Friday, September 17, 2004

flying barefoot.

I’ve never wanted a flight to end like this one. It all started way back at the gate. There, right in the sweet spot of my peripheral vision – that is, ahead one row, left across the isle -- is a man with his leg crossed under him, foot up on the seat. That wouldn’t really be anything by itself if he had shoes and socks on. But he didn’t (and he still doesn’t). You OK with that? Well, I’m not. And because of his location, it takes a real effort to NOT give in to the morbid reflex of staring in disgust at this man’s foot.

To his credit, he put on a good show, feeling his toes from time to time, cleaning the toenails with his thumbnail, stuff like that. Then he would, of course, channel surf by poking (with a carefree flourish) the touch-screen with the fingers that had just caressed his bare foot.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, he began to scratch his head. I mean, he really worked it. With both hands. I assume there is a scalp disease of some sort motivating this action. It might also be some sort of massage one does while chanting. I don't know, but there it was: scalp-foot-TV-scalp, and sequential variations thereon. Occasionally he would bring his active hand to the area between his upper lip and his nostrils for some reason that I’d rather not think about.

*Oh, joy. We’re making our final approach. We’ve been told to fasten our seatbelts, fix our seats, etc. Pity they didn’t remind us to put on our freaking shoes, isn’t it!?*

In an effort to distract myself from this rank disgust, I read the Journal, listen to country music (Brooks & Dunn’s “When We Were Kings” is a tear jerker), and play music trivia. I’ll probably win the trivia, and when you win, your screen name gets put on the flight’s top ten. I play two rounds, and each for round I choose a screen name (limited to six characters) with a message in mind. My two screen names appear in the top ten as the phrase “bareft dothed.” It was my clever little way of giving voice to my outraged sense of public etiquette which, apparently, is a cultural thing.

Now, with all due respect, I don’t care where this individual is from, a pig is a pig is a pig, no matter what language he’s spoken to in. In fact, if you were to mime the phrase, "happy as a pig in sh*t," this guy's act would be perfect. But you know what, this guy could be your doctor. So make sure Dr. Gupta washes his hands after you page him.

What I witnessed for over two hours against my will (no, there weren’t a great deal of other seats available and by now I was afraid of what other activities I might be sandwiched between if I moved) began to work on my mind. I began to think of what the person who sat in my seat before me might have been like. The back of my seat…the touch screen. I began to lose my appetite. Then I thought of the subway in way I have never been inclined to think about it…I found myself repulsed at what sorts of eeeeee-yukkky stuff I might be exposed to all day long. And then I really lost my appetite. And I began to worry that I might turn into something like Howard Hughes – so disgusted with filth and paranoid about hygiene that he locked himself in a room filled with air filters.

But I calmed down. And got off the plane as fast as I could. But not before going to use the 'lavatory.' What was interesting about that was that door was unlocked, so I pushed it open and it seemed to stick. Then I put my weight into it and before long the angry face of a woman appeared on the opposite side. She was mad at me, I suppose, because it was my fault she didn't lock the bathroom door on an airplane. When will I learn?

And on the way out, the little piglet glared at me as if I had bad manners, when I didn't let him cut in front of me to get his bags.


Post a Comment

<< Home