It’s nearly summer.  Which means traveling.  Which means flying.  Which means misery.

Get ready.

I had just taken my seat on the return flight from a recent trip when I began to reflect back on the originating  flight. The trip to Dallas had begun with promise. After I had settled into my window seat and dutifully strapped on my seatbelt, I saw a gorgeous woman making her way down the aisle. Most of the seats around me had been filled except for the other two on my row. As the woman, who was about my age, came closer, I began to bargain with God.

“Okay Lord, just this once, let me be lucky. I’ve flown millions of miles and not one time, EVER, have I had anyone so good looking sit by me. How about today?”

The lady paused, glanced at some seating numbers and continued walking in my direction.

“Yes! Just a little closer. Look to your left. You’re in 31E”.

She stopped next to me. I held my breath.

“Sir. I’ve misplaced my glasses. Is this row 21?” The Texas accent was unmistakable.

Nobility overruled my first reaction which was to lie.

“No ma’am. Row 21 is ten rows back toward the front”

She flashed the prettiest smile. ” Thank you so much”, she drawled as she headed back down the aisle.

Dadgum the luck. Ah well. C’est la vie.

Oh no!

Next down the aisle came a woman at least 150 years old. Blue hair. Red rouge on one cheek, the other inexplicably unpainted. Lipstick even redder than the rouge.

And perfume so overpowering I first whiffed it from four rows away.

“Please Lord, let her pass on by.”

No such luck. 31D. Only one seat between us. Eighteen inches between me and suffocation.

Okay, it’s a short flight. Not to worry. If I only breathed once every five heartbeats I’d survive the fumes. The plane was full except for the seat next to me. The crew was preparing to close the doors. At least I’d have a little extra room.


Through the doors came the one obligatory late passenger.

” Please, no!”

I’m big but this guy made me look like a Calvin Klein model. Four-hundred pounds easy.

I desperately glanced around to see if I’d overlooked any other empty seats. Nope. Just good old 31E.

The gentleman had to walk sideways down the aisle and still violated the sensibilities of every passenger in an end seat.

After what seemed like two eternities he was standing next to my row with a sympathetic smile on his face, even bigger up close.

“There is no way on God’s green earth…wait…my Discman!”

I snatched it out of his seat just before it was crushed to dust.

The next second I found myself plastered against the window with no hope of escape for the next two hours and eighteen minutes.

Could this flight get any worse? Oh yeah.

My new gargantuan seatmate, who required two seatbelt extenders, was at least polite. He apologized every time he burped. All the evidence pointed to garlic salami.

This had to be considered cruel and unusual.

They should use this as an interrogation technique at Guantanamo Bay.

“Yes! I’ll tell you where bin Laden is! Just don’t belch on me anymore!”

I managed to wriggle one arm free and grabbed an air sickness bag, just in case.

Just as I thought the flight could get no worse the two kids in the seats directly in front of me began their act. Ramming the seat back onto my knees. Slamming their window screen up and down every thirty seconds. Screaming at each other. All to the apparent oblivion of their mother.

Fifty minutes after takeoff a flight attendant managed to get my attention.

“Is there anything you need sir?”

“Yes please. I need you to lock those two aggravating nematodes in the bathroom for the rest of the flight and send their mother to parenting school. Then tell the lady on the outside of my row that a few dabs of the three dollar perfume will suffice, a gallon is too much. And provide Jumbo here with a couple of dozen breath mints. That’s all I need”.

Actually I didn’t say that. I didn’t say anything because I could barely breathe so I just smiled weakly.

That had been a week earlier. I was roused from my reflections of the flight from Hades by the sight of someone moving toward me.

Lo and behold. It was the very same farsighted gorgeous woman from the first flight.

Hope springs eternal.

“Hey Lord, it’s me again. Remember last week?”

Don Lively

Don Lively

Don Lively is a retired police officer and freelance writer. He lives in Shell Bluff, Georgia.

One Comment
  1. Oh, how funny. Hopefully you can laugh AFTER the fact. Heck, you got a great story out of it.

    This reminds me of a memorable flight I once had, sandwiched between a woman who really desired two seats to herself and a very American-looking woman in Muslim dress who proceeded to kneel in her seat for prayer time as we took off. Surreal at best. But it’s these experiences that make us appreciate our wonderfully pleasant lives overall, don’t you think?

    However I was taught years ago how to gain an empty seat next to you. As you sit down, search your seat pocket for an airsick bag. Then reach into the pocket of your seatmate searching for theirs, explaining “Excuse me. So sorry. One bag is never enough.”

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