Monday, November 19, 2007

I sometimes get jealous of all the people going home for the holidays. They get outta Dodge, look forward to a change of scenery, not to mention the excitement of traveling great distances. But after visiting my fiancée’s mom in Florida, I don’t envy ‘em one bit. In fact, I have nothing but sympathy for anyone flying far for a family feast.

It’s not the inevitable interpersonal agita that’s so agonizing. It’s air travel.

And to be specific, what bothers me isn’t standing forever at baggage maim, the crappy airline food or tiny bag of peanuts, or lack of thereof, or being singled out for a security check by some moron with a beeping wand -- although I do have to wonder what causes me to set off the metal detectors every time. Is it my iron-rich blood due to trying to be like Popeye? (I’m strip-searched to the finish, ‘cause I eats me spinach). Or a result of that childhood song?: My name is Michael/ I’ve got a nickel/ I’ve got a nickel shiny and new/ I’m gonna eat it/ and it’ll stay in my system/ security will never let me through.

What I hate about air travel is the sardine seats. I worked my butt off, literally, to make sure it wasn’t me and the age-expansion of my ass that was the problem. No, the airlines have shrunken their chairs, jam-packed everyone in, jettisoning comfort for profit. I’m not sure how those seat cushions can serve as a flotation device -- wouldn’t a granite slab sink to the bottom of the sea?

I dream of G-4s, long for a Lear, or even enough frequent flyer miles for first class, but I’m confined to my coach compartment coccyx bone-crushing reality.

This is why I’ve kept most of my travel the past few years to the west. I can only take an hour or two of this crap. Still, even a short hop to San Francisco or Vegas can trick you with delays, trapping you on the LAX tarmac for additional tush-torturing time.

So that five-hour flight to Florida was awful. I thought perhaps this particular pain was just personal, but limping through the Ft. Lauderdale airport, I heard my fellow passengers griping: “Dude, my ass is killing me.”

You can imagine my hesitation to travel out to Europe again. I’ve flown to Paris direct from LA a couple of times. In the end, the wonderful memories of the City of Lights were nearly drowned out by 14 damn hours of derriere damage on the return home. Making matters worse are the plane's video maps displaying how far you’ve gone so far -- You mean we haven’t even crossed the Atlantic?! Let me out now! I’ll parachute into Iceland!

Did you ever read Stephen King’s story, “The Jaunt”? In the near future, teletransportation has allowed people to be “beamed” from one place to another, instantaneously… if they’re unconscious. If they’re awake, the trip takes seemingly forever, so that by the time they come out the other side, they’ve gone completely insane. Like the poor child victim who’s aged prematurely in that story, I find myself wide awake, wild-eyed in my window seat saying, “Long jaunt! Long jaunt!”

And there’s only so much one can do to occupy one’s mind during such a lengthy voyage. Sure, I could order several tiny bottles of booze at five bucks a pop, get drunk and fall asleep, but who wants to wake up with a hangover 35,000 feet in the air?

To paraphrase Lewis Black talking about his 24-hour flight to Australia: Twenty-four hours. So you can watch two movies, get a full night’s sleep… and you still have another twelve fucking hours to go!

I’m not flying anywhere this season. With all the holiday travelers out of town, it should take me no more than 20 minutes to drive to my sister’s place for Thanksgiving. Wherever you’re going, good luck getting there. To you and your ass.


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