May 2012: He flies through the air with the greatest unease

I don’t like to travel.

I do, however, enjoy seeing new places. Or seeing old places that I’m fond of. Or seeing old places that I have not seen in so long that they just may as well be new again anyway. What I don’t enjoy is the processes involved that are required to get me from point A to point B, especially when those points are further than one hour apart and one or less is my home.

Leaving home is not easy for me; all my things are here. I know where they are. I know what they do. And when I have a need for them … I don’t have to go searching or regret not being near them because I know where they are and what they do. When I spend a period of time greater than one or two days in an area greater than one hour away from my home, I know that invariably I will need one or more of those things that I know where they are and what they do, in my home, when I am not in my home.

Hence, when I prepare to travel, I try to foresee the most possible situations that may occur and what of my things will be needed, so that I can pack them to go with me. The longer and farther I am traveling, the more situations I picture occurring, and the more things, therefore, do I pack. Usually, 50% of my luggage, at least, is taken up with the things that I feel I simply cannot leave at home. And of those things, at least 75% is never needed on my trip. I don’t feel like doing the math, but really it comes down to many of the items that I pack with me for a trip never, ever leave my suitcase except to be set to the side and forgotten about when I leave to return home.

Because, invariably, they’re not what I turn out to need, after all.

If I pack a flat head screwdriver, I’ll need a phillips. If I pack both, I’ll need a butter knife. I hesitate to ever pack all three, because I know as soon as I do I’m going to find myself in a situation where I need vice-grips, kitty litter, Amazing Fantasy #15 and a waffle iron. And I’m fairly certain that waffle irons are banned by the TSA.

That’s the worst part of traveling, for me. Airplanes. I don’t like them. I don’t like all the people. I don’t like how cramped they are, and how uncomfortable they are, and how they smell like sweat and coffee and unchanged diapers and tin foil. I don’t like how my seat never seems to recline nearly as far as the person in front of me is able to put theirs back. I don’t like how often I have to get up because I’m seated in a row with someone who actually has a smaller bladder than I do. I don’t like how I hit my head on things in the plane or how I have to turn sidewise to go down the aisle to my seat or all the people. I said that, I know, but I really don’t like all the people. Especially because I know there is one thing that they’re worried about more than I am.


Boarding a plane, I always hope that the seat next to me will be empty. Mainly because, while I’m not telepathic (I keep trying to read people’s minds … but there’s just nothing there!) it’s not hard to hear all the people around me thinking “Dear god … please don’t let my seat be next to his!”

I’ve never been a small man; I’m fairly certain I sprang from my mother’s womb fully grown and completely crotchety. And I just keep getting bigger the older I get. I keep looking for an exercise class just for people like me – fat guy aerobics. I imagine we’ll all sit in a circle on inflatable workout balls, taking bets on whose will burst first. The winner gets a pound cake, and the exercise occurs when the losers chase him down and try and take it from him.

Luckily, my paunch has not yet increased to the point where I overflow into the seat next to me, but there’s only so far I can pull in my knees and my shoulders. And the more cramped the space is, the larger I seem to become. So sorry, fellow plane passengers, there’s really nothing I can do about it. I try to be a courteous passenger.

(The only person I have ever seen pleased to sit next to me was a woman easily in her 90s who weighed roughly the same as my left thigh. As I approached my seat, she was struggling to open a small pack of crackers, and her face just lit up when I sat down beside her. She didn’t say a word, just handed them to me to open for her.)

(No man will ever refuse to open something for a little old lady. If you find one who does, let me know, and we will have words. Manly words.)

I am fully aware of just how much space I am allocated in a plane, and constantly do everything I can to not pass the boundaries of my seating area. There are country borders less contentious and fought over than an airplane armrest. But I don’t want to touch you any more than you want to touch me. At least, I hope so. I find the alternative … disturbing.

I prefer sleeping when traveling, because then it seems to go faster, and the faster I travel, the sooner I can reach my destination and discover all those things I forgot to bring with me. But I find it nigh-impossible to sleep on a plane, because a comfortable position always seems to be just one inch out of my reach, or it’s in someone else’s seating area just slightly, or someone needs their crackers open. This usually occurs right after I’ve finally managed to fitfully nod off. Luckily, flying also tends to dehydrate me, so my usual tendency to drool is curbed.

Sadly, for all the travails that travel entails, it’s something that needs to be done on a fairly regular basis. So, here’s a promise: I’ll do my best not to encroach into my fellow traveler’s seat space, be it by monitoring how wide I spread my knees or by passing on the pound cake, and I’ll gladly wrestle open your snack packs when you can’t. But in return …

Pee before you get on the plane, okay?

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