Thursday, October 19, 2006

Flight Club

I am absolutely amazed at the amount of crap they can fit into a single airplane seat these days. I'm flying coach… er, "economy class," and still they found room to cram video games into the armrest. It's the nicest chair I've ever been in, except maybe for that Sharper Image massage chair, which may very well be on the other side of that obnoxious first-class… er, "business class," curtain. We've each got our own radio, television, phone, internet, and Playstation – well, it only plays solitaire, so maybe that doesn't count, but it's still like my entire bedroom stuffed into about six cubic feet. Along with the gratis mini-pillow and mini-blanket this WikiHow article warned me about, I could pretty much live here.

And flash forward eight hours into the future, when my spine is twisted ten different directions because I've tried turning the seat, armrest, and that one degree it reclines into a bed myriad different ways and none of them work. I can't live here, even if the puke bags are free.

For some reason, the seat in front of mine practically reclines ninety degrees, and this woman is totally in my lap. It sounds dirty, but it's merely annoying.

Did you know that they made a trippy animated film of those "in case of emergency" instructions? It's got pretty much the same production value as the laminated sheet that inspired it, but now I finally understand how your seat cushion could be used as a floatation device. I'm still not convinced that if the plane crashes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I will be surviving the three thousand mile swim back home, even if the emergency slide can be used as a life raft. Maybe that comes in the sequel.

Only real problem with the flight was that all the pilot's messages over the P.A. system were in Italian. And not the slow, enunciated Italian that I learned and subsequently forgot in high school, but the speedy, prolix Italian of someone who resents the English-speaking world and now at least has a good reason to. So, over the static hissing and the engines humming, you've got what I imagine that typical Italian cadence looks like when a fourteen-year-old types it into an email: buonasera signore signori e benvenuto alitalia volo seicentoesette severemo cena su questavolo e colazione prima arriveremo milanmalepnsa.... per ilcena saremo tuaopzione di carneopesce... and I think, "Okay, I understood benvenuto, but I hope the rest of that wasn't anything important like, 'Turn off your cell phones or we'll crash and all die in a fantastic fireball.'" Good news was: it wasn't. Just welcome aboard and we're serving dinner. You've got a choice of steak or fish. I had lasagna.

Oh yeah, feel free to insert your favorite Airplane! jokes in here too. Like with that safety video, surely you can't be serious. I am serious, and don't call me Shirley…. Well, I can't do it, but you know the joke. Remember? Back when Leslie Nielsen was still funny? They're probably showing it on TBS sometime this week.

But really, the stewardess… er, "flight attendant," passed by with the food cart and asked me, "Carne o pesce?" I had this miniature freakout as I tried to reboot in Italian mode and – even though I knew what she was asking – I blurted out, "Cane," or "dog." The stewardess recognized my confusion and asked again, "Meat or fish," la lingua della mia mamma, and I'm like ninety to ninety-five percent sure I got the answer right this time. But I still somehow wound up with the pasta.

Johnny, have you ever been inside a Turkish prison?

Okay, I'm done.