Thoughts on a Plane: Proposed Social Contract for Air Travel

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As Queen, I would like the world to adopt a social contract for air travel.  I hereby propose the following tenets for the contract.

1.  Move through check-in, security, and the Starbuck’s line as quickly as possible.  Move with purpose, people!

To be perfectly clear, this tenet instructs you to remove your shoes, take your laptop out of your ginormous “carryon” (If you fit in your carryon, it’s not a carryon!), empty your pockets, and take off your jacket in the security line before your turn at the conveyor belt.  Know the airline rules for checked and unchecked bags in order to avoid hissy fits (which take time) at check-in, and, for God’s sake, decide which complicated latte you would like from Starbucks before standing in front of the register displaying to the whole world that you are, in fact, a mouth-breather.

2.  Follow common sense when boarding.  If you are the last zone to board, keep the path to the gate clear for other passengers.  Know which seat you are assigned before stepping on the plane.  And, if you board last, simply shove your carryon under the seat in front of you rather than opening all the overhead bins in search of space.  Miracles don’t happen in the overhead bins, people.  Trust me, if you are last, the bins are all full.  (See #1 about doing things quickly!)

Case in point from my most recent air travel experience:

“Are the seats assigned or do I have to choose?” asked the last passenger to board my full flight from South Carolina to Charlotte, North Carolina (en route to New Jersey) last week.

The passenger seated next to me showed the idiot woman where to look for her seat assignment on her boarding pass.  Considering only one seat on the entire plane was available, I think a faster solution would have been to tell the moron to sit in the one open seat, which was also right next to where she was standing.

“God, please don’t let this plane crash,” I prayed silently.  “I don’t want to die surrounded by such stupid people.”

At this point I looked up to see the tattooed and milky white belly of the stupid woman.  She was looking for a place to put her carryon and began to panic unaware, I hope, that her fish-belly white stomach was inches from my face.

“All of these are full!” she screeched, “what am I supposed to do?”

The kind passenger offered, “You can place it under the seat in front of you.”

“On the floor?”  More screeching, more panicking, more desire to kick her burning inside of me.

After whining to the flight attendant, “Why can’t someone move their stuff so I don’t have to put my purse on the floor?” the idiot finally sat down and placed her bag under the seat in front of her.

Seriously, was this her first time on a plane?  This contract is obviously necessary!

3.  Do everything the flight attendants and pilots tell you to do, no matter if their instructions seem silly.  You are not that special.  The rules do apply to you!

A few minutes after takeoff on this same flight, the pilot announced that due to rough turbulence, everyone was to remain seated for the duration of the 20-minute flight.  Just in case someone in the tiny plane didn’t hear the booming message, the flight attendant then got on the loud speaker to repeat the pilot’s message.  Immediately following the second-verse-same-as-the-first announcement, the woman across the aisle from me stands up and starts to walk to the back of the plane.  (I apparently was seated in the dumbass section.)

“Ma’am,” says the attendant over the loud speaker, “Please sit down.”

“Oh, I just need to use the Lady’s Room real quick,” the woman responded.

After a few tense moments between the attendant and idiot #2 via loudspeaker, the woman decided she could wait until Charlotte.  In my mind, I could see the headline:  Flight Makes Emergency Landing Because Woman Couldn’t Hold It!

3.  Unless you are on a flight to Vegas, library noise rules apply.  Use your inside-voice when speaking is absolutely necessary, and always, always use headphones.

This tenet would help me resist the urge to kick the seat of the man in front of me who chatted loudly to the woman next to him for the duration of my flight from Charlotte to Newark.  If implemented, I would also not have had to hear a man yell into his blue tooth device from the waiting area, all the way down the ramp, and to the back of the plane that, “My wife sucks!  She’s evil and she sucks!”  I know with the blue tooth that you appear to be in your own little world, but you are not.  You are in a shared space.  We don’t want to share your divorce drama.

4.  And finally, when the plane lands, as soon as the fasten seatbelt light goes off, get your ass off the plane as quickly as possible.  It’s hot, the woman next to me smells, and the man in front of me is still talking!

This seems to be a simple enough contract to follow.  I would like it implemented immediately.  If you would like any additions or omissions made, feel free to propose changes in the comment section below.

Happy traveling!


Pretty Girl in the Room

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Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.  So, in the spirit of growth and healing, I will admit that I want to be the pretty girl in the room.  I need to be the pretty girl in the room and not just any room, but every room.  I am afraid that my obsession with any product or tool that promises to erase all flaws and send me dewy-complexioned back to the age of 19 has reached critical mass.  An intervention may be necessary.

My extreme desire to pickle and even enhance my appearance is evident if you look in my master bathroom.  Every possible inch of storage space is occupied.  The middle drawer of the double sink vanity is filled with makeup sponges, Q-Tips, and moisturizer creams.  Whitening toothpaste, hair ties, facial scrubs, hand cream, two anti-aging lotions, under-eye cream, and more moisturizers sit on the vanity.  Apparently, I am preparing for a Dust Bowl style drought to occur in my bathroom and on my face.  Under the sink, three shoeboxes of various half-used makeup products lay in wait for their second shot at glory.  If only I could figure out how to apply the stuff, I could transform into a Kardashian, before Kanye West forced Kim to look more natural, of course.  Who needs natural?  I want perfection!

To the left of the vanity is a separate cabinet.  A set of hot rollers, two curling irons, a flat iron, a lighted magnifying mirror, and an 1800 volt hair dryer litter the top of the cabinet.  (I either really need my own power grid, or Al Gore should explain global warming to me personally, as I am clearly playing fast and loose with my electric bill.)  The first shelf of the cabinet is filled with talc, anti static fabric spray, body sprays, nail polish, nail polish removers, face masks, fabric fresheners, and more lotions and creams.  Good, Lord, exactly how dry is my skin?

The second shelf contains a basket full of the makeup I actually wear on a daily basis along with makeup brushes, pencil sharpeners, tweezers, lash curlers, and tiny scissors, just in case I need to cut something tiny.  I’m not sure what that tiny object might be, but I must have the tiny scissors in case of a tiny emergency.

Next to the basket of daily makeup and tools, is a basket of hair products:  hair spray, root lifter, straightening spray, anti-frizz cream, styling mouse, styling gel, curl boosting mouse, and curl defining cream. I do not have curly hair.  I have curly hopes and dreams.  So, the curling products are completely useless, but I keep them.

Lastly, the bottom shelf is filled with every beauty-concious Doomsday Prepper’s dream:  big, multi-compartment traveling cases, tiny lipstick cases, quilted bags, and stain proof, vinyl cosmetic bags, all waiting to be filled and thrown in a suitcase or tote bag in case I have to bug out.

Now, you may be forming some pretty accurate criticisms to send in my direction, but slow your roll for a minute.  I recently learned that Allure magazine tests over 2,500 new beauty products each year in order to give out their coveted Allure Beauty Awards.  This means that I am far from alone in vanity boat.  I have many women, and probably some men, too, riding along with me in search of the skin, hair, and body of our youth.

So, after careful consideration regarding the contents of my master bathroom, I have come to the following conclusions:

  1. I put way too much pressure on my 37-year-old self to look 19
  2. I do not and will never again look 19, so I must find a way to accept this truth and be happy with the face, body and hair I have now
  3. A fool and her money are easily parted, especially if standing in front of the empty promises in a cosmetic counter or CVS beauty aisle
  4. Sephora and Ulta are the two most dangerous stores for me to enter with any method of payment available
  5. I seriously need to clean out my bathroom
  6. And, finally, I should seek fulfillment in more substantial areas of my life rather than focus on the size of my pores, daily additions of new fine lines, my inability to create the perfect smoky eye, and the fact that no matter what I put in my hair, three hours into my day it will part down the middle and fall flat, beckoning the other drowned rats of the world, “Follow me!  I am your leader!”

Yes, indeed.  I should focus on the more substantial areas of my life:  family, career, being a good and decent person.  I’ll get right on that, right after I tweeze my eyebrows…


Backhanded Compliments: the Verbal Sucker Punch

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A couple of months ago, my sister Kellie sat in the foyer of a professional photographer prepared to shell out her hard earned cash on a portrait package of her daughter decked out for her first dance recital.  As Kellie sat admiring the pictures of her daughter, the sales assistant looked over her shoulder at the picture and said, “Your daughter is beautiful.  She must look like her father because she looks nothing like you.”  Ouch.

Now, in this case, both mother and daughter are beautiful and favor each other, proving that the sales associate must be a moron, but exactly how was my sister supposed to take that comment?  Was she supposed to thank the idiot assistant for the twisted compliment without pointing out how rudely it could be interpreted?  Maybe Kellie should have offered up, “Thank you, she is Daddy’s little girl,” and left it at that.  Or maybe Kellie should have kicked the moron in the throat.

A few days after Kellie’s irritating encounter with the idiot assistant, I portrayed the role of Marguerite in a hometown production of Dearly Departed.  The character, a hateful woman 30 years my senior, constantly berates her family and uses her religion and memorized Bible verses as weapons.  After one of the performances, an audience member congratulated me on a job well done and then said, “But that was probably just your real personality coming out, right?”  Sounds like someone else could use a swift kick in the neck.

All right, calm down.  I know violence is not the answer.  (Even though I challenge anyone who claims to never have been tempted to meet the sole of their shoe with the soft skin of some idiot’s neck.)  So what is?  Allowing for this rude behavior to continue, however fueled by ignorance it may be, doesn’t seem right.  We were all taught how to be nice and “use your words” properly at some point in our childhood.  Why shouldn’t we demand the same behavior of adults that we do of children?

The careless verbal sucker punches got me thinking.  Have we lost our understanding of the English language?  Have we become so desensitized by the anonymity of our online lives of Facebook pokes, text abbreviations, and Twitter comments of 144 characters or less that we can’t appropriately communicate face to face anymore?  And do we actually think every single thought that comes to mind should be expressed?  Maybe we should resurrect what our grandma’s taught us:  say something nice or grandma’s going to shove a sock in your mouth so you can’t say anything at all.  Would we even recognize nice if nice kicked us in the neck?

Hurt and perplexed by the rude audience member, I told Kellie what the woman said.   That was just your real personality coming out, right.  Kellie told me that I should have looked the woman in the eye and in a sinister tone responded, “It could be.”  Well, I think Kellie should have walked out of that photographer’s studio without spending a dime.  Let the idiot assistant explain the loss of business to her boss.  But, unfortunately, when a four-year-old’s dance photos are being held for ransom the price is never too high, be it the dollar amount or the sting of the sucker punch, and I am sure the Little Theatre would frown upon me making some old woman pee her pants in fear.

Instead, I make a plea to all my subjects near and far:  consider the words coming out of your mouths.  One day, our carelessness, our verbal sucker punches, could get us all kicked in the throat.