"Ladies and gentlemen...We're going to be going through some pretty strong storms up ahead...everyone needs to be in their seats with their seat belts on tight. This includes the flight attendants. Thank you."
So sayeth the pilot of the flight I was on last night....
This was Leg #2 of the flight...from St. Louis to Ft. Myers.
Leg #1 had been bumpy enough - with storms between Kansas City and St. Louis the entire way; and as much as I don't really like being "shaken - not stirred" while flying - I did pretty good on keeping the anxiety down.
Leg #2 had begun innocently enough...I was in my usual preferred window seat...but it went quickly downhill.
It began with an extra-large middle-aged gentleman taking the middle seat next to me.
He immediately claimed both armrests on either side - and I conceded mine, as he's much bigger than me.
He then began to try to surreptitiously sneak his right foot and leg over into my territory.
I conceded a bit of space to him, as I'm in a giving mood.
As we took off, it became very clear that this man could NOT sit still.
He shifted; he fiddled; he leaned back; he leaned up; he'd look at his watch every two minutes and make a sort of odd grunt in his throat; and then begin the routine all over again.
I did my best to ignore him, engrossed in a paperback I had picked up at the airport bookstore. However, when it became evident that HE was now reading my book, as well - over my shoulder - that was TOO much.
I can concede armrests and floor space, but I absolutely can't handle anyone - ANYONE - reading over my shoulder.
I sat the book down and just looked out the window.
This is truly turning into the flight from Hell.
But it gets worse. Much, much worse.
"Have you seen the movie yet?" he asks of my book, which has been recently made into a motion picture.
"No," I reply. "I thought I'd read the book first and see if I like it."
"Well...THIS girl - " and he points to one of the girls on the cover - "steals THAT girl's boyfriend and they get into a huge fight."
It was about this time that the pilot made the announcement about the expected turbulence.
Sure enough, about two minutes later, the plane lurches violently up and down and does a nose-dive for about 10 feet. I'm holding on the one available armrest I have with dear life and genuflecting with my other arm.
And that's, my friends, when it happened.
"HOLY MOTHER OF JE@$%! GOD$^@! FU*@@ @&%(!(#(#(#($($!!!!!!#%$$%^&&&%$##@@$%%%$##!&%$"
My "friend" had just let out the longest, most incredible string of curse words I had ever heard.
Imagine EVERY single cuss word - ever invented since the history of mankind - ALL strung together in one long, loud, panic-filled sentence. It was unbelievable.
My eyes opened in wonderment, and I breathed, "THAT was incredible. How did you DO that?!"
"WHAT???" he screams.
"How did you put together such an incredible string of words like that? I mean, I don't think I even know half of those words - and I thought I was pretty hip. I have to say, I'm very impressed."
He looks at me like I'm crazy...and then begins to talk, prodded on by an occasional question from me. It turns out that:
1. This is only his 3rd flight ever in his entire life.
2. He's extremely claustrophobic.
3. He's terrified of flying.
We were actually doing a few more loopty-loops in the sky at this point, but my new BFF didn't even notice, engrossed in telling me his life story by this time.
Before he knew it, we were coming in for our landing.
"Hey...." he says, a bit suspiciously. "You kept me talking on purpose, so I wouldn't be scared....right?"
"Oh, no!" I lied. "I was fascinated."
Little did he know that when he got so busy talking about himself, he had inadvertently given up the armrest.
And the floor space.
I got my space back.
Score one for me.