Posts tagged: America
Travel by air is a magical thing. I mean… the thought of a multi-ton jet loaded with fat people and screaming infants hurling through the stratosphere at 900 miles per hour is fairly amazing. However, human beings have the innate ability to take awesome things and make them boring as listening to Nana talk about her swim therapy lessons and how Margaret was talking about a new applesauce recipe with walnuts in it, but she couldn’t remember what it was. (Hint: try mixing walnuts with your applesauce, grandma.) So it comes as no shock when airplane flights suck all the fun out of subsonic travel and replace it with posters of people having fun instead of you.
As you may or may not be aware, I have been in Switzerland for 6 weeks doing cool critter things for the government and burying all the I.O.U.s that our government owes to foreign countries. Hopefully, they are deep enough that we will never have to pay them back. Yay debt-free America. You can thank me by not wearing Ed Hardy.
My six weeks in Switzerland ended, however, and I returned to the U.S.A. as a hero. To do this I had to wake up at four AM to put on pants and get to Geneva so I could saddle up on everyone’s favorite mode of public transportation. Of course after we boarded, our group was split up and dispersed around the plane so we couldn’t spend our last few moments with our friends. No. That would be too luxurious and we were on British Airways. We can’t have nice things. My seat happened to be right between BodyOdor McRaunchySmell and ChinaMan O’NonEnglishSpeaker so I was off to a good start. Just a short plane ride to London and the stench could stop. However, traffic control had a better idea and managed somehow to get our plane stuck on the runway for 45 minutes most likely so I could suffer for all the Swiss people I mocked over the last six weeks. Alas, sleep was my only escape.
My dreams were all about airplanes, airports, and sitting next to people I hated, so my brilliant escape plan from reality was mostly just the same thing, plus the added bonus of waking up with neck cramps and morning breath. On the plus, by the time we landed in London, my brain had permanently disabled my sense of smell out of self-preservation so I could spend the five-hour layover staring at ugly English people and imagining that they smelled pleasantly of old leather-bound books, lilac, and fresh cut grass in the morning (probably an idealized construction of my mind judging by the amount of back sweat the English seem to have).
So for five hours, I spent a good deal of time wandering around with Mitch Murray, looking at alcohol bottles (for their graphic design qualities I assure you) and watching The Darjeeling Limited. It was great except for the old woman sitting across from us with the front of her shirt missing. Thankfully, her pushup bra did wonders at keeping her essentials covered and scarring my retinas. But hey! What is therapy for right? I mean, wouldn’t you want to look like an old, tired and very used prostitute if you were going to be in an airport with thousands of people? Yes. Yes of course you would. That must have been how she was so comfortable sleeping with
children humans any type of living organism around.
Leaving England is always the happiest moment of my life. That’s a big statement too because I had an eight hour flight to look forward to. Oh the joy! On the plus side, I got to sit by my friends who only ever encourage me to make good choices and are positive role models in my life. These wonderful friends know (as all my close friends do) that I will do any dare when I’m bored.
I’d like to take this opportunity to interject with a list of my good decisions made in Switzerland.
However, today on this plane I was challenged to complete a series of grueling dares. Failure I knew would result in being kicked out of the back of the plane with no parachute at 36,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, but I’ve been through worse on a few dates I’ve been on so I figured that there was nothing to fear. My mission? To convince the flight crew that it was Mitch Murray’s birthday, that his name was pronounced MEE-shel, and that the entire plane should sing to him. I formulated a five phase plan and began executing it with ruthless efficiency and assassin-like precision.
Phase One: Win over the flight crew with charm and wit. I executed this by paying attention to everything that was said by the staff with a fervent intensity. This actually was not hard because every time the crew wanted to say something the loudspeakers would pause my viewing of the on-flight movie (Fast Five) anytime they wanted to remind me of anything. Usually this was done about 10 times more than necessary because the pilot was obviously stoned out of his mind as he went on and on about how fast the plane was and how shiny everything on the dashboard was and how hungry he was and more elaboration about how freaking fast this plane could go. I mean seriously 850 ground miles per hour! PER HOUR PEOPLE!!! Better fill everyone in every five minutes about our new altitude! Soon though my attention paid off as the dinner choices were presented to us: Beef Strogagross and Three Cheese Pastnasty. Joel happened to be asleep through this discourse. He had not become engrossed in the dialogue of Fast Five quite like I had and his slumber was deep. This could not have worked any better as the flight attendant soon came by and asked what we would like. Joel wanted to know what his options were as I’m sure everyone else on the plane did too as every fat little American wants food but hates listening. I quickly saved our flight attendant from having to recount the food choices by recounting them myself. She was so impressed that someone with an IQ over 70 managed to stumble onto an airplane that she instantly became wooed over to my malicious control.
Phase two: Get the flight crew comfortable with potentially dangerous ideas. As the flight attendant lavished praise on my inhuman ability to remember two entire meal choices while also watching fine American cinema. As she went on and on about how great I was, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce her to the cold hard facts of life. Namely, Shifty Pete gets what he wants. “I actually have a friend whose birthday is today,” I said. “Ooooh. That is wonderful! Whose is it?” she replied. The correct answer of course was, “No one, you dunce. That was a test to see if you’d eat that up. You passed.” Instead I said, “MEE-shel’s birthday is today! Do you think it would be possible to announce that over the PA? It would mean a lot to us.” The look of fear in the flight attendant’s eyes betrayed her desire to suddenly run away. Perhaps she had a previous bad experience with announcing a birthday on a plane and caused a riot in the cabin resulting in the ensuing plane crash killing everyone onboard except herself and an old asian woman who was in the lavatory smoking. At any rate, I played it off as something that would be truly appreciated. She looked down the row at Emily and asked if that was “Michelle.” I suddenly realized that trying to convince her otherwise would be a bit of a challenge and it wouldn’t be too much of a shame to throw a solid my faux-ex-girlfriend’s way (it was all a joke people! Remember all the fun that was?) So I agreed to her false presuppositions knowing that Emily was more likely to cooperate.
Phase three: Use the flight crew as my loyal puppet minions. Soon, a higher ranking flight attendant came to my seat and began questioning me. However, she too was not prepared for my staggering >70 IQ and was soon powerless to listen to reason and logic. She entered Michelle’s name into a computer and asked what kind of topping she would like on her ice cream sundae. (Take note, gentlemen. This is how you treat your baby gurlzz right.) Hot fudge would suffice, thank you. With an affirmative nod to Joel and back to the Supreme Commander of the League of Flight Attendants she left in haste to perform my bidding.
Phase four: Use my army of flight attendants to control the pathetic and feeble-minded passengers through fear. I smiled as everyone’s movie was paused and the speakers at full blast began spreading my propaganda in a charming and pleasant lady-voice. “Hello, passengers! Today we have a passenger’s very special birthday today! It is Michelle’s birthday today and we aren’t going to tell you how old she is but we are going to sing happy birthday to her today!” My manic laughter was drowned out by the sound of a thousand fat Americans being shanghaied into singing happy birthday to a person whose name wasn’t Michelle and whose birthday wasn’t that day. High fives all around.
Phase five: Profit. Everyone’s favorite phase is always the same. This is what we live for in America, free crap. First came the ice cream sundae. Free. A generous bowl of soft serve vanilla smothered in hot fudge and if memory serves (as I have been so lauded by flight attendants for) a single cherry on top. All my hard work did earn me a taste so it was completely worth it. We celebrated with high fives all across row 24, but the fun didn’t stop there. Nothing says happy birthday like free booze. For my heroism, the first flight attendant came with a cart of drinks and asked what the birthday girl would like. I selected their finest white wine and received a small bottle. Double free. Then everyone else in the row minus Mitch was offered free drinks. Triple free 3x combo. I declined mine because I am only 20 and our professor and his 14-year-old son were right behind us, but the flight attendant wasn’t having it. It was time to improvise. “I’m an alcoholic. I can’t drink at altitude and once I start I can’t stop.” I offered. Of course she ate that up with sympathy. Dang it woman. I’m 20. How does one become an alcoholic at that age? But everyone did enjoy their beer and wine and ice cream and birthday songs and fame. So I was content.
I’m surprised that they serve alcohol on planes actually. I mean, where is the last place you would want to encounter a drunk person? If you said “strapped into a small enclosed space with dozens of other people for several hours,” then you are correct! Seriously, that is a bad idea.
I think maybe other cool stuff happened on the flight too, but I don’t really remember.
American food! Why have you forsaken me!? Am I to die in this European desert without your barbecue to comfort me? Am I to wander the streets in the hopes that the scent of grease fryers will bring joy back to my life? Is it the weeks I spent as a vegan that now the largest glass of beverage is no bigger than a petri dish?
Let me die a broken and hollow man. A land of magnificent bread, chocolate, fresh-market vegetables and cheese with nothing else is no land I can live. I would throw it all to the fires and dogs but for a taste of ribeye. I would cast the conglomeration of mundane swiss sandwiches into the pits of hell for pulled pork and corn bread with honey. These sick monstrosities of Swiss food will haunt me forever.
I long for shores where glasses have more than a sip of water served at room temperature. Where it is encouraged to eat until you are sick and must watch football until pie is served. Where donuts are not only approved by the FDA but also a common breakfast food for schoolchildren.
These europeans have talked of their wondrous food but have delivered empty promises. What is fondue in the face of beer brats? What is Nutella in the face of apple pie? Has the mass consumption of nicotine suppressed the appetites of these Swiss crowds so much that they are sated by a meal consisting of some thin broth with bits of bread floating feebly beneath the surface?
Oh American food! Take me back with your warm embrace. Let me never stray from you again. Forget the nasty things I have said about the mass consumption of meat, or the slander against the process used to make chicken nuggets–disgusting though it may be. Let me sit down at any restaurant and order piles of onion rings to dip in ranch dressing until I feel so fat and guilty that I have to eat my full rack of baby back ribs and my loaded bake potato just to erase the memory. Oh American food! My love for you is unceasing. Wait for my eager return on the third day. Look towards the East.