When asking me why I always felt pressured to do and see everything that I could possibly dream of immediately, Mamadukes usually couples the question with the statement, "I didn't really start traveling until much later in life after you and Brother (only she actually calls him by his first name, while I continue to insist on referring to him by his proper title) were older. I didn't go to Greece until I was 50. You have plenty of time to do all these things that you want to do." My answer to this question is always some variation of the following: because "I could be dying," "I might die," "I'm just afraid of dying," or "I just don't want to die!" Of course, I hardly ever voice any of this aloud. Typically, I simply shrug and mumble, "I dunno" and call it a day.
I know we've mentioned this 100 times already in previous blogs, but it's pretty pertinent to repeat it here. I hate to fly, which I know is completely ridiculous considering that most of my personal goals involve some form of travel. However, I am almost 90% sure that my death will come at the hands of an airplane malfunction, snake bite, great white attack, or cancer. Needless to say, these frequent stadium trips are enough to send me into therapy. Baseball has put me on an airplane far too many times for my comfort. Therefore, when Papa L dropped Lisa and I off at JFK at the ungodly hour of 6:30 this morning for our cross-country flight, I was a bit uneasy.
You try to play the mind over matter game where you tell yourself would-be comforting words of wisdom like, "more people die in car crashes everyday." Why is this remotely comforting? Thinking about this makes me feel like I should fear my Ford Focus. "You've flown dozens of times and you've always landed safely. You have nothing to worry about." Actually, statistics tell me that I do have something to worry about. Keep throwing that fast ball down the middle and the batter will eventually catch up to it and make you pay. Keep flying and the likelihood of your plane going down in a blaze of flames and hot, twisted metal increases. By the time you board the plane, your armpits are starting to sweat, you begin to worry that you may have forgotten to put on deodorant that morning, you subtly check, find out that much to your relief, you did remember to put on deodorant, and your heart pounds so loudly in your head that you can barely hear what Lisa is saying over the din. You wonder how it is that she can't hear your heart. Then you become lightheaded from failing to realize that you've been holding your breath for too long.
Now you start to rationalize that most crashes take place during take off or landing, so really, once in the air, you're fine (I'm not even sure that this is true, but it's what I tell myself to calm down). Once that's figured out, you just sit back and watch reruns of My Super Sweet 16 and wait for take off.
I feel like Lisa and I sat on the unmoving aircraft for an unusually long amount of time before it started to slowly roll away from the gate. Even our "stroll" to the runway took an unreasonable amount of time. Was this pilot driving Miss Daisy? I swear that I run faster than this man drove the plane.
When we finally started to pick up speed, I understood why he'd been driving so slow in the first place. Our pilot apparently drives like an asshole. Simple as that. There are drunk drivers that have better control over their vehicles than the pilot had over our plane. As the plane barreled recklessly down the runway, fishtailing left and right, I gripped the arm rest so tightly that my knuckles were bleached white. Lisa squeezed her grandmother's rosary beads in one hand while her other hand dug its fingernails into my forearm's flesh. I didn't even feel it. All I could think about was how I'd forgotten to call Papadukes before boarding and that I'd only kissed Mamadukes that morning. Not that Brother would've appreciated the heartfelt good-bye at dawn, but he would have later that day when he found out that I'd died and that the family would have to bury an empty casket because my body was incinerated in the wreck. Not even my teeth remained.
Lisa looked at me, mouth ajar and her eyes wide in terror. "What is happening? What is happening?" Unable to deal with the grass, concrete, and sky rushing past our window in a blur, she hastily slammed the blind down, blotting out the sunlight.
My arm slipped over our shared arm rest and my muscles tightened against the cool plastic. I accidentally hit the button to control Lisa's chair and her seat abruptly flew backwards, causing her to flail sideways and hit her head against the chalk-white cabin wall. "Ohmigod!" she cried.
"I drive bumper cars better than this!" I exclaim.
"He's trying to put us in the wall!"
My stomach lurched and my head dipped as I felt the plane's front wheel disengage from the ground. As the rest of the plane's body followed suit, my body slammed back into the seat. I now gripped the arm rest with such intensity that it pulled up and remained erect. The aircraft continued its upward trajectory, following the dips and rises of imaginary hills.
What the f************ck?! What the f*************ck?!
Then strangely, the plane suddenly flattened out like a boat sailing on calm water. My chest heaved violently from my panicked breathing and my palms were moist with sweat, but we were alive and as far as I could tell, I was not going into cardiac arrest. We'll officially make it to at least three more baseball stadiums before death overcomes us.
Lisa has now rolled over on her side in the guest bed that we're sharing, so I'm signing off. We'll be sure to post a detailed report on Angels Stadium as soon as we're East Coast-bound.