Up, Up and NO WAY!

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by Joe Buonfiglio

The holidays are upon us and with it descends the holiday-travel season.  Or as I like to call it, “God takes a break from governing the universe just to peek out of Heaven long enough to give me a good, swift kick in the nutsack.”

So while my libidinous cotillions take time to heal from the supernatural walloping they just received, let me see if I can describe the effects of terror dreams on one’s well-being in a few words.  (Relax.  It’ll all make sense in a minute.)

Instead of going to bed and waking up rested, refreshed and ready to start your day; you wake up exhausted, spent and ready to crawl back into bed hoping that an unexpected solar eclipse suddenly blocks out the sunbeams streaming through your bedroom window.  Only you can’t afford the luxury of taking the day off, so you have to try functioning the rest of the day under the weight of those agonizing, sleep-deprived circumstances.

That’s what living with night terrors is like.  And don’t expect any sympathy from the civilian “normies” (“normal” friends and family not having to endure this shit).  Terror dreams are like back pain.  People who don’t chronically live with it just don’t get it.  They’ll peg you as a “baby,” a “wimp” or even worse, a “liar,” and leave you writhing in the throes of anguish to figure it all out for yourself.  Don’t blame them for their lack of empathy, though; no shared common experience means they just can’t relate.  It’s human nature.

Now imagine having to cope with this same terror insanity during your waking hours.  The culprit?

F-L-Y-I-N-G

Aviophobia, aviatophobia, aerophobia or whatever other term you want to throw at the problem, the pathological fear of flying is all-too real for those of us who live with it every time we have to look to the clouds for transport.  But be aware, it’s you “normies” who see it as “pathological.”  We sufferers see absolutely nothing unreasonably compulsive about latching onto this phobia.  Humans don’t have wings and planes are a little heavier than a pigeon.  It’s not normal to NOT be obsessively panicked about taking to the air.

It is YOU who have the problem glimpsing into reality here, not US!

So, here we are.  It’s the holiday travel season … which is really just code for the holiday flying season.

Oh sure, there are ground-hugging modes of transportation that are even significantly cheaper than taking to the air just to savor one of grandma’s bone-dry turkey dinners while grandpa’s ancient basset hound demonstrates his lack of bowel control right in front of the football game you’re trying to watch.  But let’s face it, these mass-transport vehicles not requiring lift capability simply suck beyond compare.

The train?

Tell me you’re kidding.

Try getting out of Los Angeles on the fucking train over the holidays.  I mean I like LA’s Union Station, but I don’t want to sleep there straight through to New Year’s Day.  Getting a passenger train to pull in and out on time on a regular workday is enough of a challenge for our nation’s rail system.  But the holidays?  Just violate me with a candy cane or fuck me sideways with Aunt Betty’s family-heirloom gravy boat and get it over with already.  You stand a better chance of being “discovered” as the next Hollywood superstar while waiting tables as you would getting anywhere on time via the choo-choo.  And if you’re traveling across more than a state or two, forget it.  It’s really not an option.  Chronologically speaking, to get anywhere reasonably, you’d have to master time travel.  I don’t know about you, but I’d probably fuck that up to the point of pulling myself inside-out through my own butthole.

No thank you!  I’ve got enough problems with interdimensional paradoxes as it is.  Let’s just murder our provincial Orient Express romanticism, shall we?  It just doesn’t make any sense on any level.

Yeah-yeah, I know.  No plane, no train; we’re running out of options.  We gotta go with the bus, right?

Wrong!

Have you ever pulled into the South Philly bus station at two in the morning?  Have you ever had to use the bathroom at New York’s Port Authority bus terminal when it’s packed beyond capacity with holiday travelers?

I have.

Fuck you and your bus.  I’d rather shove hot chestnuts from a Yuletide street vendor at Rockefeller Center up my ass as my new Christmas tradition than take the bus.

Don’t look at me like that.  You know I’m right.

Driving?  Risk the life of my loved ones on our nation’s interstate system?

Nothing says “Thanksgiving” like a truck driver logging in too many hours on the road, falling asleep at the wheel and then spreading your brains all over the highway as if so much Pâté de Foie Gras on those cute little cocktail breads that only enter our lives at the onset of the winter holidays.

Sorry.  Not me.  Nope.  Not today, thank you.  I pass.

So unless you’re going walk across country, teleport via an out-of-body experience or hitch a ride on the sleigh of Weight Watchers failure story #836 (aka Santa), you’re flying the not-so friendly skies, my friend … and so am I.

With sweat cascading from my armpits, I enter the taxicab that has pulled up to my front door.  Actually, this is the only benefit of this whole trip, as my own stench masks the normally overwhelming body odor of the driver.  Later, with my lightheaded brain reeling in the dizzy disorientation the aviophobic panic has induced, I don’t even notice that I have tipped the cabbie 640% as I see the airport terminal looming before me.

The perfect storm of weather-cancelled flights generates an anticipation of advanced frustration that makes the sea of Humanity desperately maneuvering through the security lines an all the more distasteful presence.

“Your shoes and your belt.”

I stare at the TSA agent with confusion.

“Shoes.  Belt.”

“What about them?”

“Off.”

“What?”

“Off, sir.  Take them off and put them in the x-ray bucket.”

What form of madness is this?

“Hurry up, asshole!” comes from somewhere in the itinerant herd behind me.  “You’re not the only one with a plane to catch.”

Sans belt, my rotund waistline wastes no time in thrusting my pants to the floor.

I stand there for a moment donning nothing below the waist but my Batman briefs as I look into the eyes of my TSA tormentor.  She offers no comfort; none whatsoever.  In fact, she seems to delight at the circumstance inducing my humiliation.

Sighing and holding up my drooping pants, I walk barefoot into the TSA-screener.  As the insidious device gleefully reveals to the TSA officer a ghostly snapshot of me in full monty mode, my mind copes with my perpetual mortification by drifting into obscure thought.  It is the only fail-safe left to me.

Mind.  Wandering.  Aimlessly…. … … Surviving.

… or not.

I know I’m going to die if I get on this plane.  I just know it.  I’m going to end up in a fiery blaze of twisted metal and body parts.  The mind’s eye prophetically reveals my own eyes and left thigh winding up fused with a Boy Scout’s torso and the vagina of a skinny supermodel wannabe who just joined the Mile High Club moments before the crash.  My ass becomes a docking station for some hedge-fund manager’s smartphone amidst the wreckage.  My penis ends up splashed across every major news outlet for having impaled itself within the jet’s black box causing irreparable damage.  I’m not coming back from what I’m sure will be the worst air disaster in aviation history.

But there are those who do return from “The Valley of the Shadow.”  It would seem that Death is sometimes outsmarted by a scant few who have seen his judgmental scythe bear down upon them and, yet, come back to tell the tale.

Why is it that everyone who dies, but comes back to the world of the living, always — ALWAYS — talks about how they went to Heaven?  Nobody EVER brings up dying and coming back from Hell.  Why would you want to leave Heaven, but want to stay in Hell?  That makes no sense to me.

I wonder if Hell is just more … well … comfy?

You know, I’m not alone in this madness.  It affects about a quarter of the population.  There were and are a lot of famous people afraid of flying.  Science-fiction icon Isaac Asimov, cinema legend Stanley Kubrick, football great John Madden and many others were reportedly scared of the big metal birds.  Even President Ronald Reagan is said to have had to take a deep breath before stepping onto Air Force One.  Then there’s Napoléon Bonaparte, Gaius Julius Caesar and Aristotle.  They didn’t fly.  You never see any photos of Jesus Christ holding a Delta boarding pass, now do you?

Wait a minute.

Okay, for an obvious reason, those last four don’t count.

“If several different people snuck in different components of a gun or a bomb, could they quickly assemble it in the bathroom and carry it on a plane?”

That didn’t stay in a thought bubble, did it?  I said that aloud, didn’t I?

As the latex-glove sheltered hand and impressive middle finger of the former linebacker in an airport Transportation Security Administration uniform sadistically shoves his colossal digit so far up my ass it feels as if he is playing mini-golf with my prostate, I realize that security is fairly good in this joint.  And even though I am being anally probed worse than that time I was abducted by alien college students making an intergalactic beer run for their frat, that level of security brings me some comFORT!  “HOLY SHIT!  HOLY SHIT-HOLY SHIT-HOLY SHIT-SHIT-SHIT!  THAT HURTS!  WHAT THE FUCK’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!  I DON’T HAVE A NUCLEAR DEVICE TUCKED AWAY IN MY BUNGHOLE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!”

They’re boarding my flight.  They call my row over the public-address system, but I just sit there … sweating … trembling … heart racing.  I finally stumble up to the gate and hand the attendant my ticket.  And then…

And then…

And then…

“Sir?  Sir? … Sir, where are you going?”

I always knew the day would come when I’d get up to the gate, briefly stare down the gangway, and then turn around and walk right out of the airport never to board a plane again.

Today is that day.

You know, I think I’ll go home, light a fire in the fireplace, put a kettle on, brew up some hot cocoa and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  Fuck it.  THAT is the destination for which the holidays were created anyway.

© 2014 Joseph P. Buonfiglio     All Rights Reserved.

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