Travel by airplane“Why Pope Benedict retire? Isn’t that atypical?” I asked the priest in line next to me at the airline check-in counter after shooting the shit about football and taxes.

“Well, he was older. You know, he just wanted to lay around in his pajamas all day and drink wine with his friends,” he replied.

“Oh, so in other words, ‘be Pope’?”

“I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”

“Never mind, sir, you were here first; go ahead.”

Yes, I said, “Sir.”I haven’t called a man “Father” since they stopped showing up for my T-ball games.

The security line is jammed up by some idiot that didn’t know you couldn’t bring the Wile E. Coyote ACME kit in a carry-on, so I opened up some outdated celebrity magazine garbage I grabbed on the way out of my house because misery enjoys company.

“Jenna Jameson Endorses Mitt Romney for President,” read the headline. Maybe she just heard a Mitt Romney presidency would be hard to swallow so she took it as a personal challenge.

Approaching the baggage checkpoint, the warning signs nobody pays attention to started to come into focus. A skull and crossbones with syringes surrounding it. Am I supposed to remove hazardous materials, or do I need to be watching out for drug-peddling pirates?

At the gate, I like to play a game sometimes to pass the time. I use my imagination and pretend that everyone around me is actually a sweaty a-hole sitting too close because I don’t have an imagination. At least I’m boarding.

A symphony of coughing and seat belts lulls me into a half-daze, until the attendant is forced to repeatedly remind people, “Please take your seats and turn off electronic devices” over the intercom. Which apparently translates directly into, “Get up, walk around, and turn on your iPhones.” The guy in front of me must have forgotten that every inch he leans back in his seat takes two inches of leg room away from me. When I try to put my head back on the headrest, my long neck bends over the top like a Pez dispenser, but instead of delicious candies, I’m dispensing nothing but unbridled rage at the toddler next to me. Just mind your business, man.

I don’t want to say that I hate someone just because it’s a baby on a plane, but I am. As I sit in my seat mourning the loss of my appreciation for the miracle of human flight, I think to myself: “They didn’t want 72 virgins to have sex with; they wanted 72 virgins because that’s 72 fewer kids screaming on the damned flight.”

About the Author

Jeff Gassen lives in Nebraska. To get there from say, L.A., you start driving East, then farther East, then farther East until you drive into the Atlantic Ocean because you don’t want to go to Nebraska. He recently returned from living and working in China where he was granted a unique perspective on what happens when you assume you’ll be given a unique perspective just for showing up. He has comedy articles sprinkled around the internet; they’re generally sufferable. You can follow Jeff’s column at PointsinCase.

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