish me luck!