Cruising to fifty, part one: Taking flight

This is the first part of a series of blogs about the cruise the Wife and I went on last October. A quick set up:

I turned 50 on October 6, 2012. My wife surprised me about three weeks before, during a particular low spot in my life with a piece of paper. “Happy birthday,” she said. I opened the paper and quickly scanned it.

“We’re going on a cruise?” I said, and my mind kind of shut down with happiness after that. In fact, it wasn’t until several minutes later, as I was refolding the paper, that I saw the word “Greece” and just about shit. This is the story of what happened on that trip, taken almost exclusively from the diary I kept along the way.

Well I’m leavin’ on a jet planeDon’t know when I’ll be back again.

John Denver

October 5, 2012

Two hours and eighteen minutes before I turn fifty. Shit!

I had a realization on the highway as we headed toward the airport and felt my heart drop to my stomach. We’d ensured the kids were well provided for, kissed and hugged them (probably too much) and left. But, more than a half-hour away from the house, I realized something horrifying and turned to the Wife. “Oh my God, I forgot to say goodbye to Maxx!”

Maxx is my dog. We’ve had him about nine years and I’ve walked him twice a day, picked up his crap, taken him to the vet, fed him, bathed him etc since we got him. You could say I’m his primary caregiver. And, in my excitement to leave, I forgot to say goodbye to him.

The wife smiled broadly. She was actually happy. I didn’t get it. “Finally!” she said. “Finally I come before that damn dog!”


That’s just hurtful.

We got to the airport, got through the baggage lines and then went to the appropriate gate to wait for the plane. We were ridiculously early, but I’d rather be early than late. However, I had put in a full day of work as the Wife did the final packing and getting us ready for a week away. So, when I basically unplugged from work at about 4:00, we were pretty much good to go and left about 90 minutes later.  For a flight at about 10 pm.  Yeah.

Anyway, we’re sitting waiting for the plane and the Wife jokes about throwing me off the ship’s balcony so she can upgrade to a hot Italian or Greek guy. “It’ll be easy,” she says as she leans over and pats my belly. “You’re top heavy.”

I gave her a look, reached over, patted a boob and said, “You’re not.”

Interestingly, she didn’t seem to find that as uproariously funny as I did, for some reason. Imagine.

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At one point, I figured I’d go get my last hit of good old Canadian coffee from Tim Horton’s. It was a long walk from our gate, but I figured with the all-night flight, I could use it, and God knows I had the time. So I finally found it, got in line behind three other patrons. The line moved at a glacial pace and it was then that I realized that each of these morons refused to take that fifteen minutes of time standing in line to actually figure out what the fuck they wanted, choosing instead to wait until they walked up to the cashier and only then decide to read the entire menu board in great detail before making their decision. Yes, I became rather vocal and spoke loudly of morons to the person waiting behind me. Yes, I’m that person.

Back at the gate, we finally get the word that the flight will be boarding shortly. The flight time is seven hours and forty-five minutes. Holy crap…we’re going to Europe!

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One the plane, we’re in the middle section of three seats, with me in the middle, the Wife to my right and a nice enough guy to my left. But then there’s the goddamn woman directly in front of me who stows her luggage, sits down and immediately kicks the seat back. The stewardess comes along and tells her to keep it upright until the seatbelt signs go off. As we leave the ground–and I mean literally as the wheels leave the ground, she kicks the goddamn seat back again.

But that isn’t the worst. About every two to three minutes, she reaches up, grabs a wad of her big, curly hair, fluffs it, then tosses it back over the headrest, pretty much into my face. Every. Two. Minutes.

When the meal is served, I’m sorely tempted to forfeit it just to hold it up high enough for her to fluff her hair into it. I wish for some sort of creamy soup. It doesn’t happen, unfortunately.

A side note on the meals. The first one was some sort of chicken and pasta. It tasted all right, but the chicken was as hard as plastic and the cheese at one side had morphed into an impenetrable glob of cold, hardened lava. There was some sort of cake thing that I believe was supposed to be spongey, but it was more coral-like. This meal was brought to you by the word, “hard.”

The Continental (which is code for “half-assed”) breakfast consisted of orange juice, yogurt and a hard danish. This meal was brought to you by the word, “prepackaged.”

Coffee? Yeah, the word here is, “unspeakable.”

Anyway, back to our friends in flight.

There’s the three older women beside the fluffer. One on our side of the aisle, two on the window side. They come on and proceed to cackle like three old witches in a Greek tragedy. As soon as the seatbelt sign goes out, they’re up and pulling bags from the overhead bins. Then they’re down and cackling. Then they’re up again. Down and cackle. Up and grabbing. Goddamn.

This could be a long flight. Ah well, at least they’re showing Men In Black 3. I haven’t seen that one yet.

See part two here.

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The Wife’s looking a little tired. Or, she’s thinking of how much better the pics will look with a hot Italian or Greek guy…