Have any of you ever suffered from Vertigo? Well I have, and it sucks.
Today’s tale is dedicated to my bro, Patrick. Patrick and I are co-workers, and once upon a time I must have shared this story with him while we were traveling together. I tend to tell lots of stories to people who travel with me. People usually only travel with me once.
Anyway…Patrick thought the story I’m about to tell was funny, interesting, and just “messed up” enough to be shared with the masses, so he suggested I should write it as a ‘Chronicle’. I told him he should mind his own business, and not tell me what to write, and to go fuck himself. Upon reflection, I realized my initial response to his suggestion may have been a bit course. I can’t really apologize to him, because apologizing would be admitting I was wrong, and even though I was wrong, I can’t go around apologizing to people every time I’m wrong about something.
A long time ago, in an airport far, far away, I was waiting for my terminating flight to Hartford CT, and my ears would not “un-pop” from my previous, connecting flight from Kansas City. I was uncomfortable. I was suffering from a minor sinus infection, nothing debilitating, but certainly unpleasant while flying. I made quite a spectacle of myself walking around the terminal, pinching my nostrils together and blowing into the blocked off nasal cavity with all my might. It made me dizzy, and frustrated…and it didn’t work. Passersby watched and judged as I stood in line to board the plane, and turned my pale winter face a deep crimson as I continued my pressure relief attempts. It still didn’t work.
I was not excited about getting on another airplane. I wondered if my ears would double pop on the next trip. And I wondered if my ears double popped, would my head explode? It seemed like a possibility, even though I had never heard of this occurring before. So then I imagined if my head did explode, it would suck for my fellow passengers what with the mess and everything, but since it had never happened before, I would probably have a story written about me in ‘People Magazine’…and that would be cool.
My wife’s dream is to be in ‘People Magazine’, so maybe she could be in the article as well:
“…he is survived by his wife and children in Kansas City. When we spoke with Mrs. Large Man, she said ‘His head looked fine when he left that morning. He talked like he was a little stuffy, but that was it. It’s all so shocking and hard to process. Do we get any money for this interview? You know, the Maury people want an exclusive, and they’re talking deep into 4 figure territory. Just saying. I’m probably going to have to raise these two children on my own for a few months.’”
Even though I wondered about these things, we never made it to ‘People’, because, obviously, nothing exploded. Well…technically.
So I hop on the plane, and we take off, and I feel the pressure build as we climb. I expected it, so I just took the pain as the air pressure in the cabin grabbed two metaphorical ice picks and jammed them mercilessly into both of my ears. Pain isn’t really a big deal to me. I took it like a man…like a Large Man.
Then, the bell chimed, indicating we had reached 10,000 feet…and my ears un-popped. For about 2 seconds, everything felt great. Such relief…for about 2 seconds.
So I hear the chime, the ears clear, and as I exhale the sigh of relief, the plane appeared to turn upside down. As the plane turned upside down, my body became completely drenched from sweat (I hoped). I felt a total body tremor, and within another second or 2 a wave of nausea completely overtook me.
I’m on a Southwest Airlines flight, about 3 rows back from the forward lavatory, but we were still in our ascent, and as far as I could tell the plane was still upside down, although now it was spinning in circles while we were upside down. I pressed the help button, and a flight attendant announced over the intercom that the flight attendants were not available until we reached a safe altitude. There was an empty seat between me and the dude sitting by the window. I remember looking at him with pleading eyes and he smiled at me. At that moment, I assumed that he assumed he was going to heaven after our plane crashed. The flight attendants were calm as well, and as I looked around the cabin at all the other passengers, no one was afraid. They were calm, some were sleeping, some were talking, others were listening to iTunes, on their iPhones or their iPods, completely at peace with our impending iDoom.
At that point I realized while I have been a bit of douche bag most of my life, I couldn’t be the only person on the plane not going to heaven. I looked behind me, and quickly determined that the asshole in 7F had no shot at “ascending to the light”, based solely on the fact that he was wearing a blue seersucker jacket with a tan button down oxford shirt, brown slacks, RED socks and black lace up cap toed shoes. Five different articles of clothing, and couldn’t match two? Yet he was calm.
I don’t know if it was 7F’s f-ed up apparel, or my own malady but I could no longer keep the contents of my stomach contained. I grabbed the airsickness bag and even in my state of panic and confusion, I deftly unfolded it just in time to release the morning’s sausage, egg & cheddar on everything bagel mixed with diet Coke, into the bag.
Well, that was the plan anyway. However, I still thought I was upside down, so instead of tossing my bagels downward into my emergency puke container, I held the bag above my head as I leaned my head back. The vomit percolated out of me, upwards… like one of those old style water fountains that would shoot straight up and then fall back into the basin. Unfortunately, the “basin” in this situation was my bearded chin.
This was unfortunate.
The dude sitting next to me, the one going to heaven, looked at me in horror, and asked in a rather unsympathetic tone, “What the fuck are you doing?”
I replied calmly, wait, no…I mean hysterically, “I don’t know. Is the plane upside down? Are we going down?”
He just smiled and said, “No, you have vertigo, and you just got puke all over your clothes.”
And then the smell hit him and he covered his mouth and his nose and his gag reflex started tickling the back of his throat, and he almost puked as well. His body heaved a couple of times, and then he just turned away and faced the window…like a little baby.
About a minute later, the plane leveled off and a flight attendant brought me a handful of paper towels and a plastic bag, looked at me with utter disgust and said with a totally phony smile, “Just do the best you can, sir.” Then her hand went over her mouth and she did the “body wretch” dance as well.
I cleaned up as best I could, I threw the paper towels into the plastic bag, wrapped it up tight, and tried to hand it to the flight attendant. She looked at me with the disdain that someone might have if they watched someone else puke all over their self. I couldn’t blame her for that one…totally MY bad in this situation.
She said, “I don’t get paid enough to handle that bag. Please just keep it under the seat in front of you until we land, and find a wastebasket at the airport, sir.” She was very polite, with all the “sirs” and everything, but I didn’t get the feeling that she liked me.
We landed. I did as she instructed. And the horrifying and shameful experience was over…
…until the next time I flew on a plane.
Thanks for reading. I hope Patrick was right, and you found it to be a story worth reading.
Tell someone you love them today.