Trapped In An Airport
3/14/2009. 12:00 AM EST.
I am awake. Later today, I will be flying to Australia to visit friends during spring break. My flight leaves Boston for Sydney via Los Angeles at 6 AM, so I have decided to stay up and just sleep on the plane. This seems like a good plan. I will eat something and entertain myself.
What's this, a box of pizza bagels.
3/14/2009. 1:00 AM EST.
I have eaten all the pizza bagels in my house and also my neighbor's house.
3/14/2009. 3:00 AM EST.
I have completely beaten Little Big Planet, including every custom level by that Scandinavian guy who made World of Colour and that level with the scary haunted house and roller coaster. My sackboy dances triumphantly. He is fearless and strong like Achilles, and all will kneel before him to beg for forgiveness.
3/14/2009. 5:45 AM EST.
As I wait to board the airplane a large man with rastafarian dredlocks and a dirty suit comes up and begins shining my shoes.
I am wearing sneakers.
3/14/2009. 6:30 AM EST.
I am sitting next to an old stripper and her guido sugardaddy. She is wearing a rumpled blazer, a red and white polka dot top, a preposterous black skort, and too much bronzer. He is wearing a green sweatervest with nothing on beneath. His greying chest hair sticks out the top and makes it look like he's trying to smuggle a venerably aged hamster across state lines between his saggy bitch tits. They begin talking about golf. I immediately, mercifully fall asleep.
3/14/2009. 10:00 AM PST.
As soon as the plane touches down I can smell the smog. It smells like broccoli and fart. I stumble off the jetway and into the red carpet club, where the attendant casts a disapproving look at my tshirt and jeans but lets me in. I find a couch and crash again.
3/14/2009. 12:00 PM PST.
I am woken by the sound and sensation of a maid accidentally vacuuming my shoelaces. I hide my bags behind a couch and walk jauntily down the corridor to the food court, where I order a delicious pizza. The cashier gives me a funny look as I pay. As I return to the club, the attendant stares at me. They are clearly confused by how good looking I am.
3/14/2009. 1:00 PM PST.
I went to go pee. While washing my hands I looked in the mirror.
The entire left side of my face is covered in blue ink. I look like papa smurf came on my cheek, like I'm the bastard halfbreed son of the entire Blueman Group. What the hell???
3/14/2009. 3 PM PST.
I have been stuck in LAX for 5 hours with 7 more to go. A friend of mine emails me and says to go buy a pretzel at the food court. He says they are incredibly delicious. I make sure that I am completely free of ink and go.
3/14/2009. 4:30 PM PST.
There are no pretzels to be found in this entire airport. I write my friend to inform him of this.
3/14/2009. 5:00 PM PST.
He emails me back and tells me he knows this, that he indeed had painstakingly researched the one sort of food not served at any food court in LAX.
In two weeks, when I return, I will kill him in his sleep.
3/14/2009. 6:00 PM PST.
Across the room, a three year old girl screams while ramming her stroller again and again into the plate glass overlooking the tarmac. She has been at it for an hour straight. Her mother watches with deadened eyes. Her father is trying to watch ESPN 360 but the wireless internet won't support it so he curses and bangs the laptop down on the table. So this is marriage.
Two recent graduates of the Douchebag School of Business sit next to me. They spend the next half hour finding strippers on mySpace and phoning them to ask them to come to their place for a party tonight.
Eight hours down, four hours to go. I am beginning to think that I have lived forever in this hollow concrete hell.
3/14/2009: 8:00 PM PST.
Does David the Gnome have a vibrant sex life? These are things I think about.
I have already written two papers, solved world peace, and sketched out a half dozen business plans that will make me fabulously wealthy as soon as I get out of this goddamn airport.
3/14/2009: 9:00 PM PST.
I go to use the bathroom. I am disoriented and lost, out of place and unstuck in time.
The harsh fluorescence only contributes to my confusion. I walk to the sink. The toilet, the faucet, the paper towel, all manual, but the soap dispenser is hands free. I discover this as I bend down over the sink to wash my face and it rockets a gallon of soap directly into my eye.
3/14/2009: 10:00 PM PST.
As we board the plane, I munch down the last of my dinner - a giant burrito with extra beans. Fellow passengers eye me with trepidation. I will soon learn that I have broken the first rule of overseas travel: no mexican before international air travel.
3/15/2009: 12:00 AM PST.
oh god i cannot stop farting. The lights in the cabin are still on, so I wrap a blanket around my head like a low-riding turban and try to cover it with sleep.
3/15/2009: 4:00 AM PST.
A flight attendant wakes me. They want me to unwrap the blanket. I assume they are afraid I am wrapped in some sort of terrorist cocoon, and that the mild-mannered white boy who entered will emerge as John Walker Lindh.
3/15/2009: 8:00 AM PST.
Chaos. I finally wake fully to find that my farts have spread throughout most of coach. I can see people holding their nose in panic several rows ahead and behind.
I think my involvement remains a secret. The flight attendants came around here looking concerned and asking if anyone was lactose intolerant and having milk farts. Excellent. Plausible deniability.
In tears - born, I think, of both frustration and odor - the flight attendants huddle up around the emergency exit ahead of me and begin to discuss options. They are trying to figure out the exact operating parameters for oxygen mask use. Their suspicion centers around a fat old gramma who is asleep one row to my left. So does that of most of the passengers.
3/15/2009: 9:00 AM PST.
Populist revolt in international airspace. They threw gramma out the emergency exist, bifocals and all. Everyone in the cabin, eyes tearing, swore a sacred oath to secrecy. The retired judge; the cop on vacation; the young kindergarten teacher. All willingly inflicted death upon an old woman in the vain hope that it would ease their agony.
I begin to believe my fellow man capable of anything when exposed to the corrupting force of extended gas. I begin to make a serious effort to hold them in. 7 hours to go.
3/15/2009. 2:00 PM PST.
I was served an "omelette" the size of a twinkie and filled with something the rough color and texture of newborn baby poop. The flight attendant is flirting with the woman next to me although he is gay and she is married. The normal rules don't apply here. It is as if this is a different world where the air is always too dry and your neck is always cramped and the only media available for the technology of television are the Daniel Craig Bond movies and the first three seasons of Grey's Anatomy. A terrible world, a world where grandmothers are thrown from emergency exits and my left leg is always asleep and I pray for death but it never comes because IIam a ghost a phantom haunting the air alone forever.
On the bright side, this banana bread isn't bad.
3/15/2009. 2:30 PM PST.
I just realized that it has been dark outside my window for the entirety of my sixteen hours aboard this plane. I am beyond light, beyond this world. The sun is burnt to cinders and the moon caught the last train out of town. If this ship held its present course and speed we'd spend the rest of forever burning through the dark, always one step ahead of time, forsaking the day and our fellow man for all eternity, accursed and afraid and always alone.
So this is what it feels like to be Richard Stallman.
3/15/2009. 4:00 PM PST:
I land in Sydney. After going through a cursory security check - I didn't even have to remove my shoes - I enter the terminal. There is free Internet. I buy a SIM card listed at $19 at the duty free. It costs me $10 American. I am in heaven. And now another plane to Melbourne and my final destination.
3/15/2009. 5:00 PM PST.
I have now spent the last 36 consecutive hours either aboard an airplane or in an airport. As I stare through the plate glass windows of the Melbourne terminal and watch the sunrise, it occurs to me that I have forgotten what life on the outside is like. I don't think I'll be able to navigate a kitchen, a bed, or a human size toilet again.
As I walk towards the rotating glass door, my nose wrinkles at the smell of fresh air. Open space surrounds me. I grasp for my armrests for reassurance and discover they are gone. The sunlit, verdant landscape beckons like the bosom of a tattered roadhouse whore. A wild bird calls sweetly in the distance and in my mind the hounds of hell bay for human flesh.
I am afraid.