Please Take Your Seats

I don’t usually take pills when I fly, but I’m sure glad I did this time.

“Hand me one of those, too”. It’s a small little circular thing and down it goes nice and easy with a healthy gulp of Maker’s Mark. Actually the Maker’s Mark didn’t come til later. The pill was a dry swallow. But it went down alright all the same.

The thing about these pills is that they are dynamite. One of these babies will relax you like a good massage without the pain of some old lady walking on your back. All you have to do is pop it, and sit your ass down in one of those cramped economy class seats. Give it 20 minutes or so. You will soon enter a state of relaxation, even if there is a belligerent baby bellowing next to you. From there, alls you gotta do is put on some good music and close your eyes. You ever get jelly neck? When you’re so tired that you fall asleep sitting up and your neck lolls back and forth, up and down, until you pass out with your head parallel to your shoulder? Your mouth gaping open like a dead guy. That’s what happens when you take this pill and fly.

“I put that brick in yo face. Now whatcha gon do wit-”

I am jolted awake by an explosion. I look out the window and the right engine of the plane is engulfed in flames. We stop our ascent to cruising altitude and dip toward the face of a brown rocky mountain.

There is silence for a brief moment. No one acknowledges that a part of our plane is on fire and that we are falling. No one can believe that we are going to die.

Then, from the portly woman sitting in front of me comes a cry of “Oh my god!”, which rings in a chorus of wails and shrieks from every corner of the cabin. My brother and his friend begin to pray for the first time in their lives.

As for me, I’m not too worried. The view past the burning metal engine that once kept us airborne is breathtaking and all I want is to get a closer look. I keep my noise-canceling headphones on to drone out the panic and I press my face up against the glass.

My high school principal once asked our English class to write our own obituaries. It was an exercise that raised the ire of many parents, but nevertheless was an annual tradition for every senior class. Here’s what I wrote when I was eighteen:

“I never liked flying, so maybe it’s fitting that I die in a plane crash. It’s a sad irony that the most ambitious moments of your life occur right when you know that you’re on the verge of oblivion. I should have studied harder, I should have been better to my parents, and I should have taken more risks. They say living with regret is the biggest burden, but I say that dying with regret is even worse.”

“Brace for impact” — the pilot is telling us that we don’t have much longer until we hit the ground. I’m not thinking about that, though. I’m thinking about getting a double of Maker’s Mark, on the rocks, first thing when I get off this plane.