by Craig Mitchell (or you)
Note from Craig: This was written years before the September 11th tragedy. I realize that, at least for now, any attempt at humor that contains references to terrorists or downing planes is going to run headlong right into the memory of what happened on 9-11. Nonetheless, I am not removing this from my site.
Whenever I fly, I always make sure to dress like a terrorist: black turtleneck, black pants, a long leather coat, and I carry an old gym bag with a suspicious looking bulge. You get nothing less than the first class treatment that way. It seems like the stewardesses are bringing you really strong drinks every five seconds or so. Hey, they’re not stupid. A drunk terrorist is easier to wrestle to the floor.
My friend Paul is half Saudi-Arabian. He doesn’t have to dress like a terrorist. He could wear puffy high-top tennis shoes and a pink bunny outfit and people in airports would still suspect he’s a walking truckload of explosives. He’s not travelling with me though. So at St. Louis Lambert Airport this morning, I am the master terrorist. I will strike fear into the hearts of passengers and airline employees alike.
While I wait at Gate 12 to board my plane I bide my time by staring at people.
What are you crying about little girl? Your parents are sitting next to you and they’re rich! In fact, if they weren’t so busy reading the ‘Rich Gazette’ they would pay me a wad of cash to dance around like a monkey and entertain you. The very fact that I’m not dancing for you right now shows their indifference to you. They must hate you. You’re fat and I’m betting you’re pretty stupid too. Now that I think about it, I guess you do have some good reasons to cry.
“We’re boarding all First Class passengers,” they announce over the intercom. The little girl continues to cry all the way down the boarding ramp. She doesn’t give a shit that she’s first class.
A few minutes later they announce: “Now we’re boarding all Platinum Member Premium Rich-ass passengers.” I’m not a rich-ass so I still can’t get on the plane yet but I’m content. My flight this morning is into Dallas/Fort Worst so while I wait, I play a little game I like to call “Spot the Texan.”
Ordinarily this is a very easy game. Their stupid accent gives them away every time. But I put in some earplugs to make it more challenging. The woman sitting next to me is wearing a black sweater with all kinds of shiny gold metal bits sewed on the front. Yeup, she’s definitely a Texan. No one from St. Louis would wear a sweater that fucking ugly.
The man sitting across from me is wearing cowboy boots. I suspect he’s a Texan too. If he were wearing a cowboy hat or a big silver belt buckle then I’d know for sure. But he isn’t. “Excuse me sir, are you a Texan?” I ask, leaning forward in my seat.
“Yessir,” he answers in his silly accent. “Whahh do ya ask?”
“Because you aren’t wearing a sweater with shiny gold shit sewed on the front so I wasn’t sure,” I reply. “By the way, in case no one’s told you yet, you sound just like Foghorn Leghorn from the cartoons.”
They board the “Gold Slick Guy Superior class” passengers, “the Prime Aluminum Class” passengers, and the “Somewhat Select Copper class” passengers. And then after they’ve thoroughly driven home our peon status, they finally let the rest of us board.
“Alight, the rest of you morons can board now,” the boarding agent announces.
When the plane takes off, it’s always kind of anticlimactic for me. I mean, I want a long scarf around my neck, aviator’s goggles and the wind in my hair. I want to hear the sound of machine gun fire ripping into the wing, flak blanketing the sky, and bombs dropping. It’s like the question they always ask you at the gate: “Would you like a window seat or one on the aisle sir?” That’s a stupid question with me because I don’t want to sit either place.
“Ball turret Gunner please,” I always answer. “I wanna ride the bottom of the plane in a glass bubble with two huge guns at my disposal. Can you accommodate me? Super. Thank you.”
And just so you know, when a random flight crashes between St. Louis and Texas later this morning there won’t be any need for an investigation. “Delta Airlines Flight 104 went down this morning just outside of Atlanta in a fiery crash that claimed hundreds of lives,” the news commentator will soberly report. “The crash is being credited to the daring young Ball turret Gunner of American Airlines Flight 1303 who skillfully cut their tail section to pieces with his .50 millimeter cannons.”
After takeoff, the stewardesses are nowhere to be seen. I suppose they’re all strapped into their little seats up front. Have you ever noticed how closely they resemble mannequins? They do. I’m not sure if it’s the makeup, the uniform, the build, or all of the above. I always want to say to them, “Hey, haven’t I seen you somewhere before? Oh wait, I remember. I saw you propped up on a block at JC Penny’s wearing a lavender-colored outfit from the ‘Cathy Lee Fall Collection.’”
Christ! I wish they’d turn the damn seatbelt signs off so I could get my microwave oven and TV dinners out of the overhead compartment. The seatbelt signs are the little carrot the mannequins and the captain dangle in front of your nose. “Ladies and Gentleman, please refrain from doing anything remotely entertaining until the seatbelt signs have been turned off. Just sit there and be totally fucking bored, alright?”
Occasionally a bell chimes over the intercom. Ding! Then it chimes again. Ding! I look up but my situation hasn’t changed – the seatbelt and no smoking signs are still lit. What’s the deal here? Then I remember that the captain uses the bells to communicate with the stewardesses. In my boredom, I put my master terrorist mind to work on decoding the hidden meaning of the bells. After a thorough analysis, I decide one bell means ‘bring the captain another beer.’ And two bells means that ‘the god-damned passengers are having sex in the coach restroom again.’
Finally the seatbelt signs go off and one of the mannequins gets on the intercom to break the good news. “The captain has turned off the seatbelt signs and passengers are free to move about the cabin.” Fuck yeah we’re free to move about the cabin. In fact, we’re free to play volleyball, jog, wrestle – whatever we feel like. Me? I’m gonna do handstands in the aisle and count loudly in Spanish. “Uno! Dos! Tres! Motherfucking Quatro!!! Yeah!”
“Ladies and Gentleman, please exercise caution when opening the overhead compartments as the contents may have shifted during flight.” What are they really trying to say here? “Look you fuckers, don’t just slam open the overhead compartments because someone’s microwave oven may have slid around during takeoff and it might fall out and whoop some Texan right on the head. And while I think we would all agree that that would be really funny, we don’t wanna get sued, alright?”
The rich, fat, stupid girl is walking up the aisle with her parents. Apparently they’re going to visit the captain. I’m surprised they still let kids do that these days. I always figured if you asked if your kid could visit the captain they’d say something like, “I’m sorry sir, but that’s entirely too cliché.”
The old lady sitting next to me fell asleep as soon as we got in the air. That was a mistake. As soon as her head nodded forward, I dropped her hand into a pot of warm water. Then I covered her eyebrows with peanut butter, and did her hair with shaving cream. She looks pretty good now. The other passengers are laughing at her. This is entertainment for you, huh? Well just wait until you fall asleep buddy.
The drink cart goes by on its way up to front of the cabin.
“Would you like something to drink sir?” a mannequin asks me.
“Would I like something to drink?” I ask incredulously. “Would I like something to drink??!! Are you some kind of idiot?! Of course I’d like something to drink! I want a whole bunch to drink. Get me a bottle of Scotch. No wait, get me a trough. Yeah, you heard me right. A trough – like horses and cows and pigs drink out of. Yeah, I’ll have a trough of Scotch please. On the rocks.”
But I need more than a trough of Scotch. I need entertainment. Even with the seatbelt signs off, I’m getting bored really quickly. I think I’ll play “the Cigarette Game” – that’ll pass some time. Here are the rules: even if you don’t smoke, stick a cigarette in your mouth and pretend to light it every once in awhile. When one of the mannequins gets angry and informs you it’s a non-smoking flight, point out that you aren’t smoking.
“I’m not smoking. See, it’s not even lit. I’m just practicing. Quit disturbing me, alright? You’re ruining my concentration.”
Foghorn Leghorn has made two trips to the bathroom already. Both times he took the newspaper in there with him. Sherlock Homes would surely deduce that the Texan has taken two shits so far this flight. He must have eaten a big breakfast. Wait a minute, that makes sense. They say everything is big in Texas: big breakfasts, and big shits too I suppose.
The drink cart has traveled the length of the cabin and then they wheel the food cart out. But you guessed it, they don’t call it ‘the food cart.’
“Ladies and Gentleman, as ‘the Bistro cart’ passes your seat please take one meal per person.”
Bistro? Bistro?! Who are they kidding? It’s gonna be some piece of shit, suspicious looking sandwich ‘wrap’ and a crusty bag of raisins. Maybe if I’m lucky there’ll be a ‘Mrs. Oatman’s New Orleans-style Sugar Cookie.’ They always give you name-brand crap on the plane hoping you’ll be won over and will go home and purchase the item at your local grocery store. But Mrs. Oatman? Nope. Fuck you bitch. Your cookies taste like shit. I’m not buying.
Some people like to sit in Business class but I don’t. What’s Business class you ask? They sit you in the very front rows of the coach cabin. The idea is you’re supposed to get more legroom and a little better service. And I like that – that more legroom thing. But it really sucks because just past the little curtain, I can see right into first class!
Up there they’re drinking wine and eating Steak Tar-tar and shrimp cocktails and it’s not even remotely fair for me to have to watch. As soon as I finish eating my shitty ‘wrap,’ I’m gonna trespass into first class and start begging. “Hey you old geezer, gimme a hit of that wine. Are you gonna eat the rest of your scalloped potatoes? Can I scam a few bites of your apple turnover? Can you spare five dollars? I need to make an air call.”
The captain comes on the intercom to tell us about the weather in Dallas. He says it’s 100 degrees and sunny. What a surprise. Isn’t it always 100 degrees and sunny in Texas? Why even bother to announce it? He should just say, “I gotta tell ya partners, the weather in Dallas today is dammmmnnnn hot! Whew boy! Goddamn is it hot in ‘ole Texas today! Yehaw!”
It’s an hour and a half flight into Dallas, and I have a two-hour layover once we arrive. It’s no big deal though. If you have to waste time in an airport, Dallas/Fort Worst Airport is the place to be. They have those moving walkways in between the gates. We’re talking hours of entertainment. Here’s the thing – on the walkways you can run twice as fast as normal. Really. I don’t think you understand – YOU CAN RUN SUPER FAST!
I like to pretend I’m the Bionic Man. I run up and down them as fast as I can and make the bionic noise. “Look at me, look at me! I’m super fast! I’m bionic!! I’m bionic!!” I yell to passerby.
Yes sir, I will have some fun when I get to Dallas/ Fort Worst Airport. I’ll be super fast. Wait, no! I’ll be a super fast bionic master terrorist. People will fear me and the drinks will flow like water. Because as all mannequins know, a drunk super fast bionic master terrorist is easier to wrestle to the floor.