AWP Special #2: A Few Thoughts on Planes

(NB: This conference is fun, crazy, and what some people call imparable. I finally ate a bacon cheeseburger this evening, which was the first real thing I had ingested since the plane ride, when I ate a cheeseburger with French fries. Maybe there is something to be said for the stereotype of Americans eating a lot of cheeseburgers. Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually eat something that requires a fork. Either way, my original intention of blogging a shit load has fallen to the wayside; this isn’t to say they’re not being written, but they’re not being written in a timely manner. Pretend, in other words, that it’s Wednesday, and this is coming from the plane.)


Children are used to being told what they can and cannot do for the majority of the day. This isn’t to say they won’t fuss, or go stir crazy, but if you give kids enough empty calories and empty threats, they’ll generally do what you tell them. 

Adults, on the other hand, are accustomed to doing what they want, when they want. Being locked in a specific seat and chastised for infractions like “coat in wrong spot” or “seat reclined three degrees too far back” is not just frustrating, but a straight blow to the ego. Why is this person in a cerulean power suit with a pair of golden wings pinned to her boob and a haircut from the beauty school Frenchie attended telling me how to do anything? Combine that with the fact that Air Professionals – is that the P.C. term now? – all have this tone that I assume is supposed to be benevolent and soothing but comes off as either patronizing, bitchily simpering, or downright mocking (depending on how many hours into the flight you are) and you have 40 rows of individuals exploding with boredom, inferiority complexes, and starvation who are ready to fight at the drop of a peanut. Or a pretzel, in this day and age.


One goes into a six-hour flight with a long book and a couple of assignments, thinking that this chunk of time will be the ideal place to get some serious work done. In reality, though, you spend the first half hour fidgeting, waiting for taxi, attempting and failing to dismiss thoughts of imminent demise, wondering just how high off the ground one can fall from without breaking into a thousand people and dying instantly, sweating, freezing, and finally getting a Diet Coke with way too much ice. The next half hour is spent wondering if they’re going to give out food. If you’re on Delta or Virgin, you may get a little snack. If you’re on United, you will get absolutely nothing of sustenance, and it will literally take three hours for you to get a tiny cup of water. Drinking is possible, obviously, but then you’re trapped in a moving aircraft between a couple of strangers who don’t want to have to deal with the fact that you broke the seal. Or else your bladder’s fine, but you’re jonesing for a cigarette, and don’t have the $10,000 to put up when they catch and fine you. (Sidebar: The true mark of wealth, in my opinion, is knowing that you can fly economy, smoke in the bathroom, and pay the fine without thinking twice about how you’re going to afford shampoo for the next month.) 


Much like convicts, airplane passengers have to think of creative ways to pass their time. At a certain point, after we drank water, soft drinks, and hard drinks, we grew tired of the books and writing and in-flight movie and started to get weird. When you have a group of writers half-way mad stuck in the last row of an aeroplane, the result is often lists. Many lists.


  • $20 to masturbate in the bathroom a.k.a. Join Mile High Club Alone
  • $50 to recite a William Blake or other similar
  • $0.50 to ask Air Professional when we’re going to land
  • Bag of Peanuts if there are Panels on Sunday


  • Luge / Skeleton / Bobsled: You don’t actually do anything but sit in a tube
  • Figure Skating: Unsure of how this made the list but it was a non-negotioable
  • Curling: Pushing a tire-brick on ice (Counterpoint: Ancient religious ritual)
  • Biathlon: How is this a sport? What the fuck is impressive about this?


  • The Fecal Jump: New Yorkers would excel. Dodging mounds of shit on the sidewalk while heading to very important places
  • Pole Dancing: Based on Ukrainian Woman’s “Upper Body Strength.” (Addendum: Individual Might Have Been Be Slovakian)
  • Accepting Mediocrity: This is the antithesis of the Olympics, and what most human beings are currently terrible at
  • Fluffing: a) As In Porn / b) As In Pillows


  • #pants
  • #momjeans
  • #editorslacks
  • #express
  • #smallbutt
  • #pleats


Airplanes are great places to come to terms with your mortality. Even though statistics show that you’re more likely to die in a car, a subway, or a Subway chain (cardiovascular disease; double meat) I’ve spent a significant amount of time on planes, and I can categorically assure you that I spend the entire takeoff imagining myself floating through the air, singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” before splattering into the ground. Thus, I conclude that the best flights are the early morning ones after a goodbye party, or a night of debauchery.  You’ll be so entirely hungover that death seems like the better option.



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