Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LIVING LIFE: Pretty Fly for a White Guy

Now that I’ve gotten a little bit older and have a little bit more money, airline travel has become one of my new favorite past times (and let’s remember to keep the emphasis on “little” in both of those cases).

I've always loved traveling in general, but driving back and forth across this great country of ours four times already has burnt me out on long road trips for a while. In the meantime, I'm appreciating being able to travel more conveniently through the friendly skies.

The only problem is that every aspect of flying goes against every aspect of my nature.

There’s too much waiting that goes into flying. You have to wait in line to check any bags. Then you have to wait to disrobe in the security line. Then you have to wait at the gate to board the plane. Then you have to wait for the plane to take off.

Then there’s the worst wait of all: when you’ve landed and you’re dying to get off the plane but you have to wait for the flight attendants to help the one idiot dislodge his slightly too large bag from the overhead compartment.

Considering how I flip out if I have to wait at a stoplight longer than a minute and a half, this is not a doctor recommended list of activities for me.

Oh, and then there’s the actual flying.

I know it is all science and physics but if I can’t even comprehend how it’s possible for me to program my DVR at home from my computer at work, I’m never going to get past a man-made aircraft lifting off the ground and flying through the air.

At the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of people climbing into a metal tube and hoping for the best.

But when my Wife and I decided to move almost 2,000 miles away from most of our family and friends, flying suddenly became a necessary evil.

I’m proud to admit that almost two years in, I’m finally starting to calm down, relax, and borderline enjoy it. During take-offs and touch-downs, I no longer have to cling on for dear life to my Wife or, worse yet, the absolute stranger sitting next to me.

Baby steps.

What’s really strange, though, is that when I went to meet a buddy in Missouri last weekend, I realized that I am slowly starting to take on somewhat of a Clive Bixby alter ego when I fly.

First, I noticed that during that aforementioned wait at the gate, I always buy the most recent issue of Esquire magazine. I know that’s that not ridiculously abnormal; Esquire is a well-known, widely read publication. But it is kind of abnormal when you take into account the fact that after buying the magazine a few times at airports last year, I even subscribed to receive it at our house... only to never read it… unless I was on an airplane.

We finally had to plan random flights just to unload the stack of unread issues that were piling up on our coffee table.

Then I observed something unusual when the attendants come by mid-flight for my drink order. I always order tomato juice. In my everyday life, I NEVER drink tomato juice. It’s basically thinned out ketchup. Once again, after ordering it a few times on flights last year, I picked up some tomato juice to keep at our house... only to never drink it… unless I was on an airplane.

Is there some kind of clinical diagnosis for this kind of alternative behavior?

I mean, other than just being a weirdo?

Finally, I have become increasingly aware that I spend money like a drunken sailor whenever I fly. At home, I am militant when it comes to our finances, but when I get out of town I spend it like we got it. I also become a very generous tipper and will tip anyone for doing anything for me.

It’s no coincidence that every city I visit experiences a temporary economic spike. I’ve actually received a few “Thank You” cards from town officials.

I genuinely like who I am as a person, but my alter-ego seems to be having more fun than I ever do. So the truly bizarre question then becomes that if this world traveling-Esquire reading-tomato drinking-free spending son of a gun is fundamentally 36% cooler than I am, why can’t I be him all the time?

Maybe it’s because when you get bogged down in the routine of everyday life, you just need something different – or someone different – to look forward to when climbing into a metal tube and hoping for the best.

Follow Josh on Twitter @Just_Being_Josh and follow @INDT_popculture for entertainment updates

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