Thursday, June 25, 2009

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

I don’t fly much. It’s rare if I get up in the air once every year or two.

So when I do hop a flight, I pay attention. To people, things, conversations, etc. Here are a few observations from a plane to Las Vegas last weekend.

• I was seated in an exit row on both flights, which got me approximately two miles of leg room. At no extra charge!

When the flight attendant came and asked if I accepted the responsibilities of sitting in an exit row, I wanted to reply, “You mean the “responsibility” of stretching my legs all the way out every five minutes so I don’t cramp up on the four-hour flight? Yes! Absolutely!”

One lady on the trip home apparently didn’t want exit row responsibilities, because as she switched places with another passenger, she said, “That just creeps me out!”

• Perhaps it’s a sign of my simple mind, but it’s still almost magical to me that when a behemoth of a vehicle like that gets up to a certain speed, the ground slowly drops away and off we soar into the clouds. All by adjusting a couple little flappy things on the wings. (Probably has something to do with those big engines, too, right?)

• Before we left the runway, one of the passengers closed her window shade and leaned against the inside wall of the airplane, and a flight attendant said, “Ma’am, we ask that you keep your window shade up during takeoff.”

Which made me immediately wonder to myself, “If that’s so the pilot can turn around and check his blind spot for runway traffic, I think maybe I’ll drive.”

• On a related note, after we were up in the air, the pilot announced over the speaker that there were some signs of turbulence ahead, “...but we’re just going to keep our fingers crossed and hope that it isn’t too severe.”

Wait, what? First we have blind spots, now we have our “fingers crossed”? Where did I put my car keys??

• As we flew, I determined that the term “turbulence” as it relates to ground travel is akin to driving an Amish buggy down an old cobblestone street. You might get jostled and bumped around a bit, but for the most part it’s no big deal.

Of course, in an Amish buggy, you don’t get that occasional dip that makes you wonder if the pilot is in the cockpit using the joystick that controls the plane to play a video game.

• It seems as though many passengers use a flight as an opportunity to start a new book, as all readers in my vicinity, without exception, were no further than page 20 as we began our flight.

• When it comes to seatmates, it helps if you feel at least somewhat comfortable being near them. Because while I’m of a certain size in which I fill my seat rather completely, and the lady next to me was of generally the same size, when we both leaned back to catch some high-altitude Z’s, it almost felt as if we were, um...cuddling.

We’ve since become a couple that argues about who gets to use the arm rest.

• The girl in front of me didn’t need to request a pillow to be comfortable. She just used her boyfriend/husband’s shoulder. The whole...way...out. (Hope he wasn’t pitching in a big game last weekend.)

• As the beverage cart passes up and down the aisle, it inadvertently bumps shoulders, elbows, etc., and during one pass, the flight attendant said, “Sorry. Sorry! Wide load!” (insert dramatic pause here) “The cart! I mean the cart!” she said, providing a free chuckle.

• Safety note: When using the airplane bathroom, please be sure that all ties, necklaces, shoestrings and hanging appendages are firmly secured before flushing the toilet. Or you might just get sucked right out of the plane!

As we descended upon Las Vegas, looking out the window at Lake Mead and the natural landscape below us, seeing the city in the distance becoming more defined, I wondered how much richer I would be on the return flight five days later.

Answer? Much. So much richer. For the experience.

The wallet...that’s another story.

“The airplane stays up because
it doesn’t have the time to fall.”
—Orville Wright

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Three Words.

While my brain is working itself back into Reality Mode, I wanted to post at least a thought or two about my trip to Las Vegas last weekend.

“Hmm,” I said to myself, “what are three words that best describe my time there?” I kicked around a few ideas:

Can’t. Stop. Gambling.

Cirque. Shows. Rock.

Beers. Pools. Beers.

Social. House. Delicious!

(the above coupled with my newest discovery: I. Hate. Sake.)

Then it hit me, and I knew I had my three words. And believe me, I’m the furthest thing from a fashionisto you’ll ever meet. But they were everywhere. And impossible to miss.



“If people turn to look at you on the street,
you are not well dressed.”
—Beau Brummel

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How Many “Middles” In Middle-Aged?

I’ve been thinking lately about age, and the simple idea of growing older.

And a recent trip to the grocery store...where you can learn so much if you just listen, right?...put a bit of a new twist on things for me.

I snuck into the checkout line with a dozen or so items after a day of activities and the goal of getting home and crossing a few things off of my To-Do list, and walked into the middle of a conversation between the checkout girl and a couple in front of me.

“…oh, I know, I just don’t like getting old,” was the first thing I heard the checkout girl say as I started to unload my items onto the conveyor belt.

“You’re not old,” said the lady in front of me.

“Hmm, but I feeeel old,” the girl emphasized.

“You can’t be that old.”

“I’m older than I look.”

Here’s where I decided to quietly join the game, and looked up and gave the checkout girl a quick glance. Twenty-four, maybe 25, I thought to myself, giving it my best guess.

“How old are you?” asked the customer.

“I’m 20,” said the girl.

Whoops. I guess I was off by a year or two or five.

If she’s older than she looks, as she said, I wondered if she thought she looked 17? Eighteen?

“Ack!” scoffed the lady. “You’re not even old enough to go to a bar.”

“I still do!” the girl boasted, a lilt of pride almost visible in her voice.

So at first, she was trying to convince the lady how old she felt, and in the next breath she was almost bragging that she was able to sneak into bars under age.

“You’re not old,” the lady returned to her original argument.

“I’m middle-middle-aged!” retorted the girl.

I had no plans to enter this conversation, realizing the futility of arguing with a girl who claims she’s “old” at 20. But I made a quick mental note of that new phrase, and wondered if I could even punctuate it correctly when I wrote about her on my blog. Because she was most. definitely. blog material.

The lady insisted once again that the girl was far from old, and the girl proudly repeated her rank on the aging scale.

“I’m middle-middle-aged!”

Ah, yes. I remember when I was middle-middle-aged. Back in the day when I had to...find someone old enough to buy me beer.

The age question is one I’ve been pondering off and on lately. Not obsessing over, mind you, but...recognizing.

According to the checkout girl’s timeline, I officially become “middle-aged” in about a week and a half.

The number isn’t really bothering me as much as I’m saying it is, because age is just a number, right? And a small-talk conversation in a checkout line.

I’ll be turning that number in Las Vegas, where I think there’s an unwritten rule that on your birthday you don’t turn a year older, but instead turn two or three years younger.

I just made that up. But I plan to stay there until it comes true, and I rewind back to about my mid-20s.

So fine. I’m soon going to be middle-aged. (that one I at least know how to punctuate.)

But aside from a few (hundred) gray hairs, I look...and act...younger than I am.

Does that counter-logic work as well for bloggers as it does for checkout girls? Yeah. Didn’t think so.

“Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.”
—Bob Dylan