I can’t sit straight in this stupidly rigid chair. Do the other passengers agree with me that because of it I look like Gollum? I am the crypt keeper. I am a hunched little devil man.
I’m on a gorgeous flight back to Vancouver – just about over those gorgeous Rockies obscured by those just gorgeous screaming children – and I have nothing to watch. The man to my left began Jason Bourne about ten minutes ago so that’s great.
Like you didn’t see my finger on the proverbial trigger. Now what’s the point in starting it? I’ll be somehow re-watching it but for the first time.
I’m immediately sucked into what’s on screen.
Does Matt Damon age?
I crane my neck around the man’s tumour-esque shoulder.
If Matt brought back the blond highlights he’d look pretty much the same as “Good Will”.
My luggage is not safely shoved beneath the seat in front of me and they know. They definitely know.
My too-big-for-me shoes rest unevenly on top of my backpack – popcorn shaped, perfect for nothing – and every time an attendant passes me, he or she trips on one of its straps. I worry my airline-sold “earpods” – the ones that resemble uncooked chickpeas – emit a greater range of sound than one might think.
Can they hear the tinny version of Radiohead that emits? It’s not “Creep,” I promise. I have Coke Machine Glow by Gord Downie if you want a patriot?
I attempt some in-flight art that I call Receipt Origami. Babies love this. The garbage collectors travel up the narrow-like-a-paper cut aisle. I stuff my garbage art into the seat pocket, just behind the dog-eared magazines. I sit back and try to look casual. I pick up “En Route” and flip through it.
I would never read this.
I mark a page.
The woman next to me seems pretty all right until I brush her elbow too hard with my own soft putty elbow.
That’s too pointed an angle for a human bone.
She doesn’t register my anger. She’s too busy playing “spot the unusual item in the room” on the touch screen. She celebrates leveling up by eating an almond that rests on her bare tray table.
I acknowledge this, and move on.
A flight attendant comes to collect my origami. I hand it to her and mumble what I think is “thank you” but what must actually sound like “mmphyu!” I don’t know. I don’t and never do take out my earchips quickly enough.
What if the attendant can’t translate my in-flight half-English? “Air English”.
I see her smile and nod at someone as they say “achoo” at her. I am safe.
My second chance. Here it is.
The flight attendant comes back up the aisle. I rip the chickpeas from my ears and yelp. She thinks I said “yes”. I nod. She hands me apple juice. I down the A.J.
Why a new, second flight attendant? Why though? I’m sitting in the same – Doesn’t matter. Make friends with this one.
The second flight attendant hands me my second coffee as he jokes with a classy customer across the aisle. “I committed a crime and the judge gave me the choice of flight attendant or jail.” He pauses. “Jail would’ve been easier.” He grins a big five-tooth grin.
Har, har, har. Or “yar” might be more appropriate. I melt into my seat. My smugness warms me all over like liquor.
He turns his attention to me.
“Hey, sorry,” I say, “I actually wanted this with milk.”
“Oh, sure.” He turns back to the cart. He mumbles, “sugar.”
“Okay.” I shrink.
So I choke down a response as he gives me the cream. I pour it into my nut-brown coffee and it begins to take on a kind of lard texture – and then I notice the Jason Bourne man get up from his chair.
He doesn’t pause the movie.
You’re the real criminal.
A minute later, the man returns. I want to fill him in but I don’t. I so don’t. I think about taking out a pen and writing on my origami “You’re The Worst” and giving it to him as a gift, but I forgot the garbage collector collected it half an hour earlier. He doesn’t deserve it anyway, not when he denigrates his in-flight entertainment.
Some kids block the window view of my alma mater better than its shroud of forest does. The kids jump and scream. The situation reminds me of that classic saying: If a child falls on an airplane, do I care?
We land and the kids cry because they don’t understand why their ears pop. I smile, and chew some just gorgeous gum to fix the problem.