This morning I found myself on a plane traveling home from a weekend getaway. The day began when my shuttle arrived at 3:55AM, depriving me of an adequate night’s rest – I am the victim here… remember that as we continue.
Arriving at the airport, I walked to the gate after, of course, TSA rid the world of my threatening tube of Colgate. Talk about a close call. I was surprised, however, when the officer deposited my toothpaste in a trashcan at the end of the conveyor belt. I would have expected a HazMat bag, rubber gloves, radiation suits, bottomless pits… something more than a simple trash can in between he and I. Pausing for a moment, I considered reaching in and retrieving my long lasting guardian of enamel, but grew cold feet when I considered the consequences. He did offer me the chance to phone a family member to come pick up my toothpaste. I thought that was nice… and absurd.
At the gate, the news was reporting a website called cute things falling asleep — as if to mock the fact that I was neither cute nor asleep at this point. I must admit that the various things falling asleep were rather cute. Puppies, babies, bunnies, a hairless cat (which was just falling asleep… scratch the cute part. Terrifying alien freaks of nature falling asleep has yet to launch).
After boarding the plane for my 5 hour flight, I thumbed through a magazine pecking like a chicken as I struggled to stay conscious. Waiting with toothpasteless breath to recline, I quickly punched the button and shot backwards as soon as the captain granted permission. It is funny how the inch and a half recline provides next to no improvement to comfort.
Sleep had finally come… and what a sweet slumber it was. Three minutes later, flight attendant Debbie had the gall to wake me for my drink request. I put my sleepy eyes on and mumbled, “apple juice… please.” The please was especially hard to muster.
Back to sleep I’m not sure how many Z’s I grabbed before having one of those “ahhhhhh I’m falling dreams”. You know the dream… we’ve all had it. Unfortunately, you never just hit the ground and die, no, the moment before you hit the ground, EVER SINGLE muscle in your body flexes in unison and you violently jolt back to reality… sweating and out of breath. This usually happens in the privacy of your bedroom or on your couch during an afternoon nap or (the worst) at school where classmates share a quick laugh and go back to calculus. Remember though, I am on an airplane, where travelers are already suspicious of everyone as they quietly glance at you with the face that says, “You’re probably weird… don’t talk to me”.
I had just confirmed their suspicion… and they were all looking at me.
When things like this happen, instinct guides me to act naturally or, better yet: run. Cruising at 36,000 feet in a metal cage, my options were severely limited – running was out. Plan B: deep breath, be cool, act naturally… drink apple juice. Blame it on the muscle spasm, or my sleepy eyes, but as I hastily reached for my stubby plastic cup I didn’t grab it as much as I punched it.
Now covered in apple juice, I accepted the fact that I was stupid. Without any better option, I sheepishly sunk into my seat, bit my index finger, and reached for the attendant call button. Debbie arrived to boost my self esteem with a condescending “oh my!” She returned momentarily with presents: a wet wipe, some napkins, and a pair of plastic gold wings to pin to my shirt. The other travelers returned to SkyMall having kept silent for the entire duration of their stare. 4 hours and 45 minutes to go…
…and I was kidding about the wings.