I’ve had enough of flying. I promised myself last year when I got off that final long flight from Singapore that I’d never step foot on an airplane again. Of course I didn’t believe my own promise. David was already talking about a trip to Alaska. What did I think—that we were going to drive there?
This morning I put my little dog, Trip, in the kennel. So while David is rushing around, excited and tense the way he gets when he’s got a flight to catch, I’m sad and unfocused. Trip is sweet and small and he thinks he’s in hell when I’m not there.
Our schedule relaxed when our flight was moved back an hour. We end up getting to the airport right at the hunger time when we’re both snippy. I scandalize David by saying I’d rather have a bloody Mary than food.
“It’s too early for a bloody Mary,” he tells me
“It’s never too early for a bloody Mary,” I say. “Besides, a bloody Mary before flying is what I do.” I get away with many indulgences by citing tradition.
“Food first,” he insists. And he does indeed need food. His fingers are trembling the way they do when he gets too hungry.
We share half a rotisserie chicken, which isn’t bad. As we’re finishing, a couple with a crying baby claims the empty table next to us. The two adults are offensively fat. They eat hamburgers and fries while their baby releases shrill screams, which upsets David, prompting him to complain about how they’re tending to their own needs before their kid’s.
“You knew when you chose this table,” I say, “that people over whom we have no control would likely sit next to us.”
“How could I know who was going to sit there?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
This brief holiday is for my benefit. When our son, Curtis, went to San Francisco a couple of months ago I mentioned that I’d never been there. Next thing I knew, David had made reservations. We’re staying at a B & B in the Mission District. We’ve got plans to take the ferry to Alcatraz. We’ll visit Chinatown, which I will compare to Singapore’s Chinatown, one of my favorite places in the world. Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square, and Golden Gate Park are also musts. There’s an antique area I want to explore.
Having delayed departure twice, the airline has now moved our flight forward forty-five minutes. We rush toward our gate.
In an effort to be considerate, the man in front of me in the check-in line turns away from his companion to cough, releasing a mouthful of moist germs into my face. I recoil. For the next several days I will be facing this type of horror—how many strangers have drilled their farts into this seat? How many snot-sticky hands have clutched this rail? How long has it been since the bed cover has been laundered? Did the last person to walk barefoot in this room have a toenail fungus? To travel is to risk disease. The trick is to not think about it.
It's been a long time since I've flown within the states. United Airways charges for television and movies. It charges for food and drinks. I don't understand this need for austerity, not when the flight is full and oil prices are so far down they're practically below. It seems stingy and mean-spirited, though I suppose these days people bring their entertainment with them. The Asian airlines feed their passengers continuously, as do the European ones, no extra charge. The attendant comes by. I pay eight dollars for the bloody Mary I didn't have time for at the terminal.