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Flying the Not So Friendly Skies

March 15, 2010 Family Travel No Comments

There’s something about hot, sweaty, muggy weather that puts me in the mood for love. That’s because I got married on the hottest, most humid day ever experienced in Orange County.

My wedding day in July 1988 broke triple digits. Massive thunderclouds crowded over Saddleback Mountain saddling the area like a fat, warm wet towel. Because it was the 80s, I was wearing about fifty pounds of white satin and beads, sequins and lace. And that was just the mutton chop sleeves.

We got married to the strains of a swamp cooler. Thanks to three cans of Aqua Net and a Mork & Mindy perm, my big hair stayed big. My Cosmo cover make-up got shiny but thankfully didn’t slide down to my cleavage. I was trussed up like a rib roast in order to zip up. I couldn’t breathe, but the upside was how that boning took every speck of back fat and tummy roll and shifted it topside for amazing results.

Everything was shaping up for happily ever after. I had only one personal thundercloud marring the horizon: our honeymoon.

It’s not what you think. It wasn’t the wedding night, or the European vacation, or even the mound of thank you notes and Visa bills awaiting our return. It was the flights.

I was afraid of flying. Looking back, I’m sure I drove him crazy, clutching his hand every time the plane dipped a wing. I’m lucky he didn’t divorce me immediately upon landing at Heathrow.

He would just roll his eyes at me. Fast forward nineteen years and he is still rolling his eyes.

We decided to fly to San Francisco for an anniversary getaway weekend. I still don’t like air travel. Although I have less fear about the plane falling out of the sky, I have more fear about it being shot out. What that means is in almost two decades of marriage, nothing has changed.

My husband flies about as often as I go to Costco. He’s down with the rules & regs, the tricks and shortcuts. But he also likes to mess with me, so I never know if he is joking or not.

We were in the car on the way to the airport when he started in about my underwear. “You aren’t wearing one of those bras with metal in it, are you?” I immediately got defensive. “I’m not taking it off. He stepped up the guilt. “I guess you don’t mind getting pulled into secondary inspection where they strip-search you.”

He didn’t realize he was talking to a woman who had been through childbirth three times and had no dignity or shame left. “Oh, goody. I knew he was just getting warmed up. He asked me if I had checked-in online like I was supposed to. I pulled out the printouts, all proud of myself. I had nice little packets for everything: dinner reservations, hotel directions, show tickets. All he saw was the big letter “B.” I didn’t realize in Southwest Airlines lingo “B” stands for Better Bust your Bum to get a Decent Seat. The only thing worse is “C.” They should change it to “S” which stands for Screwed or Squished which is what you will be in that middle seat.

He got an evil glint in his eye. “This may mean we won’t be able to sit together.” That was a low blow. He knows how I need to clutch his hand during take-offs and landings, and bumpy bits, and through clouds, and when bells rings, and when the engine noises change. Ok, all the time.

He must have seen the sheer panic in my eyes because he relented. “Don’t worry. I’ll try to get us on an earlier flight.” An earlier flight? I didn’t like that idea at all. Isn’t that like playing Russian roulette with destiny? You always hear stories of people changing planes only to be trapped on the Flight of Doom. If only they’d kept their reservation, they’d still be with us today…I calmly explained these ramifications. He shook his head in disgust. It turns out that flying, according to the expert (my husband) is like war. It is all strategy. If you aren’t constantly advancing your position, crushing the less experienced along the way, you will never get to your destination. And don’t even get him started about Chicago O’Hare. We caught the earlier flight and even got to sit together.

I worried aloud about the light fog.My husband squeezed my hand. “Don’t worry. It’s only a hazard in the summer.”


Jody Payne

Mom Living Out Loud

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