When I was a kid, I once flew by myself to Quebec to visit my grandma and all of my Canadian family. I’d probably only ridden a plane once before that, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because from the moment my parents dropped me off at the gate to the time the plane landed, I seemed to be the center of attention of all the flight attendants. Combine this with the fact that I was wearing a stellar outfit (carefully selected specifically for the flight and consisting of a baggy, lime green t-shirt with matching, tight lime green biker shorts, fold-over socks, a scrunchy and my LA Gear sneakers) and I felt like the coolest kid that had ever flown the North American skies.
This afternoon, I was nervous about flying to Arizona. The anxiety came from the fact that my nose hadn’t stopped running for the past 4 days and was accompanied by an annoyingly persistent cough. Now, let’s face it, no one wants to sit next to someone with all the symptoms listed on the side of the Nyquil Extra Strength bottle. They think: That leper could be carrying the bubonic plague for all we know. I know that is what people are thinking because that is what I think anytime the person next to me on a plane so much as sneezes. When I sit next to someone who demonstrates any of the symptoms I was exhibiting, I turn my head away from the person as far as I can, breathing in only from the small pocket of air in the window, somehow believing this air is cleaner, less contaminated.
As I was stressing out about who I would sit next to and whether or not he would be a big germaphobe (just who do these people think they are?), I lucked out and found a seat near the front next to a kid no older than 10. My gosh, if I thought I was cool flying alone at 10, this kid would be frozen. He had remarkably cool hair, worn bleached with his roots showing, and a pierced ear (a small peace sign stud to be exact). He informed me that he was flying back home by himself to Arizona, which he considered to be much better than California because it’s warmer. (I did not detect any signs of him joking so I assumed he must have been completely serious). Kids must be the least germaphobic people alive so I thanked my lucky stars the aisle seat next to the cool kid was open.
I slid into my seat and found myself, for the first time in a long time, actually paying attention to the flight attendant’s presentation about what to do with our masks should the cabin suddenly lose pressure. Because what if we did crash? I would surely need to know about the masks. We might even crash on a remote tropical island with mystical, magical properties. They might start a show about it – all of us plane wreck survivors trying to live together, all the while trying to avoid conflict with the original island inhabitants. We could call them “Those” people. I would want to be on that show because who wouldn’t. So I paid attention to the mask lesson.
If we did crash, I would need to make my alliances right away. Everyone knows that is how anyone survives after being plane wrecked on an island with strangers (at least that’s what happens on TV). I would start by befriending the cool kid. On the first hour of the flight alone, he had proved useful. He had a large backpack which would come in handy for gathering mangoes and coconuts. I knew it was a big, roomy bag because he kept pulling all sorts of stuff out of it and piling it up on the seat in between us. A mini gaming system, a collection of CD’s, a DVD player, a beach towel with a skull and bones print and a package wrapped in cardboard and sealed with massive amounts of duct tape.
Throughout the flight, the cool kid’s magician’s bag did not stop producing. He played a Madonna song on one of his many electronics and offered me one of a handful of Jolly Ranchers. After a few moments of sitting quietly, he reached into the bottom of his bag, pulled something out and then reclined back in his seat. I turned to see the latest trick he had performed and saw that he had put on a pair of over-sized 3D glasses. “For the movie,” he said ominously. If you’ve ever flown Southwest, you would know there are no 3-D movies screened in flight, so I had to assume he knew something I didn’t know…
…Maybe we really were going to crash…
I almost started saying a little prayer in preparation for the crash when the flight attendant came by to take our drink orders.
“Would you like anything to drink?” she asked me.
“Orange juice, please,” I said.
“Sure thing,” she smiled at me.
Turning to the cool kid, she asked, “And what would you like, sir?”
“Bloody Mary,” he said. Just like that. Bloody. Mary.
The flight attendant, who was just a touch hard of hearing, put her fingers to her ears to indicate she couldn’t hear him and then leaned across me, closer to him.
“What was that?” she asked.
“Bloody Mary juice,” he responded.
“Oh! The spicy stuff!” she cackled and jotted it down on her notepad.
I looked at the cool kid and then at the flight attendant, as if to say, The cool kid with the 3D glasses on just ordered a Bloody Mary, but she must not have noticed since she gave me another smile before continuing on down the aisle.
I turned in my seat to see where the cameras might be; the island show must have started filming already.