Saturday, October 1, 2011

Please, Take Your Seat.

Buzz about the Pan Am-era aside, I’ve never understood the excitement of air travel. If there’s glitz to be found, it must be in the other terminal. The one I’m not flying in or out of. I’ve been on airplanes for as long as I can remember, racing the sun as it sets on the horizon. 

As a child a rattling DC3 – more tin can than twin engine – was the only way in or out of our little town. While other kids learned how to navigate bus routes and subway stations, I learned the most efficient way to maneuver through airports in various cities and towns, what to pack and what to carry. As an adult, I refined the art. I once flew to Washington, D.C. to sit through a meeting before flying to New Jersey for a presentation and then back to Arizona for an important event. In 24 hours.

For me, a plane doesn’t mean exotic places and breathtaking landscapes. It is simply a means to an end. There is, however, one thing that never disappoints. The boarding process.

It’s like playing Roulette – you never know what you’re going to get when you spin the wheel.  

In five minutes, this airplane is supposed to taxi down the runway and lift me up and away for nine days. But while everyone is seated, the woman directly in front of me has yet to park her disheveled rump. I’m secretly hoping the flight attendant will man up but watching her blatantly ignore him, I am resigned to the fact that we simply aren’t leaving the tarmac anytime soon.

“Lafayette? I have your duty-free merchandise.”

“I’m not Lafayette. I’m Rucher.”

“Ma’am, do you have a seat on this airplane?”

“I do, but it is at the back of the plane and they just boarded.”

“That doesn’t matter. You have a seat assignment and so do they. And you are in theirs. I have to ask you to move to your seat immediately so that you don’t delay our departure any longer.”

I’m headed to France not because it was my first choice, but because the girlfriend I arm twisted into going with me wanted Italy and I wanted Scotland and neither of us wanted England. But, the more I Googled the more I ogled. Ancient abbeys, opulent castles and towering cathedrals. Bucolic countryside and gardens bursting with color. Crepes, cheeses, wines and breads. A history so deep you could spend a lifetime swimming in it. Landscapes both pastoral and powerful. Looking up to see who "they" are, I can’t help but smile. The guidebooks were right.

French architecture is spectacular.

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