All I wanted was to make it home unscathed.
I’d been humbled all week long– slapped, pinched, tweaked and noogied– by an endless parade of grouchy clients. And what I looked forward to now was to slip into my best flannel jammies, crawl into the sack, commandeer the remote control… and run a pair of white Fruit-of-the-Looms up the bedpost in a gesture of total and unconditional surrender.
I’m a simple man with simple needs, and I simply needed this airplane to take me home. I didn’t need to do battle with the man in seat 23A—Mr. Bud J. McIntyre.
Bud J. McIntyre was a tall drink of muddy Mississippi river water out of Quincy, Illinois, and he sold sheet metal or sheet music or something, and he was determined that I become schooled in the nuances of his tortured career.
In that there was no middle seat between us to serve as a buffer, I put on the friendliest face I could muster on a Friday evening 850 miles from home and did my best to appear attentive.
But, between the saga of his loyal service at Pickney Excavation and Grading (Pickney: Lowering your horizons since 1969!) and his untimely departure from Bandoo Fiberglass (“Those bastards!” ) I could hardly keep my eyes open.
I’d volunteer the occasional No kidding! or Imagine that! which got us through taxi and takeoff and on our way to our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, but I was fading fast … and through a sort of low-wattage auditory fog I seem to recall him downshifting from the ins-and-outs of sheet metal into the predicament of his daughter or niece– Pinky or Babs— a girl down on her luck, pregnant, perhaps, by way of a clumsy second-story man who was currently serving three-to-five in Joliet!
But, by that time, I’d experienced a sort of pan-nodular synapse deep within my cerebral cortex, a gentle bathing, as it were, of the anterior ganglia in some kind of primordial sleep sauce… which nudged a psychoneurologic gateway, zapped a pulse to my vocalis apparendi and made me blurt, “Mommy, can I have a pony?”
And, from there, for me, my friends, it was if a magic carpet had arrived to whisk me away to dreamland.
Well, the next thing I knew, I was waking from a deep slumber… and, this isn’t pretty, but I sleep with my pie hole wide open– a classic mouth-breather, the dentist tells me– and… well, I’ve been rumored to pass a little gas here and there– and I began to surmise that I’d nodded off and snoozed on Big Mac’s shoulder, mouth breathing into his ear and ripping an array of close-quarter colon coughs into his wheelhouse across the Midwest!
And, judging by the fire in his eyes– and the Vicks Vaporub under his nose– he was none too pleased.
The flight attendant brought the supper I’d slept through, and Bud says, “I’ll take that right here!” And so he takes my supper– even though he’d already eaten— and proceeds to devour it right there in front of me! And I watch incredulously as my Salisbury steak, green bean almandine and instant mash potatoes disappear into his big, Midwestern corn-fed gullet.
He’s gnawing my croutons!
Hey, I’m not one to raise a ruckus, and, seeing that we were almost home anyhow, I decided to forfeit the meal uncontested, to turn the other cheek, as it were. Doesn’t the Good Book counsel sharing and caring?
Well, Bud whipped-out a toothpick from the pocket of the XXXL shirt that covered his big, gnarly Midwestern hide and began to dig contentedly between his out-sized yellow zoobies in a manner which conveyed complete satisfaction with his —my!— supper… and, well, with closing out the week, all scores settled.
Mind you, I’m a congenial and forgiving man, and, in hopes of establishing common ground, I turned to the ‘ol Macaroon and said:
“So, Carl, where ya from and whatcha’ do?”
Well, they finally pried him off me… and they tell me I’ll be feeling better once the neck brace is removed. There’ll be no litigation from this end, rest assured, what with my having inconvenienced ol’ Mack-‘n-Sack for a good part of the flight.
In fact, I was hoping bygones would further beget bygones… and we might become fast friends, airline amigos… and that I might even receive an invitation to Pinky’s wedding. But, as of this writing, not a card, not a letter– not a word from Bud J.
Some people, huh?