Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mr. Brightside

When the second leg of my business trip flight was cancelled in Atlanta due to a “mechanical error”, I was none too pleased. I had a full day of flying ahead of me and wasn’t real keen on being put up in an oddly sweet smelling Comfort Inn for the evening. But such was my fate. Throwing a couple of meal vouchers at me for my trouble was like offering mints after feeding me a slice of moose turd pie.

Nevertheless, I was helpless. When an airline shakes its head at you and says “No”, you best offer your deepest sigh and listen. I accepted it. And, about 18 hours later, I was back in the air. Hadn’t slept like a-million dollars and found out about the exhibit displaying real live plastinated bodies 30 minutes too late – even missed the BBQ they had talked up in Pennsylvania – so I was prepared to be angry the rest of the way there. I was determined for those around me to feel as much of my passive-aggressive wrath as possible.

The cheery Delta rep from the night before teased me with a First Class possibility, only to quash it by telling me I’d be in the middle of a row. She advised I try and change my dire situation at the gate. I never dide. What she didn’t have the foresight to mention was that I’d be stuck in between a couple of fatties.

They came at me at the same time, one from the back of the plane and one from the front. He had a thick Southern accent, an affinity for the number crossword games and, well, a fairly chunky middle section. She was a vision in purple: an African American woman wearing a three-man tent (with straps!) as a fashion statement. I also learned in short order her cell phone could wake the deaf. She was large enough to offer an “I’m sorry” to me with each shift in her seat. She’d shift and I’d get bumped. I stopped with the “That’s alright” responses fairly quickly.

I’m not accustomed to looking on the bright side. Once in a while, I’ll take a stab at it just to see what happens, but I’m more the pensive thinker/realist than I am anything else. I’m no fan of being the eternal optimist. I don't even like them. Those types tend to grate on my nerves. If anything, I make a beeline for that blessed middle ground. Each situation offers me a mood that I end up grappling with, for better or for worse.

This is when I decided to get creative and flip things around. I decided, right then and there, that it was time for the personality to shift some. Today would be one of the “for better” days. I like to fake myself out like that, so I don't end up doing the same thing all of the time. It falls into my somewhat recent attack on myself and facing my fears. Just like that, then, I was no longer squished between two people larger than myself, wondering in a panic if I was suddenly suffering from claustrophobia. Instead, I was incredibly cozy.

I’m not prone to sleeping on a plane. I can never get quite comfortable enough. In fact, I froze on the leg of my trip taking me from Salt Lake to Atlanta. Mittens and a scarf would have done me wonders. Instead, I dealt with a cold nose.

From Atlanta to Detroit, however, I was a highly comfortable man. When you’re sleeping between a couple of heated body pillows, it’s that much easier to get some shut-eye. My warm nose determined that the curious scent of the woman next to me wasn't just strange, but rather intoxicating. It, along with the unexpected warmth, helped lull me to sleep. She slept as well, forgoing the apologizes. (Meanwhile, the guy on my left – we'll call him Muttering Bob – kept dutifully crunching numbers.)

My female neighbor's leg fell onto mine and stayed there. I didn't know this until I work up for a small spell. I also discovered that I'd inadvertently ended up using part of her body as an armrest. That was a little horrifying at first but I decided, hey, if she was offering, I may as well take her up on it. See? Attitude really does count when you need it to.

Fact, when she started to do that choking snore sound – a curious thing I might normally rush to compare to, say, a sow with a half-eaten corncob stuck in her throat – I listened more and compared less. As soon as it stopped, I was able to go back to sleep. It would not get me down.

I’m impressed that she was able to sleep right up until we landed pretty hard on the runway. Naptime had a bit of a rude awakening, one that ended with her announcing to those around us that the bumpy landing kinda scared her. That’s what I gathered from the “Oh, shit!” anyway. I mean, it was either that or she'd crapped her pants. Er, tent. Okay, dress. Big purple dress. And, for the record, I don't think she crapped.

The former me would have laughed out loud. The present me just smiled, then removing my arm from the very soft, very purple armrest.

Always look on the bright side. It'll do wonders.


Cindy said...

You're funny. I like how you just out and said fatties. There's not enough of that these days. I've never had to deal with the perils of sitting next to large people on a plane because I'm a relatively small person. I flew to Texas once with my friend Carl, who is about your height and saw how uncomfortable it was for him. I sympathize. He is phobic of touching people though so he wouldn't have been caught dead using the lady's arm as a pillow.

Dainon said...

You thought it was her arm?

ewesa said...

that's hilarious, I hated the term "fatties", we are polar opposites. you two and me. the last two flights I was on I had no one sitting next to me, it was HEAVEN. though comfortably wedged doesn't sound all that bad..

Cindy said...

Gross! Ha ha! Sarah, we used to say people were "fatty-boom-ba-latties" when we were in high school. Of course I would never utter such a phrase now-a-days.

Dainon said...

I think the term "fatties" is used much easier when you're a) going to be sitting next to someone who uses up more than his/her alotted seat space and b) if you're already good 'n angry already. Once I went into flip mode, however, I no longer saw them that way. Just, you know, comfortable. Not to break down my piece too turribly much, but there you go.

ewesa said...

I understand better now.

plainoldsarah said...

i'm very impressed with the flip dainon. good job. made me bust out smiling. the flip can be a super tough thing to accomplish - way to go!

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