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Thursday, May 29, 2003  

In the Air Tonight

I figured my allergies are over for the season. I’m still taking the meds, even though they did their job, and I plan to keep my doctor’s appointment next week even though it doesn’t look like I’ll have any symptoms to show them. But I brought my allergy drugs to Hawaii, just to be safe. And to see if they’d actually work.

I mean, it’s a tropical climate. It’s never not spring there. The popular image of the place is that of a green hell where you can’t take a step without kicking up a cloud of fallen hibiscus blossoms, and if you linger over your dessert you’re going to have to ask the maitre’d for a machete so you can hack your way back to your parking spot. I was bringing my shiny new allergies to spend six days in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a tiny dot made entirely of lava and pollen. Of course I brought my meds, figuring they’d do me as much good as Butch and Sundance’s guns did for them in Bolivia.

I was wrong. They didn’t even help me that much. Because, as it turns out, I didn’t need them. Imagine Butch and Sundance dashing out of the fort, ready to go down in a blaze of glory, and nobody’s even there to shoot back at them. I went to a place where tens of thousands of years of evolution in geographical isolation has engineered allergens the like of which my respiratory system has never seen before, histamines that should have had me sucking on my inhaler like a scuba diver on a regulator, and their harmful effects on me were negligible. Less than negligible, in fact—negative. I took a huff of Albuterol on the fourth day just to remind myself how to do it.

Then we got back yesterday afternoon, and maybe it’s the fact that my internal clock is running five hours slow, or total exhaustion caused by my utter inability to sleep on an airplane even in an exit row on a seven-hour overnight flight, or Strat’s four-hour “YOU’RE HOOOOOME!” cuddlefest, but when I woke up this morning I was hacking and wheezing like I’d swallowed a used air filter from a ’72 Gremlin.

Damn. Now I have to move to Hawaii. Nothing for it, I suppose.

* * *

No, I can’t sleep on an airplane, thanks for asking. It seems to be the only place I can’t sleep. It’s not that I have claustrophobia or a fear of flying; it’s just that I’m too damn big. I can’t get comfortable. It doesn’t matter how tired or jetlagged I am; if I manage to close my eyes for any length of time, it’s entirely due to the in-flight movie. Trash, bless her, popped a Unisom™ ten minutes before boarding. I considered doing the same, but then I would have been awake, uncomfortable and drugged, so I chickened out. Trash, who actually falls within the size range of people for whom airplane seats are designed, was crashed out on my shoulder almost before we were in the air.

This is a problem. Under normal circumstances, I’m a heavy sleeper. Trash, by contrast, is such a light sleeper that the airlines give us a discount if she’s unconscious for at least half the flight. If I move—if I reach for my book, or the headset, or my tray table, or a complete lungful of air, it’ll be enough to jostle her into awareness and I’ll feel like an ass.

After an hour or so, that’s what I’m feeling like anyway. More precisely, I’m feeling like I’m nothing but a giant, entire-human-sized ass. Because that region of my body is crying out in pain so loudly that my entire miserable existence feels focused on my glutes. And the part that isn't is desperately sending the telepathic mesage "wakeupwakeupwakeupwakeupwakeup" across the inch of empty space that separates my skull from my wife's. The considerable weight of my upper body, along with the less considerable weight of Trash’s head, is pressing straight down relentlessly until it feels like my lower back is telescoping downwards. I was six-two when I boarded, but I’m going to deplane in Denver looking like an assless Seth Green.

This is why I can’t sleep on a plane. I have no sleeping disorders of any kind, unless there’s a clinical name for “unable to effortlessly drift off into a state of Morphean bliss while steeped ribcage-deep in ass-originating agony.” Even my ass couldn’t sleep, and if it couldn’t do it under those conditions I see no reason why the rest of me should have been able to.

Maybe all of my future trans-oceanic flights should be in First Class, or one of those Virgin Airlines planes where your seat actually reclines into fully horizontal bed. It’ll cost a bit more to get there, but the comfort in transit might make up for not being able to afford to leave the airport once I get there.

Because taking a nap on our living-room floor felt pretty darn luxurious after our flight. Ah, the siren call of a level stretch of berber. How decadent.

posted by M. Giant 3:22 PM 0 comments


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