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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Flying the Unfriendly Skies

I’ve been pulled out of town this weekend. The details of where and when and for what aren’t necessary here; the relevant points are simply these:

On Tuesday night, I found out I’d be away for the weekend.

On Thursday afternoon, I caught a cab to the airport.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll fly back home.

I’ve been reminded, once again, why I make a lousy travelling companion

Luckily — for my wife, at least — I’m travelling solo this trip. Normally she flies with me, and generally does her best not to choke me with a bag of airline peanuts by the time our first flight leaves the ground. So far, she’s kept the murderous raging under control.

(She did once try to smother me with one of those airplane pillows. But really, as small as those things are, what chance did she have? I could have inhaled the thing and passed it hours later, without even noticing. Honestly, the overpriced earplugs you can buy at the airport drug stores are bigger than that. So I could tell her heart wasn’t really in it.)

“You want me to ‘be nice’, you get your ass out there and invent a teleporter, so I don’t have to share an armrest with Andre the Giant over here, while scarfing down month-old pretzels and trying desperately to not have a discussion about his lumbago treatments.”

I couldn’t really blame her for bonking me on the head and stuffing me in the overhead bin, though. I’m miserable to fly with; it’s true. There’s just something about being out of the comfort of my own house — and in a stale, fetid airport for three hours past the estimated takeoff, then wedged into an airplane seat between an offensive lineman and some greasy schlub from the ‘Professional Eaters Tour’ for a four-hour flight, while my ass sweat mingles with the juice of the thousand swampy asses that have sat before it — that gets me just a tad cranky. And Flying Spaghetti Monster help you if we’re flying together before noon. That’s a whole ‘nother ball of pissy wax you do not want to explore.

So, most of my travel time is spent trying to look as positively unpleasant and unapproachable as possible. My wife understands this, and generally leaves me to my sullen, sweaty-assed self. And if not — well, she does know where I keep my genitals while I’m asleep, so I have to at least be civil to her, lest I wake up singing alto some morning, in revenge for snapping at her during pre-flight check-in.

Other people on my flight, though — as well as all the other flights in the same terminal — can kiss my ass and call it cocoa. I’m not married to them, I’m not sleeping with them, and I sure as hell don’t owe them money, so there’s no reason for any of those people to speak to me. They’re only risking merciless bitching and bodily harm by engaging my attention; why on earth would anyone go there?

And yet, sometimes they do. It’s my own fault, I suppose. I try my hardest, I really do — I bury my nose in a book. I frown a lot, and furrow my little eyebrows any time someone gets close.

(In a scolding, disapproving way, of course. Not that cute way that makes those little dimples on my forehead. The other way, definitely. That fetching furrow, I save for the wife.

Well, and you, obviously. ‘Cause I know how you love it.)

Usually, that’s all it takes. My act — riiiiight, ‘act’ — of seeming detached and disinterested drives away any casual observers or would-be conversationalists. It’s the few that are left — oblivious small children, mostly, and unrepentant jabberjaws — that don’t get the hint, and dive right in talking. And there’s always one, on every trip. I must have tattooed ‘Come chat with ME!!!‘ on the back of my head, and forgotten about it. Either that, or they have some sort of ‘asocial radar’, and feel it incumbent upon themselves to pull me out of my self-imposed shell. Chatty fricking bastards.

That’s the only advantage to travelling alone, of course — with the wife safely tucked away at home, I’m free to go way further past the standards of ‘polite society’ to discourage these gabbing goons. Flying with her, I’m barely allowed a dirty look or swift kick to the shins before she’s scolding me to ‘Be nice!‘ Pfffft. Spouse, please. You want me to ‘be nice’, you get your ass out there and invent a teleporter, so I don’t have to share an armrest with Andre the Giant over here, while scarfing down month-old pretzels and trying desperately to not have a discussion about his lumbago treatments. When you’re ready to be part of the solution, honey, then we’ll talk. Until then, keep reading your Cosmo and just pretend I’m being civil, all righty?

So this trip, I’ve been free to use all the weapons at my disposal to shoo the Chatty Cathys and Talky Tommys away. Not making eye contact, answering in guttural grunts if at all, pretending to be deaf and mute — basically anything short of tweaking the offender’s nipples with a staple remover.

(Again, that’s not ‘in a good way’. Just for the record.

Unless they like it rough, I suppose. In which case, they’re probably not talking to me; I look about as likely to be into S&M as I am into D&D. Which is ‘not bloody likely, mate’.

All I really want is for them to stop the Q&A, so I can get some R&R, eat my M&Ms, and go back to thinking about T&A. Is that so much to ask?)

So far, I’m two-for-two. Two flights, including a connection, and the only people I’ve had to talk to were the flight attendants handing out snacks and sodas. That’s my kind of flying experience, folks. But tomorrow, I’ve got three legs on the way home, with substantial layovers between. I’m going to have to get my game face ready, if I want to reach my home sweet home unscathed. I’m going to eat sour lemons for breakfast, ‘forget’ to shave or zip my fly, and pack two staple removers in my carry-on bag, just to be safe. If that doesn’t stop those yap-happy yahoos, then I don’t know what will.

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