Having two jobs, many hobbies, and a lovely boyfriend, it is rare that I have a Sunday completely open to spend anyway I choose. This Sunday, however, by some shear stroke of luck happened to be a free day, so I chose to have a few of my close friends over for a delightful little brunch-a-riffic brunch.
I arose early this morning and because the weather was nice, I had the back door open. While cooking up my potatoes with fakin’ bakin and brewing coffee, this faint chemical smell–probably auto exhaust from the side street below–drifted in. It was an odd association and it is truly amazing how stumbling upon random smells can take you instantly to another place in the blink of an eye, but this combination of scents was identical to that smell that you get when first you board an airplane.
Its that unforgettable MR&MRS T Coffee experience–somewhere, somehow, and with a pot fastened securely enough, there is coffee already being magically brewed for you. This is then of course mixed with that jet fuel/pollution smell and juxtaposed to the essence of whatever the first class passengers are already eating–seriously I swear they get cocktails and a full course meal before they begin boarding all passengers. Their little game continues to work, as the rest of us will never be able to find out.
Regardless of my disapproval of the airline social hierarchy system, we have to continue to use it and just make the best of it. Throughout all of my years of traveling, I have continually sought out and made note of the things I have found most awkward, awe inspiring, or delightful. These are my top 5:
1. Sitting next to an emergency exit and being personally interviewed by an intensely focused flight attendant who said, “Ma’am, do you have any health problems that I cannot see? For example, if you had heart disease, I couldn’t see that. Do you have any I need to be aware of that would restrict your duties and are you willing to help to help passengers out the exit in the event of an emergency?”
2. Mott’s Tomato Juice–this doesn’t exist in real life anywhere. Purely an airline phenomenon.
3. The fact that they serve you piping hot coffee on desperately bumpy flights but I cannot take my nail clippers in my carry on.
4. In Flight, waking up after a nap from which I had fallen asleep mid movie on my laptop, to find that me and my flight mates were all enjoying a violent and gory scene from Dario Argento’s Suspiria where a dog (possessed by evil powers-not his own accord) is voraciously devouring his guardian–a blind pianist.
5. The mid life crisis man–Playboy in hand–talking to his wife on his cell, talking about the boring weekend he was about to have skiing in Vail with his “buddies” all the while unfolding the centerfold and turning it from horizontal to vertical repeatedly, muttering the un-emotional, “I will…I will…I love you too.”
For these brief moments you are intimate with strangers. You get to catch glimpses of phobias, grief, and joy. Each flight is a mash-up of those traveling to see loved ones, leave loved ones, say goodbye to departed ones, and welcome new ones. Some are coming back, others are gone forever.
Hearing bits of conversations, seeing unusual currencies peek out of wallets, and hearing the accidental leak of sound from slipped headphone jacks you can learn so much about people you will never see again. You could fall in love at first sight, have a scandalous affair, or just entertain yourself and gain mad people watching skills when the air gets rough.
Flying is sort of like camping. The normal things in flight are not always like what is considered in your normal grounded world. The complementary food sucks, but you like it because that is all there is.
Its also sort of like how jelly is way funnier than peanut butter.
And when the going gets rough, I know I can always flip through my Sky Mall catalog and find the hot dog cooker/bun warmer combo, and that makes me feel safe.