Dear United Airlines Flight No. Whatever
Don’t tell me not to sass you. You’re just a cranky little flight attendant with all that attitude and a half over there. Listen, when you’re a nicotine-addicted college student, there comes a point in most airplane rides when you begin to seriously consider the repercussions of breaking the federal laws surrounding on-flight smoking. You start to think about what exactly would happen if you were to accidentally destroy the bathroom smoke detector with a faux Mont Blanc and inhale a couple of puffs like it were the last Camel on Earth. I’ve always imagined some kind of melodramatic scene where the authorities find out and drag me out of the plane in handcuffs. I’m in tears, channeling the spirit of Elian Gonzales, begging Janet Reno to put on a pant suit and help a brother out. And in the end, I’m in a jail cell, crooning to the tune of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” except the lines are “Don’t Cry For Me, Phillip Morris,” and I have no backup singers. That’s how I’ve always imagined how it would unfold. Believe me, I had an entire flight to mull over the vast pool of possibilities.
For me, that moment occurred after my layover in LAX, somewhere above the Pacific Ocean. I was on my way to Kahului, had smoked my last cigarette in Newark, and was less than delighted to be seated next to a zaftig, Mormon missionary whose boundless thigh fat was rolling over my arm rest and encroaching on my five extra inches of leg room. I have never met a person more excited about her window seat. I didn’t have the heart to remind her that the view doesn’t change when you’re flying from LA to Maui. It’s all water, all the time.
I was so anxious to land, I looked from window to carpet, unable to focus on the in-flight romantic comedy selection. Instead, for the second half of the flight, I listened to her breathe through her nose while she slowly snacked on an entire cylinder of Original Pringles and a party-sized bag of Hot ‘N’ Spicy Chex Mix, taking time with each chew to soak in the oral ecstasy of what I imagine was an alarmingly high intake of sodium.
From my seat, I was able to see the fortunate First Class riders, who were not only allowed to board first on the “United Airlines Priority Red Carpet”—which was really just a pathetic red rug that’s used to wipe the rain off your shoes—but they also received free glasses of white wine. Dear United Airlines, why couldn’t you help a little lassie out and give me an entire bottle to drown out the Brigham-Young-tote-bag carrying, fat mess that lay beside me?
Okay, I’m willing to admit that maybe an entire bottle is dramatic. But a glass would have been appreciated. Like you have no idea.
So what if I seriously considered whipping out my cigarettes and smoking right there in my seat despite the flashing sign that depicts a cartoon cigarette with a red X through it? (Why do you even have those signs in the first place? Isn’t it just illegal anyway, on all flights? Such a tease.) I mean, so what? A glass of wine with me is fine. I’m not like those drunk people you see stumbling in the street, cursing their heels, telling their girlfriends just how much they really fucking love them, no like, you don’t understand. Really fucking love them.
I’ll even be upfront about the fact that I can’t drink tequila because there is some magical element in it that makes me take my clothes off. So a glass of white wine really would have been the wisest drink of choice on the flight.
Okay, you got me. Actually the last time I had white wine, I downed a bottle of Chardonnay with a friend of mine and somehow found myself in the corner of a dingy bar, trying to out-kareoke some random girl’s interpretation of “I’m A Genie in a Bottle”. You have to understand, she just wasn’t channeling the right energy. I was doing my daily good deed and helping her out, like in those Disney sing-a-long videos. At least that was my drunken thought process at the time.
Because I’m a classy drunk. I’m not like those awkward engineering students who manage to ace their chemistry exams while still being thoroughly convinced that running a bottle of Stolichnaya through a Brita six times over will magically turn it into Grey Goose. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work and I am wise enough to know that. Because I party responsibly. But this is the vodka lover’s version of the Philosopher’s Stone, if you will. There is no telling them otherwise.
And there is no telling me otherwise, also, because I am still convinced that a glass of wine on that flight would have been relaxing and blissful. I’m not entirely sure if Mormons are allowed to partake in the whole alcohol thing—my dabble with The Latter Day Saints was brief, at best—but I would like to think that if we were offered wine, she would have abstained. I would have just sat there, tipping the plastic flute back, asking for a free refill two times over. Maybe I could have gotten drunk enough to muster up the strength to pull her hair out of the window hole and scream, Would you chew that peppered pumpernickel bagel chip more quietly, lady! People are trying to daydream about cigarettes and Evita over hear. Jesus Christ.
Cranky & Withdrawing
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