Our flight from SFO to Munich was exhaustive, leaving San Francisco at 9:30pm and arriving in Munich at 6pm. I watched The Other Guys, which my brother described accurately as “Eh.” And a very gorgeous man-stewardess helped me board, charmingly tolerating my bizarre and superstitious ritual.
“Does it work?” He asked me, all German-accenty?
“Don’t jinx it!” I screamed at him.
I took a Tylenol PM, which turns out, I have some sort of bizarre reaction to. Stuck in my COACH window seat with my brother asleep next to me on the aisle, I started to panic. Restless leg syndrome set it, my temperature rose, I got the most severe case of ants in my pants anyone has ever had. I was twitching, unable to sit still, exhaling “Jesus Christ, help me out here” every 15 seconds into the dark cabin.
Finally, I woke my brother. “Lex, I’ve got to get up. I’m really sorry.”
Drowsy, he kinda shifted out of his seat and looked at me.
“Are you okay?”
“Not really.” I said, and walked to the back. There I found a line for the bathroom and a stewardess who looked at me and said, “Are you okay?”
“It’s really hot out there.” I said. “Like, oddly hot.”
“I go check.” She said, her little Lufthansa hat jiggling on her head.
Once I finally made it in the relatively spacious bathroom, I dunked paper towels in cold water and placed them all over my face and neck, like a crazy person. It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever felt. I stretched, I ran my wrists under cold water, I stood in the galleyway and chugged 4 glasses of water.
“Did you lower the heat?” I felt like a bitch, but I needed to know.
“I go check.” She said. AGAIN.
I went back to my seat, waking my poor brother again, and shimmying back in. He rubbed my arm, covering his kindness bases, and then promptly fell back asleep.
Back and forth I rocked, twitching, antsy, uncomfortable to the point where I was muttering and flailing my arms uncontrollably. It was like situational Tourett’s Syndrome.
As it was pitch black outside, I found that if I opened my window shade, it was slightly cooler, especially if I leaned against the window. No sooner had I opened it than Eva Braun came by in her little hat and outside-voiced, “Close your window shade!”
“So mean!” I said as loudly as I thought I could get away with, to no one in particular. My panic and claustrophobia only worsened.
I couldn’t take it anymore. With tears welling up in my eyes, I was starting to cause a scene while hundreds around me tried to sleep.
“Mom.” I shook her seat in front of me. She woke up.
“Do you have any, like, tranquilizers?” I asked. “I am freaking the fuck out.”
My mother’s travel carry-on contains the leftover prescriptions of her entire life. She has everything in there. She could probably perform surgery if she needed to, with like a general anesthesia kit she’s been carrying around since 1984.
“Yeah.” She said, unflustered in the least. “I have the tiniest little, practically nothing Valium.”
I prefer to avoid mood-altering drugs and prescription pain killers at all costs. I have been to rehab. I’ve seen the results of prescription addition and it’s worse than being a drunk. You’re thinner, sure. But more fucked up.
But it was either take this “practically nothing Valium” or have an air marshall come over and ask me if I’d be more comfortable in the holding tank.
I took the Valium.
My mild guilt and concern over being a recovering addict taking drugs not prescribed to me quickly subsided because that goddamn Valium was taking forever to kick in.
“Come on.” I hissed, twitching like an insane person. “Come ON.”
And then…I fell asleep. I maybe got an hour and a half, I was still uncomfortable and shifty, but the sheer panic and claustrophobia was gone. And I’m pretty sure I have no interest in effortfully obtaining Valium recreationally. I’m not proud of my actions, but circumstances required an exception.
A few hours later, and I felt much, much better. Alex was awake, which I find a general comfort, and we had 2 hours to go. My brother gets tired of me just as quickly as anyone else does, but we genuinely really like each other. And he’s so much calmer than me, so low-maintenance. That I found myself wanting to chat about things, just for the sake of chatting, and instead kept my mouth shut. We have 11 days together, I thought. I should give this man some goddamn peace and quiet. So instead, I listed to my new favorite song, which is the Glide Memorial Church Ensemble singing “He That Loveth Not.” I found it on a CD I got at the Glide Gala.
I was felling better, I was finally allowed to open my window shade, it was really pretty outside as dusk fell over Europe (Valium, folks) and this is a really fun song.
Even if you’re one of those passé God-haters, (yeah, old news. It’s now cool to be tolerant of those that practice faith. FYI.) I challenge you not to dance down the aisles of an Lufthansa Airbus to “He That Loveth Not.”
I love gospel music. And when I got this CD, I just clicked through until I found what I was looking for. It’s this song.
“What the hell are you clapping to?” My brother finally asked.
“God is love! God is love!” I sang back at him.
And with that, we landed in Germany.
Oh, but before we landed, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, put on some make-up, etc. and I discovered that in the middle of the plane, there was a lower floor consisting of a big waiting room and 6 bathrooms!
“You go downstairs.” One of the Lufthansa hats said to me.
“Yes. We have many toilets.”
Indeed they do!
There’s snow on the ground in Munich, or Munchen as they call themselves, and this airport is huge. We had to go through customs upon arrive, and there was a big wanted poster on our customs kiosk. My mother, who lived in Germany for 2 years in the 60’s, decided that “Doppelmord” means “Double Murder.”
So she asked “Beh” the hot customs guy.
She was right.
Everyone is really, really tall here. My 6’5” brother blends right in. And more importantly, so do I! We’re all enjoying alone time during this 4 hour layover before our flight to Krakow, and I can see my father across this wing of the airport, fast asleep in a chair at our gate. Dads can sleep anywhere. It’s like a thing that happens as soon as a man knocks someone up. They immediately enjoy the ability to sleep in any position, under any circumstances. Unlike their spawn, who develop diagnosable mental disorders after a couple of Tylenol PM.
Also, have I made this up? Or is there some shit in Tylenol PM that can really mess your junk up. I know I’ve lost all, “I can’t exaggerate this enough” credibility, but seriously…I almost died.
UPDATE: We landed in Krakow, Poland an hour ago. It's 1am here and looks much like you'd expect. It's foggy, snowy, kinda spooky and packed with really old churches.On our flight from Munich to Krakow, we were given the following. It's saltine crackers, and then underneath and separate is a meatball and pasta salad. The fork kinda folded together to become usable. I need like, 500 of these to bring home. Genius! And surprisingly good...