Every time I travel by air, it's a scene.
It's mostly that way because wherever I go, whether it's a trip around the world or to the local supermarket to pick up Frosted Flakes, I live in a fantasy world that revolves around the idea that I am Neo from The Matrix -- regardless of how much of a mom I look like in real life. I've got the black get-up, the hair and the sunglasses. In my head, I'm Keanu, 24/7. Plus, I'm completely insane.
So, here I am in the airport; I'm traveling alone as usual. It's 5:45 a.m. The gate is packed to the brim, so I end up having to do my flight preparation routine in front of an audience of snoring, phone-obsessed, snacking, Cinnabon-glutted, anxious people, all waiting to board what promises to be a real sardine experience. In an airport, pepperoni knows no time constraints. I open my 'special sandwich bag' and pull out some rubbery tan-colored non-food items.
Due to a medical condition that I have going on with my right arm, I have to wear a compression sleeve every time I fly, so after removing seven or eight layers of my all-black wardrobe, I not only have to slip on this bizarre beige gauntlet all the way up to my armpit, but then, to complete the picture, I must squeeze on the accompanying glove which is the size of a small doll hand. It takes me a few moments to do this, and the sight of me donning my pressure gear is enough to cause that click moment in each passenger; the one that says, "Wow, I definitely don't want to be sitting next to her. What the hell is wrong with her arm and is it going to explode when we hit 35,000 feet?"
I also talk to myself out loud and I have a limp from a recent knee surgery. Yes, I'm that person.
So, now I've got on that Falcon trainer look, like at any moment a giant screeching bird is going to mount my arm and make me lose grasp of my boarding pass. Perfect timing saves the day, however, and it's time to board. Seeing that I'm in zone two thousand zillion five, I realize I will be among the last to board, which means all of the overhead storage will be taken way before I get to my seat. Looks like Neo's going to have to sit with her long black duster folded up neatly on her lap during the whole flight.
Finally aboard, I make my way down the aisle where a couple of miles ahead, I spot my row - and hopefully the well-coveted middle seat. Maybe the engine has just combusted but suddenly the interior of the plane feels like it's gone up several thousand degrees. Luckily, I have my large black lace fan with me. I realize: not very Neo. Doesn't matter, I'm still Neo. So, there I go, my jet black hair standing straight up on my head, my Mr. Anderson shades giving no sign of what I'm really thinking about - as I talk to myself aloud while limping -- my one strange arm covered in some kind of latex-like gauze, my fingers so awkwardly sausaged into this medical glove-device, AND I'm flapping a huge fan to cool myself down because I don't want anyone to notice me sweat.
Yay! I get the middle seat! On my left is Hamburger Rock Star and on my right is The Ponytail Toss. Hamburger is a massive mess, looks like he's just spent seven years in a studio producing an album -- he's got the baseball cap, the straggly hair and that whole, "I haven't had my annual shower yet," vibe. Plus, he's got a case of hamburgers by his feet and he's presently and obscenely involved with something gray and meat-ish, wedged inside a ketchup-soaked bun.
The Ponytail Toss is the chick that has absolutely no idea that every time she flicks her long hair over and under and through a hair-tie, she hits her neighbor (hi!) in the face with it. As pretty as that hair may be, no one wants to be on the whipping end of it, repetitively throughout any flight.
Behind me are The Juice Box Adorables, which means they, as small children, have automatic rights to hit the passengers who sit in front of them, on the head, at whim, while giggling and getting away with it. There's just so much, "Hey honey," you can say to one of these brats before you become THE MEAN BASTARD, but I will tell you this; at one point I thought they were aliens. If you are familiar with that thin bit of material that separates one's seated ass from the foot of the person sitting behind you, you'd know that there's not a whole lot of difference between the restless prodding of a four year old foot and what we all imagine to be the legendary 'anal probe'.
I need to take notes because this is all too rich, so out comes my pad and a deep wish for a long feathery plumed pen -- just to give Ponytail Toss a taste of her own medicine.
Ah, the cabin is ready and the Captain is doing that 'seduce the microphone' thing that Captains like to do.
"Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It looks like we're going to have a very smooth ride into LaGuardia," he says while chuckling in creamy tones. After he lets us overhear the entire sex act that's going on in the cockpit, he comes back in with, "It's going to be a sunny day with a very good chance of Langoliers..."
This is where I notice that William Shatner is across the aisle, complaining about something on the wing.
Two hours into the air and I'm feeling that dreaded need to use the lavatory. About to undo my seatbelt, I'm cut off at the pass by Hamburger Rock Star, who has finally digested all 22 burgers. The door sign has now gone from vacant to occupied and so begins the visual. Thank you, overactive imagination. I decide to wait 'til I get to NY.
I look over my shoulder just in time to watch a woman kiss a photo of Lamar Kardashian in a People magazine. The loudspeaker chimes, a female voice: Ladies and gentlemen, apparently one of our in-flight passengers has gotten sick in the aisle. Please do not step on the red plastic bag as you deplane... just step over it. Thank you." So... what am I not getting here? Someone puked and they threw a plastic bag over it? Oh, that's not too slippery, right? Not to mention that nothing could cause more anxiety in me than knowing that I'm somewhere in the vicinity of a patch of puke. The plane could go down and all I would be thinking of is, "Don't let that puke touch me!"
After the universe has gone to the bathroom, then comes the snoring, which makes me think I'm in Hell, the real deal. Then I have this thought: There should be a snoring app. You turn your phone on, crank the volume, and let your snoring app just snore on an endless loop. Everybody does it, but all snores start at different points, just to break up the rhythm.
I look down at my notes and all I see is, "All work and no play makes Neo a dull girl," written several hundred times. We're cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet and I'm pretty sure my arm is going to pop. I just want to wake up, back home, on the Nebuchadnezzar...
OK, I have to get off this plane now.