After spending 4.5 more hours at the office than I expected, I beat Billiam to SFO for our red-eye flight into JFK. While he prepped with sleeping pills, I merely rolled up my scarf to tuck under my neck. Naps, flights, and I get along really well. I don’t get motion sickness, I find turbulence to be fun, and I can generally fall into a deep sleep without any troubles.
We had booked two seats on Virgin America, picking one center and one window in the middle of the cabin. That day Virgin changed our flight accommodations just slightly, though, and we ended up sitting in the back row of a smaller plane. (And when I say back row, I mean back row.) Whatever. Just as long as they got us there in two respective pieces, I’d be happy.
Before the end of animated safety procedures video, I had already passed out. I love red eyes for this reason: That I can get a semi-normal night’s sleep and wake up ready to start a new day in a whole different time zone. It’s the most time-efficient travel this side of teleportation! For the most part, nothing about flying phases me.
After a couple of hours in flight, I started to wake again. It wasn’t like I was hit with a sudden wave of alertness. I definitely wasn’t rested. I was just wholly uncomfortable and, despite my eyelids being heavy, I couldn’t bring myself to successfully doze off again.
In fact, I was actually beginning to feel a bit ill. There wasn’t any turbulence on the plane. It’s not that I had eaten anything to throw off my stomach. I just felt nauseous. Not being able to figure out the root of the problem was only adding to the hurt in my head.
I twisted the air vent overhead, and suddenly everything became crystal clear. I was feeling nauseous because someone was farting up a storm. I couldn’t breathe. I was literally sitting in the deepest, farthest corner of the airtight airplane, and the visual of a thick cloud of stench both amused and disgusted me.
I considered my neighbors as I wallowed in my predicament. Billiam slept next to me, so I shot him dirty looks. “How gross! He keeps farting in his sleep! He’s lucky I love him…” But, actually, that didn’t really make sense. Let me be the first to say that if there’s one farty person in our relationship, it’s me. I don’t even think I’ve heard Billiam fart. TMI? Too late. There is nary a significant other out there who wouldn’t like to be written up for not farting. Personally, I would take that as a compliment. It’d be a lie, but I would say “Thank you.” (You’re welcome, Billiam.)
Naturally, my thoughts then drifted to the guy in the seat in front of me. He didn’t know it, but I was shooting the sharpest ice daggers I could muster through the back of his seat, into his skull. “Stinky ass neighbor.” But that didn’t really make sense either. You’d have to be tooting up a literal storm to create all the flatulence that was attacking my senses. No one person could do that. Even if he had a medical condition, I probably would have noticed it at the very beginning of the flight. Virgin America seat cushions aren’t flotation devices, but shouldn’t they have some degree of absorption when it comes to the bums of their sittees?
As I looked around trying to find another scapegoat for my misfortune, it came to me. Or rather, they went past me. We had reached the point in the flight when passengers were answering the call of the seatbelt light dinging to off, and they were establishing a regular flow of traffic to the rear lavatories. Which meant that as I sat there, one by one a new restroom visitor was doing her or his “business,” flushing, and making room for the next guy. In the lavatory. Behind my head. Their collective stench filling my nostrils.
Gross. Their shit(ting) was making me sick.
It would have been more trouble to get up and walk around (and potentially fall over from nausea) than anything else, what with my two row-mates fully zonked out to the left of me and a line two-to-three-deep in the aisle yonder. I felt very stuck. And very sick. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought “Aww, sick!”
Eventually Billiam awoke to me, doubled over in frustration and nausea, fighting a losing battle between not breathing and searching for the last untainted pocket of air overhead. He asked me what was wrong and tried to comfort me by rubbing my back. I clutched my scarf around my nose and mouth, but my breathing was still restricted because I didn’t want to sniff fart for the rest of the trip.
Believing that there must have been a better solution than what I was living with at the moment, I finally resorted to the butt of many a family vacation joke: the barf bag. I don’t know what it is about barf bags, but whenever my twin brother and older sister and I needed something to jeer on a plane, we turned to the barf bag. Endless entertainment.
Pulling it out of the seat pocket in front of me gave me fleeting feelings of being really old, but I got over that quickly once I dug my nose into the mouth of the bag. Instant relief. Billiam asked if the barf bag was making me feel any better. “Yeah!” I said, from the safety of the bag. “This smells…delicious!”
“Delicious” wasn’t a word I had ever expected to use to describe the interior of a barf bag, and Billiam was a bit surprised, too. “It smells, like, really good in here…” I explained. It smelled as strong as our living room after lighting up Pier 1 candles. It smelled like a Pier 1 candle. It was like it had its own flavor…
I knew Virgin America was supposed to be the trendiest of airlines, but scented barf bags? This was almost too much. I drew my face away from the bag to see if I could find any sort of “Congratulations! You are sniffing Virgin America’s new olfactory-friendly perfumed vomit bags!” There was no such note. I opened the bag some more, and there, wadded in the corner, was my answer.
Someone in a flight before us had discarded of their fruity blue chewing gum in the barf bag that was destined to be my savior.
I survived the rest of the flight without any problems. I weighed my options about continuing to inhale someone’s ABC gum or covering and filtering my air passages without the aid of the barf bag. True to my democratic nature, I alternated. Now I don’t think tossing the remains of sweet-smelling candy into airplane vomit bags is so bad. Thanks, ABC Gum.