Before I get started, let me just say that when you’re in a tube devoid of fresh air and ventilation at 35,000 feet, with a nose that rivals only a bloodhound or a pregnant woman, Bubble Yum is one of the most wretched scents in the world.
Not that I’d know or anything, Vivian. Yeah, I’m talking to you.
To be fair to the airline, the flight itself wasn’t actually that terrible. The flight attendants were nice, the captain didn’t crash or get us killed, and at no point did I have to discover whether those little oxygen masks actually have oxygen in them or not, even though they may not inflate. I even had a window seat, which at the time was my absolute favorite thing (it was a combination of boredom and motion sickness that led me to want the window, despite there not being a whole lot to look at during most of the flight. I’ve since changed my mind and determined the aisle seat in the first three rows, opposite the door side, are actually the best because you can get off that plane right quick.)
The problem with the flight actually occurred before I even stepped on the plane, eating a quick dinner with my mother in a restaurant of the John Wayne airport, which has since gone out of business for what I can only imagine are obvious reasons. I ordered a blue cheese burger, and at the time it was really rad. It was good enough, in fact, that I determined I needed to take the rest with me on the plane to finish there. But I was tired, and there are some instances in which tired trumps beef, cheese, and bread (they’re rare, trust me), so I decided to slip into a quick airplane nap, though not before turning to my mother and saying “I want cranberry juice.” About a half hour later I awoke to, not surprisingly, cranberry juice on my pull-down tray, and I took one sip and suddenly realized I was going to be remarkably ill. And instantaneously.
Here’s the thing. I don’t do sick people things in front of strangers, and I especially don’t do them on airplanes, so the wait for one of the rear lavatories to become available was a particularly terrible one, during which I began to sweat profusely and probably freak the passengers sitting in the back of the plane out something fierce. You can indicate with hand gestures that you don’t intend on puking on them, but that generally doesn’t really appease them much.
I won’t go into detail about this foray into food poisoning at 35,000 feet, but I will say the airplane lav is even smaller than you think when you’re using it like a normal person and not on your knees, I made about four visits to it during that not very long flight, I upset a few women in the PDX airport restroom outside the baggage claim, I made my dad feel sick on the way home, and I woke up a couple times that night just to finish what was only the worst evening I’d had in a very long time. It took me a couple of years before I could eat beef again.
The only thing I might fault the airline for was not letting me stay in the lav for the remainder of the flight after making it abundantly clear that one trip wasn’t going to be enough (particularly since there was a second one for people to use, so it’s not like my being there kept them from peeing or anything, and anyways, who wants to use a tiny bathroom after someone doing what I was doing? No one, that’s who. But despite all that logic, the flight attendant kept rapping on the door, telling me I had to get out.
We’re not friends, she and I.