Flight of the Douchebag

“I heard that Christmas in Germany is lovely,” one of us murmured, his or her mouth pursed, as though brimming full of caviar and Zinfindel and self-satisfaction. “The Germans just know how to truly celebrate. I think we should all holiday in Europe next winter.”

The Peak of Mt. Popa

Let’s weekend in Burma, shall we? I hear the spring there is divine.

What a horrendous, decadent assemblage of words. What a cock-eyed, over-privileged, obscene collection of phonemes, ordered in such a way that their construction seems pornographic and vile. I cringed internally, even as I think I probably said it.

That we could even fathom to use the word “holiday” as a verb seems to galling and horrific that our tongues should probably be taken into custody by government officials. That all of my articulators, my teeth and my cheeks and my vocal chords, should excise themselves from my body and escape to Tijuana. People didn’t say things like that, nor did they squint and primp just so. We barely qualified as humans anymore; no, we were douchebags, anthropomorphic pond scum from another planet far away.

Reorienting myself to view travel so cavalierly has taken time and effort. As a child I watched documentaries about people jet-setting around the world, I sat through countless seasons of the Amazing Race. I envisioned the kind of people who took wing and journeyed through the skies: they always wore scarves. They purchased insanely expensive bottles of cognac, used the contents as mouthwash, and spat the leavings on the people who flew coach. They slept on beds made of chilled Alaskan salmon and cashmere puppies, soft and rhythmic and alive. The people I thought of were not so much people as they were personified luxury, walking and talking chequebooks with no personalities and a constant, burning desire to wear berets and eat large baguettes.

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The Call of the Travel Goober

Airports

From the serenest airport I’ve ever seen. There were still goobers.

It is approximately 2:34 a.m. We are in the Mumbai Airport, and have completed the security check as well as unseemly reams of paperwork required to properly exit India. We are tired and each of us carries off-brand Thai valium to try to aid sleeping through the twin 9-hour flights that lie before us. We do not want to get on this plane, and we begin doing stretches in a corner far away from all of the other seats, a desperate miniature yoga practice. We will be sitting for approximately the next full 24 hours, and we need as much movement as we can get.

A crowd forms. The airline has set up a network of convoluted stanchions to keep the mass at bay, possibly to lose them in the labyrinth, but something seems to summon them here. The attendants will not let them line up at the actual gate, as we are still dozens of minutes away from boarding, but the horde is growing anxious. It has swollen to over a hundred people, each of them twitching, as though the airport cafe stocked high-grade amphetamines. Were they called? Has a dog whistle sounded? More than half of the people flying to Frankfurt have now joined the undulating crowd, pushing and grunting and trying desperately to get into line so they can get into line.

We have deemed them goobers. They look upon the other travellers, sleepy and world-weary and nervous about the flight, as enemies to be vanquished. Everyone else is an obstacle stopping them from getting on the plane first. There is a woman nearby with a baby, and they think how they might be able to bludgeon her to death, or pass the infant off as their own, so that they might board faster. Her move to the front of the line causes wails of agony, and several people begin brandishing switchblades and butterfly knives, out of nowhere. Several elderly people are brought forward in wheelchairs and a frisson of rage passes over the mob: these wretched, useless monsters will board before us! They should be melted down for soup to provide nutrients to the young and robust. Everyone begins to consider the perfectly legitimate logic contained in Logan’s Run.

It is 2:34 a.m., and we have no idea what is wrong with these people.

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