Ben Stiller and one of the Wilson brothers are talking to Egyptians. Jennifer Garner is annoyed with what looks to be an anorexic Matthew McConaughey. And next to me, Robert DeNiro is taking a walk in a park. I’m listening to Beethoven – and while his 9th Symphony is pleasant, I’m reminded of one of the reasons I prefer flying Southwest – simplicity. Some might call it no frills. I think of it more as freedom. Freedom from the entertainment of others. Intrusion-less into the calm reflective or comradery time that is my time in the air.
On Southwest, I sit in the front row – nearly every time, certainly every time I can – and all the rest of the plane does not exist. There is no seat back in front of me to crunch my knees. There is no tray table that doesn’t go flat on my lap. There is no meal that I can’t eat while everyone else scarfs down food. We all have the same little baggie of snack something.
I read, write, knit or make friends with the person next to me. They’re always exceedingly nice. Mark, the 7’ tall Warriors fan from Australia. Hamed, the Algerian Berkeleyite with a fabulous seasonal home in North Africa. The very pleasant gentleman who calmly tolerated the walking stereotype valley girl and her purse doggie. But Southwest doesn’t fly internationally, so here I am, 10 rows back in seat 14D. The seats are spacious. There’s no seat back in my knees, but the tray table doesn’t fit over my legs.
I have grand plans of reading, but the shiny sparkles of tv screens pull my eyes, darting in every direction. A man wearing a plastic sheet as a boa, what looks like Julianne Moore dying of AIDS or consumption. A cave man smooshing the face of the Australian chick from the acapella movie Munchkinhead loves (the one where the sequel has the Packers), and a bunch of old men in a park with that guy who sings “Party Rock Anthem” (what?). So my book sits on my lap and I blame these fancy flights, these bored passengers taking advantage of the free entertainment, for my lack of interest in Susan Sell.
Truth is, her eye-poking style of writing makes me rather crabby and I’m already having difficulty being nice to the world. I should have packed some Ruth Okediji instead, or Pride and Prejudice.