Flying Over I-40 N. With the World By the A**.

AA Flight 1150: DFW to LGA.  It’s 5:29 a.m., and I’m standing at the gate waiting to board the first flight out of Dallas. I’m watching the waitlist monitor, KAN.D is on page 2. Wow.  An upgrade to First, for a 6 a.m. boarding, will not happen.

Then confirmed.

“Sorry Sir, the upgrade list is closed.” 14th on the wait list. 14th! A Lifetime Platinum Member…means…Nothing.  I drag my carry-on on board, passing all the smug passengers in first class and take my seat.

The video monitor on the seat in front rotates through flight details:

  • 2 hr 59 min to destination
  • Estimated Arrival Time LGA: 10:35 a.m.
  • Altitude: 28,982.9 (and turbulent)

The GQ interview with Brad Pitt is still fresh…he recalls a conversation with Ryan McGinley…”When you get to be my age, never pass up a bathroom. Never trust a fart…”  And let’s leave the rest to your imagination.

Now that, triggered movement

I cautiously step down the aisle. The ship heaves left and right, a paper airplane battered like a piñata. If He really wanted to lean in here, we’d be dust. There’s something about flying that brings the immediacy of mortality to the forefront, not to the front to First Class of course, but to the front like in Coach.

If you possess a single cell of claustrophobia, you don’t want to be in the lavatory of an Airbus A321S in heavy turbulence.  One hand grips the cool stainless steel hand rail for stability.  The other hand rests on the lap, careful not to touch anything. The floor is wet, the soles of the shoes groan. The midsection is contorted to ensure no body part or article of clothing touches anything, and if I could have levitated above the seat without inflicting a groin pull, I would have done so.  How many before me, sitting here? (Butt) Skin to skin to skin to skin to skin.  I wash my hands, and take one look around this coffin. God, when it’s time, let it be in a grassy field, on a warm sunny day, laying among four-leaf clovers and poppies, and looking up at the bluest of blue skies. The closet closes in. Get me out of here.

I’m back at my seat writing this post real time.  My seatmate (middle seat) has taken the liberty of occupying both armrests and then some.  Her right elbow nudges me with each air pocket, right there in the side jelly area of the belly. More than mildly irritating. She has no magazines, no books (hard cover or e-reader) and she pretends to look straight ahead.  I catch her sideway glances at my screen, but I’m sympathetic.  The temptation of watching the next Hemingway peck out his sure-to-be classic is irresistible. How can one blame the woman? She’s swept away by a force beyond her control.

Thoughts drift back to Monday morning. A smooth flight from NYC to Dallas arrives 33 min early.

The sun’s up and beaming through the floor to ceiling windows. It warms the giant, hulking AA 737s waiting at jet bridges that surround the terminal.

The app flashes 78° F and rising. Foot traffic to baggage claim is light.  My first meeting isn’t for four hours, the inbox was cleared to zero in flight, and the moment is described by a semi-lucid former client from a former life who said: “Dave, I’ve got the world by the A**.”

I’m one hundred feet from the exit to baggage claim and my pocket vibrates.  Phone Call.

Caller ID flashes the name of my Doctor, and the ID indicator rolls around to his address: “H-o-s-p-i-t-a-l.”

Whatever bliss existed seconds ago, is gone.

I slow my pace. I veer left out of traffic, and stare at his name, the digital letters aglow.  The phone continues to vibrate in my hand.  I lean against the wall of the terminal, and inhale.

“Good Morning” is the voice from the other end.

She waits for a response.

“I’m calling on the lab tests.”

Silence.

“Sir, are you there?”

The air is still. The terminal is silent, it’s as if a large hand hit the mute button but for the puffs of my breath and the lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub of the heart.

I can’t get a word out.

“Sir?”

“hi”

“I’m not sure if you heard me.  I’m calling on the lab tests.”

“Sorry, I’m here. Yes.”

She finishes up, and I gently slide the phone into my pocket.

I walk out of the terminal, find my ride, and jump into the car.

“How are you doing today?  Did you have a good flight?”

“How am I doing?  Couldn’t be better, thank you.  Couldn’t be better.”

I close my eyes and there he is. Ray. 34 years ago. His wide toothy grin lights up my office.

“How are you Ray?”

Dave, I couldn’t be better. Couldn’t be better. I have the World by the A**.


Notes:

Comments

  1. I was at LaGuardia today from 10 to 12, AA, C & D.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really good…enjoy your writing. Just did a blood draw today…always wonder about that phone call.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. you survived the coffin bathroom, a seat in coach, a turbulent flight and good news from your doc, i say it was a powerfully good day overall

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Christie says:

    “The temptation of watching the next Hemingway peck out his sure-to-be classic is irresistible. How can one blame the woman? She’s swept away by a force beyond her control.” Love that DK quote…///Glad your test results were good…/// I took my daughter back to the lab, yesterday…she was also there on Friday they called and said oops we didn’t have the complete order so come back Monday, that didn’t happen so yesterday was the day…they kept her an hour, again…what they are testing for is life altering…the possibility of difficult news is high, given the symptoms…we been down this similar road before and will not borrow trouble…the call should come tomorrow…and her journey moves forward…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some days we got the world by it’s A.. Other days, we are grateful we can still type out a story and know we are gonna live another day. Good news on your test results! All that flying must be tiring, so rest up Mr K. 😬

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Whew on many levels. Glad you got this writIng in. I appreciate it 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My favorite posts are the ones you pen…even if it includes bathroom imagery and Brad Pitt farting. I’ll take it. And when the test results are good – ah, that’s flying above the ether..

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Glad to hear you’ll be with us a while longer. 😀
    Great writing, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another fabulous piece of writing, Ernest. 🙂 Very glad that your test results came out alright, but why tempt the Fates, pal? Why not start going a little easier on yourself, ratcheting it down a couple of notches? Seems to me like you’ve earned it…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “Never trust a fart.” Sooo many ways this is a code to live by.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I can’t shake the image of the woman occupying both armrests. That’s so selfish. It’s a small thing but it says a lot. Glad you ended up having a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Like Hemingway said “Just step onto the airplane and bleed”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m sending healing hugs for good news on tests. Been doing that kind of stuff myself lately and the waiting is always the hardest – well, the tests aren’t fun either though! Hope you stay healthy, happy and safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved ALL of this. And so grateful for your news.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. We have to be jolted out of the upgrade heaven at times, David. But, in a way, you had already received your upgrade from the universe after the outbound flight. Great writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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