it's summertime and with summer time comes the usual request from the husband. "let's go some where fun, somewhere adventurous". that statement is usually followed by trips to the newsstand and bookstore, returning laden with travel magazines and guide books. "How about thailand" he asks. "uh hum" is my usual response. he has tried to lure me to africa, india, japan, vietnam and once the lesser antilles. it's not that i don't want to go on vacation or that i am not curious to see other countries and cultures, it's just that if we are going to go on vacation i would like to go by car. i am afraid to fly. there - i've said it. this has nothing to do with the rash of terrorism that has taken over the news since 9/11. oh no, i was afraid to fly long before it was fashionable. unfortunately, for me, i am married to a man who suffers from a terminal case of wanderlust and so, over the years, i have been forced, over and over, to swallow my fears and board a plane.
here is how i do it. this might not work for other phobics but this little routine is what gets me off the ground. it all begins with the reservations. i can only fly in front of the wing and on the aisle. i know that statistics show that in the event of a crash you are more likely to survive in the back of the plane but i have a different theory. first of all, how many people actually survive a plane crash? not many. given that fact, i would rather be seated in front of the wing where there is less turbulence and closer to the seat of power, the pilot. now, sometimes the reservation person will give me a hard time. sometimes they tell me that none of those seats are available. that's when i tell them my sad story - how i am afraid to fly but my husband is forcing me to go. i tell them the tale of my weak bladder and how access to the toilet is crucial and if that doesn't work, i start to cry. nine times out of ten i get my seat.
part two of my routine is that i try to make sure that i am among the first to board. i need that extra time to carry out the most important mission of the flight. i must go into the cockpit and introduce myself to the pilot. after i have been assured that he is not drunk, blind or suicidal i then ask if there is any red on the radar (indicating thunderstorms) or if he is expecting the flight to be turbulent. most pilots usually lie and say no, but at least the lie gets me into my seat.
next comes an equally important step. i try to make friends with the flight attendants. this is a two fold plan. first, they are more apt to give me extra vodka, if needed, during the flight and secondly, i am sure that if i befriend them they will be more than likely to save me in the event of a catastrophe. the vodka is, as you may have already guessed, the last part of the plan. while i rarely drink on the ground i am quite the party girl at 35,000 feet.
the husband and i were flying from ecuador to miami and then on to new york for a meeting. the flight from quito to miami was a nightmare. the plane was two hundred years old and bouncing all over the skies. none of the flight attendants spoke english very well but, fortunately, they understood the international sign for vodka. during the four hour flight i managed to down four vodka tonics. we landed in miami with only twenty minutes to make our flight to jfk. twenty minutes is not long enough to recover from four vodka tonics and so i boarded the american airlines jet to new york just a wee bit tipsy. we took off in what looked to me like a thunderstorm. immediately, i felt i had sobered up and ordered the first of three more vodkas. at this point i was very happy. the husband was astounded i could still speak but speak i did. i formed a close personal relationship with our very gay flight attendant, mark. just before we landed at jfk i excused myself to go to the ladies room. i think mark was relieved to see me go . i know the husband was.
on entering the rest room, i took one look in the mirror and almost fainted. i looked like a monster. my eyes were mere slits and i had make-up smeared all over my face. the less said about the state of my hair the better. i staggered from the rest room and grabbed onto mark's arm for support. "Oh my god, mark, when i get to new york i am going to have to spend a week at elizabeth arden's" to which mark replied, straight faced, "honey, i was thinking more like betty ford's".