Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Flying high

Before last Friday I hadn't flown in 25 years. I was 8 the last time I flew and I don't remember much about it other than the fact that we had a long enough flight to have dinner and the flight attendant gave Tater and I bottles of wine and made us promise we wouldn't drink it till we got home. So now that I'm an adult who watches way too much TV and is on the internet way too much and has a tendency to obsess over way too much, the flight was making me super very much nervous. I was jumpy and nauseous sitting in the terminal. The cream cheese danish I had just eaten was threatening to do very nasty things in my stomach and I was regretting drinking a Coke, too. I wanted a cigarette and was wishing I had had time to go to the clinic and ask for some tranqs for the trip.

They called our zone to board and I willed my brain to send a message to my legs that would make them work and off we went. A security officer took a backpack right off a dude a few spots in front of us and searched him without a word of apology, explanation or even a square look in his eye. That did not help my nerves one bit. We walked down the little hallway and I was - nay, I think all of us were - expecting to see the plane at the end of it. Instead we saw a rickety looking metal stair thing. Me not being a frequent flyer assumed that this was normal and that my soap operas had portrayed air travel wrong and I followed Tater down the stairs that were really a glorified ladder. Then we followed everyone across the tarmac oh....about 4.3 miles to the smallest plane I've ever seen in my life. My son has Hot Wheel planes bigger than that thing. Tater turned around and laughingly said, "I've never flown on a plane this small!" I instantly had a gut feeling to turn and RUN. My stomach clenched and my heart started racing and I honestly thought Oh holy night I'm going to have a real live honest-to-goodness panic attack right here on the tarmac in Tulsa International Airport at 6 am and oh but it's going to be embarrassing.

But I took a few deep breaths, said a quick prayer and got on the plane - the plane that had a ceiling so low that when I stood up to my full height of 5'2" my head touched the ceiling. The seats were two and two and Mom and Tater were together, with me sitting across the aisle. There was a United States Army solider in the seat next to me and he was so not happy about having to sit next to the fat chick with nervous eyes and big hair. Seriously. He was instantly put out the second he realized I was going to be sitting next to him. I think his day got even worse when I realized that the seat belt was not going to buckle around me. Yep. The curse of the roller coaster struck again, this time on public air transportation. I was trying not to make eye contact with Mom or Tater because I knew I'd either start laughing so hysterically I'd alert security or I'd start crying so hard that an air marshal would just pull out his gun and shoot me right there on the spot. Finally, the flight attendant, seeing my plight, leaned down over me and said quietly, "If you'd like, I can get you an extension." Oh holy night. An extension. Every eye on the plane was on me, even though the attendant was very discreet. I nodded, she patted me on the leg and then I heard snickering. Mom and Tater were both holding back laughter to the point that tears were rolling down their faces.

Now, don't think that my mother and sister are cruel - on the contrary. They are both very sympathetic and well, frankly, they're big girls, too. They felt my pain and embarrassment, but they couldn't help but laugh. They both kept gasping out something about "the look on my face". Then, of course, I started laughing, too. I laughed till tears were flowing and when I stopped laughing long enough to take a breath I very quietly hissed, "I hate you both." This made us all three start laughing hysterically again.

The ride to Atlanta on the matchbox plane was very woozy. I couldn't look out the window, couldn't open my eyes, couldn't talk. While my eyes were closed I took the opportunity to pray. I got very close to God on that flight. I prayed that I wasn't going to die on a plane that was hardly big enough to hold my fat hind end, prayed that I wouldn't barf all over the put-out soldier beside me, prayed that I'd live long enough to attempt yet another diet, prayed that the rides in Disney World weren't going to be as small as my airplane seat.....oh yes, lots of praying. God and I are best buddies again, lemme tell ya. We visited the entire 2 hour flight. Mom and Tater were across the aisle, heads back, mouths open, snoring like mad and I was over there rededicating my life.

And when we hit solid earth in Atlanta I literally had to fight back the urge to kneel down and kiss the ground. Oh there was much thanking to my newly re-found best friend, God.

The flight from Atlanta to Orlando on a 757 went better because I got an extension the minute we got on the plane, before anyone had a chance to ogle the fat chick. But Mom, Tater and I were sitting side-by-side and lemme say, three fat butts side-by-side does not a supremely comfortable plane ride make. I don't think any of us had any blood in our legs by the time we landed, but that plane had individual TVs and we watched E! the entire flight so we didn't notice our lack of circulation too much. Until we tried to walk.

The flight home from Orlando to Atlanta was on a 767, one big mamba jamba of a plane. It was delayed about 30 minutes due to weather in Atlanta. Of course, I immediately was wishing for tranqs again. Seeing that the plane was GIGANTIC helped, though. Mom and I were side-by-side and Tater was across the aisle. I was able to read (The Devil Wears Prada) the entire flight and Mom and Tater slept. I couldn't sleep because we had actually flown out over the Atlantic Ocean and y'all know my insane fear of water and that is deep water. I was totally unnerved. It was a pretty rocky flight for such a big plane and the seatbelt light stayed on the entire flight. I did not like that. When we landed in Atlanta we found out that our flight to Tulsa was delayed about 10 minutes. When we walked as far as the next flight screen thingy it was delayed another 3 and by the next one, a whole 7 more.

We ate at Outback Steakhouse in the airport with plastic utensils. I'm not sure why we all three found that so dang funny, but we did. The conversation was hilarious, but I'll tell you about that in one of the next few posts.

The flight from Atlanta to home was on another Hot Wheels plane and was incredibly bumpy. After having been on the many, many thrill rides over the previous 3 days, though, I just closed my eyes and pretended I was still having fun. My seatbelt extension and I slept quite snugly nearly all the way home.


Mommy Needs a Xanax said...

I got very close to God on that flight.

That whole paragraph tripped me out, and I have so been there! I flew on a "matchbox plane" from Hattiesburg, MS to Memphis, TN once, and had a similar experience.

As for the extensions, I ALMOST need one of those, but can get by without one. The embarassing part is that the flight attendants usually offer me one without my asking for it. WTF?

Was this flight on Sept 11??? Holy shitballs. Tim flew out of Jackson on Sept. 10. There was a giant sign just inside the entrance that said, "THE RISK OF TERROR ATTACKS TODAY IS HIGH" in bright orange letters.

The tower of terror does indeed rock.

Queen Of Cheese said...

Was that the only plane going to Atlanta from Tulsa? I went from Tulsa to Atlanta on a 747, never had to ride in a small plane. Hmmm....God sure has a funny way of making wanderers come back to the fold! My flight to Orlando was pretty good until we landed next to a lake, who the F*(&K puts a LAKE next to an airport! I'm sure there were gators or something nasty in it just waiting for a plane to miss the runway.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Umm...when you were 8, a stewardess gave you some 'Jesus Juice' and told you not to drink it until you got home? Man! What were you wearing, some cute little camouflage pants and a black T-shirt?

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

From one really big girl to another, much smaller one, here's my airplane secret: Keep the seatbelt extension.

That's right. Keep it.

Years ago, after having to ask for the dreaded extension one too many times, I just slipped one right in my carry-on instead of returning it, and I've never had to ask for one again. It lives in my carry-on, where it is ready to roll at a moment's notice.

Also, I would never pay full price for First Class, but on some airlines you can upgrade for a hundred bucks or so. It is so worth it. Plenty of room, even for my big butt.

Kellyology said...

I have flown on those little "Hot Wheels" plane many a time out of Tulsa. For a while it seemed to be the only plan flying out of here... I feel your pain! They scare the crap out of me, but for some reason, my children love them.

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