I’m flying from New York to London almost on a monthly basis. Having recently moved to the UK, I keep having to go back and visit my girlfriend of less than a year, only because I am too much of a pussy to break up with her.
It’s Sunday evening and, after yet another weekend wasted, I am on the red eye back to London. I know that as soon as I land, I will have to take the train into town, race home to shower and change and then greet another arduous week on the wrong foot – knowledge that is quick to breed a quiet concoction of anger and resentment.
I’m sitting in the lounge waiting to board, thinking about how miserable the trip is. Even in business class, it sucks. By the time you take off, it’s a race to have enough drinks, recline your seat and fall asleep. And a mere 4 hours later, some lardy, badly-aged British cunt is standing over you telling you to put your seat up for landing because ‘we’re 20 minutes from landing.’ As if she doesn’t fucking know that we’re just going to circle Heathrow for another hour anyway.
I pass the time by double-fisting glasses of red wine, and looking at the pictures in Yachting magazine. I’ve really never understood why airport lounges are the only places in the world where, presumably, people like to peruse boating magazines. Thirty minutes before boarding, time for the Klonopin, and the switch to Johnny Walker doubles on the rocks. I don’t even like Johnny Walker, but it’s free, and it’s there.
Some people like to board first. That’s retarded. I like to board last. I guess if I had to fight for overhead storage space, I might feel differently.
Once I get on the plane, I settle quickly into my aisle seat upstairs. My only objective at this point is to keep drinking so that I can fall asleep as quickly as possible. The stewardess comes by with the hot towels, a concept that I wish would catch on everywhere besides just airplanes, Asian beach resorts, and rub ‘n tug joints.
Next up is the pre-flight drinks tray: orange juice, water, ‘champagne’, or red wine. She looks at me strangely as I reach for 2 glasses, but what the fuck, their dwarfy wine glasses are bullshit. “When we take off, please bring them two at a time; It’ll save us both time,” was my simple curt response to her “Ello. Welcome to British Airways.”
Fortunately, we take off on time. Nothing is worse than sitting at the gate for prolonged periods of time. For whatever reason, if you are in the air, they will serve you as many drinks as you want. But at the gate, they are stingy as Hell.
The drinks keep coming and I shift my focus to Denzel Washington’s ‘Man on Fire’. Airlines fucking love that movie for some reason; it is to airplanes what The Shawshank Redemption or Road House is to TNT. Just a few more drinks, half a Xanax, and I’ll be ready to recline into the not-quite-so-flat position and float away. This is before the herringbone seat configuration, so there isn’t even the possibility of rubbing one out.
The next thing I know, I am being shaken awake by another stewardess. She’s good looking by BA standards, not hot, but I’ve probably traded worse.
“I’ve been trying to wake you. Please put your seat into the upright position, we need to make an emergency landing,” she says, and then immediately disappears.
Barely awake and far from lucid, I have an impossible time comprehending the fact that the plane is shaking seemingly uncontrollably, and that, at the same time, we’re experiencing violent jolts of turbulence.
“What the Hell is going on?” I ask the pasty ginger gunt sitting across from me. He looks fucking frightened. “The plane has a-a-a problem. We ne-need to ma-make an emerge-ge-gency landing?”
What the fuck? Last time I checked, we’re in the middle of the fucking Atlantic Ocean. But before I could ask that retard to elaborate, the pilot comes over the speaker.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a reminder. We need all of you to stay calm and remain in your seats. Due to a mechanical failure, we will be making an emergency landing at _________ Military Base in Greenland.” I’m not being coy, I have no recollection what it was called.
I didn’t need to hear any more; I’m going to die. My heart doesn’t sink like I always thought it would in this situation, but I am fucking terrified. Without hesitation, I grab the air phone, swipe my credit card and begin the process of saying my good byes. I am oddly calm, a fact that probably doesn’t shock the medical community considering the alcohol, Klonopin, and Xanax cocktail. But hey, I’m not a doctor.
“Hi Mom. My plane is about to crash, so I just wanted to say good-bye and that I love you,” I say matter-of-factly. Whenever I call home, I usually speak to both of my parents at the same time, a habit that I picked up when I left for boarding school. It saved time by not having to repeat everything twice, and always cut down on my parents’ phone bill. No, they’re not Jewish.
“What?” My Dad interjects, “You’re calling from the airplane? This has gotta be costing you a fortune.”
“Shut up, Harold. I am talking to my son.” My usually passive mother interjects.
“Have you been drinking?” my Dad pipes in again. “Hang up the phone Francine; everything is fine.”
“Shut up, Harold. I want to hear my son.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t say it often enough, Mom. But I just want to say thank you, and that I love you.”
My next call was to my ex-girlfriend. It went to her answering machine. Yes, this happened back when people still had home phones and answering machines.
“Hi Sheila. I am calling you because my plane is about to crash. And I’m probably not going to make it. I just wanted to let you know that you were the one. You were the one, my soul mate, my lobster (and to think that I always made the jerk-off hand-motion in my mind whenever she would say that), and I’m sorry that I ever let you get away. I will always love you, and will be looking over you.”
It didn’t matter that our relationship ended very badly and that we hadn’t spoken since. It didn’t matter that she subsequently went on to marry the next guy she went out with. I’m sure her husband will love listening that message. But, it’s not like I said anything crazy about ‘that thing’ she does with her tongue, probably because the lazy bitch never did anything crazy with her tongue.
And obviously, that’s not her real name; I’d never fucking date a ‘Sheila.’
After that, I slowly worked my way through my Rolodex of close friends to bid my farewells. The rest is, for the most part, a blur. And then, everything fades away.
The next thing I know, I am sitting in a wheelchair. If this were a movie, six months would have passed and I, the lone survivor, would be sitting in a hospital bed in Bermuda, surrounded by hot nurses trying to help me overcome my amnesia and piece my life back together. Instead, I am in a NHS-looking relic of a wheelchair in the British Airways arrival lounge at Heathrow. I look at my watch. 8 hours have passed since my last memory. I look at my phone. 12 voicemail messages, 29 texts, and 37 missed calls.
One person I neglected to call during my ordeal, my current girlfriend. And actually, the blessing of this experience is that when she heard this story soon thereafter, she was so upset that she wasn’t on my list of people I’d call before I die, that she ended the relationship.
I roll myself towards the door, before remembering that I might as well walk. I’m already going to be late into the office.