By the time that you are reading this, I will have taken two long flights in relatively close proximity: I will have flown back from the West Coast with my family and flown to Paris without them. Being 6’4″, I really hate flying–there is never enough leg room and there is always at least a couple of people that tick me off to the point of not being able to get any sleep.
[A side bar: People, when you are on a plane and you want to get your kiester out of your seat, it is not acceptable to grab a hold of the setback in front of you in order to hoist your carcass up. It just isn’t!. Practice at home if you must, but learn how to get our of your own seat using only your armrests, your thighs, and your glutes–that’s your butt, in case you were wondering.]
Once again I made it into first class thanks to my wife, who flies many more miles than I, but refuses to take any upgrades that come her way. Instead, she insists that I take the much improved flight experience. I protested again, to no avail–I guess that is one of the advantages of being 6’4″ and married to a saint.
As I took my seat, the flight attendant came over and asked me if I would like something to drink–It was only 10:30 in the morning in San Francisco, but I felt like I should have a glass of wine since it was 1:30 in Philly and frankly, it is very hard for me to pass on free booze. I knew the wine was going to be horrible, but then so was the flight and misery loves company.
As I was still contemplating whether to feel guilty or not for ordering wine before noon locally, the guy in front of me ordered a Vodka Gimlet for himself and a glass of Chardonnay with ice for his wife. The flight attendant was a bit taken aback and said “Ice? Do you mean ‘no ice’?” The guy quickly countered that his wife had to have ice in her Chardonnay, or she would not be happy. I was about to add that I would rather have a fly in my Chardonnay but I felt that would be too “ironic”.
(Note to Alaniis Morissette: a fly in your Chardonnay might be unfortunate or even “icky”, but it is no where close to being “ironic”–now if you were a fly exterminator working for wineries and you had succeeded in killing millions of flies and then one landed in your Chardonnay, that might be ironic. But if the Chardonnay was made by one of the wineries you serviced, and a dead fly was poured out of the bottle causing you to have a heart attack and die–that would be ironic.)
The wine came and it was, well, pleasant. No one was more surprised than I (although I did not ask ice-cube woman her opinion). In fact, I even asked to see the bottle: St. Martin Reserve Chardonnay from the Pays d’Oc in Southern France. Not the most complex bottle of Chardonnay that I have ever had, but for the price ($9 retail and “free” in First Class) it was tough to beat.
I sat there with my wine, watching people board the plane, which I think is one of the odder social phenomena: people who would love to be in First Class are paraded by those who are fortunate enough to be there. Both sides awkwardly avoid any sort of eye contact, much more so than if the interaction were between two people from the same “class”. As a First Class passenger am I supposed to take pity on them or ignore them as “Second Class” citizens? As a Coach Class flier am I supposed to envy them or laugh at them for having paid 3-4 times the price I paid for a little more leg room and some really cheap Chardonnay? I find the whole thing rather bizarre.
When the meal order was taken (another perverse practice–“Would you like the crappy chicken or the perhaps crappier ‘vegetarian’ option?”), Ms. On-the-rocks decided to try and change it up a bit and asked if there was any Pinot Grigio—I guess the iced down Chardonnay still had too much flavor for her. Informed that there was nothing more tasteless than the Chard, she ordered another–with double the ice.
I have a habit of chatting up the flight attendants (my wife calls it flirting, but that has yet to be independently confirmed) and when our lovely attendant Amelia came by to take my lunch order, she seemed playfully perplexed when she asked if I were “Mr. Kim”. (My wife’s name is not “Kim” but she felt weird having her real name on my blog. Additionally, Asian is not one thing that anyone would ever confuse me for, but I was technically in my wife’s seat–at least the attendant recognized a gender difference). When I gave her the whole story, she asked if she could have my “real name” and I spelled it out for her—to which she responded “Well, welcome Mr. Cyclist.” I indicated that it was actually “Dr. Cyclist” and that I would love her forever if she called me “Dr.” at least once.
(Ever since receiving my Ph.D., I could count on one hand how many times people have called me “Dr.” and would have several fingers left over to firmly hold my wine glass. It is far from being a big deal with me, but when married to a “real” Doctor it gets a little old seeing letters addressed to “Dr. Kim and Mr. Cyclist” or worse, “Dr. and Mr. Kim.”)
For the rest of the flight, Amelia only referred to me as “Doctor”, and she had ample opportunity as I was sucking down the glasses of St. Martin almost as fast as she could pour them.
Being the dutiful husband, once we landed, I waited for my wife and boys. As we passed by Amelia, she said: “Goodbye Dr. Cyclist” and then paused and added “Goodbye Mrs. Cyclist.” At this, I looked back and smiled as Amelia gave me a wink.
My wife, of course, caught the entire exchange and as we walked down the jetway she reached out…
…and smacked me.