Suggested Audio Candy:
Foo Fighters “Learn To Fly”
I loathe airports. Once your bag is checked in and you stub out your last cigarette for the foreseeable, you give yourself over to a long, arduous struggle in which you wait, wait some more, do a spot more loitering and then find out your flight has been delayed by three hours for electronic faults. In that time, you get to share your experience with a vast array of fellow travelers, all frayed and losing the same will to live and desperate to get under your feet at any given opportunity. There’s little Scotty, the seven-year old freckled fire starter who is destined to spend the whole journey kicking you in the back and Edna, the less-than-hospitable airline hostess who looks nothing like the brochure and suffers acute gingivitis. Every time that duty-free trolley whisks past it will claim a further chunk of your kneecap and she won’t raise a smile but once during your passage. It is her job to make you feel like she has it in for you in particular and this is because she does. There’s no chance of the window seat, instead you’re invariably placed between a bickering middle-aged couple, one of which farts involuntarily each time he shifts cheeks in his seat and the other whose back fat clearly hangs over your side of the divide. On the plus side, wayward cellulite proves quite the formidable cushion when on journeys as long as mine currently.
Being 6″1 doesn’t help much. Whoever designed the seats did so with an impish glint in their eye as they knew full well what ten hours in the same scrunched-up position would do to a man of my length. It’ll fuck you up good and you’ll likely exit the jet feeling as though you’ve just pitched a tent in your anus. I end up flailing my limbs in all directions, desperate for a more comfortable setting, and make all manner of attempts at falling unconscious which end up in vain every time. Not one shitting time have I flirted with slumber in over thirty years of amassing air miles. It’s impossible without a meat tenderizer or four times the prescribed amount of sleeping tablets. There have been occasions where I have felt my leaden eyelids begin to flutter but, when this occurs, Edna returns firstly to callously remove a little more knee blubber and secondly to offer the obligatory in-flight gourmet. If there are two choices then yours will have run out just before her arrival. “No more chicken and potato, all we got is lasagna. You’ll eat it and you’ll like it”. As she leaves you all doey-eyed and somber she will aim the edge of her death chariot towards your sorest spot just to keep it raw and agonizing. As for the grub before you, well Italian cuisine doesn’t travel well when vacuum packed and your lasagna will taste like the off-cuts of an emu’s vagina, all flaps and no fragrance. It’s little wonder we all lose weight on the flight home.
Never fear, in-flight entertainment is here. Yes, at just a single touch of the screen you can fail to activate the options and instead accidentally call Edna back for assistance. Bad choice son, I can hear those wheels trundling this way and she doesn’t sound best pleased. Finally, a list of movies forms before your very eyes and the folk compiling the short list are clearly having a laugh at your expense too. On a flight to New York a few years back I watched Peter Jackson’s King Kong on my tiny monitor. This once proud gibbon was transformed into little more than a stunted chimp as any spectacle became somewhat lost in translation. Then, as if I hadn’t already learned a valuable enough lesson, I chose Gravity the last time I was airborne. I figured that the best way to stomach Sandra Bullock was to condense her into a screen barely large enough to play Tetris on. Little did I know that her face would fill said screen the entire time as she bumbled from one ominous scenario to the next. I remember spending the whole time desperate for George Clooney to drift past once again, but he didn’t anywhere near enough. Most frustratingly of all, she was really quite good in it.
Being lodged between Harold and Maude makes it rather difficult relieving oneself. At some point, you’ll lift Maude’s bingo wing and slide from beneath, making your way awkwardly to the disorderly queue formed around the tiny in-house. Any hopeful glances around will highlight only that Edna’s camp as Ernest colleague Tim has decided you fit the bill for some mile high club action. Damn these pretty boy looks, I must give off the aroma, Tim seems to have picked up my scent and is now thinking of ways to plunder my back fortress. As if my sorry sphincter needs the fight right now, it already feels like it has taken three of Ronald McDonald’s digits, each strapped with a McNugget. Now it has to clench for Tim. No Tim, no. I will hold it in thanks, little do you know I have in my possession a bladder more powerful than you’ll ever imagine. Four more hours and, if I get cut truly short, then I’ll piss where I’m sat. Maude’s fat will soak it up. Because of the lousy meal selection, I am now considering mugging someone on a confined jet to afford myself that $15 Toblerone gift set. Curse my sweet tooth, maybe Tim could slip me a pyramid or two, although that’ll likely cost me a hand job in the world’s tiniest latrine and I’ll spend the whole time resisting his attempts to push my head down. No Toblerone is worth that, no matter how elaborate the bow.
My favorite thing of all about flying though would have to be queuing up after ten hours of recurring anguish to go through customs. It’s like spending hours being fisted by a Sasquatch and then filling in a twelve page incident report form. It’s the same reason why philandering Tim gets away with his wandering hands and bitter crone Edna is allowed to continue her wrath of high-altitude terror. They prey on the weak and we all just have to take it. What’s most refreshing is when there’s nobody at the airport to greet you and you are forced into continuing your pilgrimage with your over-encumbered case which only has back wheels. And what better way to conclude your plight with a nice friendly jaunt through London’s heaving subway network. Don’t fret, soon the ordeal will be over and you’ll have chronic jet-lag to look forward to. Edna and Tim will be there in spirit as you writhe around in your bed, haunting each nightmare and reenacting their perpetual torment. It makes you wonder why ferries never really took off. Regardless, we battle on, as we know it is a necessary evil to face and face it we must. How else would we get from A-Z? I’m still holding out for the old relocation pod to invent itself, Brundle got it so close but alas it was never patented.
I almost negated to mention the penetrative screams of Scotty. You remember Scotty, the shit-nosed little brat whose thrashing legs found their home on your spleen for the duration. Well Scotty has never actually flown before and spends a good hour wailing after his ears pop. How is Maude ever expected to finish her Sudoku with that infernal wail ringing in her drums? Maybe if I recline my seat fast I will catch him unaware and crush his skull in. Seems a tiny bit harsh but, come on, ten hours playing musical statues between beached whales with odor issues. Maybe next time I shall come via private jet, all I need to do is become filthy rich and Gary Numan could shuttle me about. It’s alright for those shit heels in first class, I’m sure I discern the rumblings of samba music each time the drape opens. I envisage margaritas on tap, the finest Belgian truffles money can buy and massaging recliners which magically milk your prostate. Meanwhile, nearly three hundred assholes sit and squirm, notably the two chafing to my left and right. A couple of extra wipes would have done it Harold. Whoever taught you to go front to back anyhoots? You’re just pushing it further my way.
Remarkably, I have not had to endure any of these hardships on my current flight. Sure there was a Tim-a-like but he wasn’t in my jurisdiction and Edna wasn’t that bad all things considered. I just kept my head down and mimicked sleep for ten hours and came out a winner. My luck has changed, other than my rectum feeling like an overheated apple pie I feel no ill-effects. Let’s not get this twisted, the wheels on my suitcase still had their own designs and that subway trek was populated with more dour faces than a Mormon convention but, all things considered, I think I just flew under the radar. I shall be making the trip stateside again in little over a month and the cruel merry-go-round will wait for another chance to snag my sorry ass. What pleasures await? Maybe I will get the guy who takes off both his loafers and socks and commences to clip his toenails across the aisle. It’s refreshing now and again to be provided with a complimentary clipping of his second talon as he clips a little too excitedly. Hopefully it will be plenty jagged and I can use it as a potent serrated weapon to cut Scotty’s phlegm-clogged throat with. Stop picking your nose, if the wind changes then your septum will collapse and when that happens I’m gonna stick this $15 Toblerone straight in your shitty little ass. Then watch your ears pop you little punk.
I’ve enjoyed waxing about planes, did I have a memorable point to make about charter fights? Nah, I just wanted y’all to know that the eagle has landed. I have made it back to the motherland intact and remarkably refreshed. That means goodies for Grueheads. Right now I’m just chewing the fat with my beloved readership, attempting to realign my body clock and looking back on a life-altering experience. It’s pledge time so huddle up. Word on the street has it that there’s an avalanche coming. Keep it hush for now. I’m just relaying the message from the 15% of my cerebellum that has the slightest idea what I’m doing. I am inspired to push that little harder and burrow that bit deeper in my subconscious as I have learned the true key to extraction. I stand before you all naked, arms outstretched and not even a knitted ballbag bonnet to conceal my true identity. This is me, all of me. All that I scribe, no matter how irreverent, is there to bring a little joy. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a delicious little slab of fiction jostling about my cranium which I simply must take care of. You may now unfasten your seat-belts.