Farts in a Flying Tin Can


June 2012

Every time my left foot follows my right down a jet-way, scrunching and packed into the hot belly of an airplane, I wonder how absurd it must look.  200 mostly strangers with an imagined sense of urgency, scurry hyper-aware of ever shrinking overhead bin space and the luxury of a window or aisle seat.  We're literally compressed into a flying tin can.  Although it's physics are solid, it feels absurdly unnatural.

In the cavity of the tin can there's no escaping the pungent flavors of 200 fellow passengers.    

Bold letters on my ticket announce a middle seat assignment, 6E.  A soft, aging, white man fills 6F.  He is the exact size of the seat, with a seemingly square body shape.  Like a pair of just right acid wash skinny jeans, he's pressed, no bigger no smaller, an exact fit.  A cube.  I can't see his face, just the balding crown of his gray head.  Somehow, I squeeze past him into the middle seat, with a little unintentional lap sitting.  Sorry sir.

That's when I notice the tinniest woman I have ever seen!

She's in the window seat, hypnotized by the chaotic flow of the tarmac.  I can't see her face but her shoulders are covered with a child-size blue print cardigan, a white blouse tucked into black women's trowsers that are obviously too short.   They reveal white socks, a size too big, stuffed into black croc knock-offs. Every inch of her skin is covered but her face and long-fingered dry hands.  I wonder what her story is.  I'm observing the beauty of her wavy, obsidian, shoulder length hair when she turns toward me.  She's an older Asian woman with tinted amber yellow orbs the size of grapefruits for eyeglasses.  Like she has gigantic butterscotch-candied bug eyes.

I ask, "Where are you going?"

She says,  "Yes. Yes."  And, smiles, nodding.

I smile, nod and say "Yes" too.  A language barrier.

Considering my trigger history, I cringe a bit.  Taking a shallow sip of tangy human air, my eyes close and I repeat my mantra: 

"Triggers are lies I tell myself, I do not need to believe them."

The soft, aging, white man is the tiny woman's diametric human form.  

His hands are also dry.  More than dry, they're calloused and hard.  Not only on his palms but the outsides of his knuckles too.  Like he's never known the soothing feel of Nivea being rubbed into his skin.  I wonder how one gets callouses there.  

A Kindle rests on his belly and he's reading some political novel.  Yes, I might have scanned over a few pages.

The man has a unique face.  His nose is sharp which leads into a firm mauve-colored upper lip.  This is pressing against a chapped fuller and darker pink lower lip.  The corner of his mouth holds bits of the half-eaten sandwich as he smacks and slobbers the ham, cheese and lettuce.  

There is no chin.  It's as if the lower-lip simply gives way into an even fuller, soft, ball-shaped area of translucent skin, peppered by age spots.  

All of this is framed by large square eyeglasses, which look as if they haven't been cleaned in a very long time.  I lean back in my seat, looking through the lenses; the picture is fogged and yellow. 

Sometime during the hour long flight, the soft, white, square man took a nap.  When he jolted awake the Kindle slipped off his belly and his calloused fingers quickly caught it before it fell.  A few minutes later he fell asleep again but this time the Kindle fell to the floor with a thud, accompanied by an open water bottle which began gurgling into the aisle.  

Frantic, this man leaned over to gather his things and I heard a distinct "brrrroot brrrrroot".

No! That didn't just happen.  Maybe, I imagined the "brrrroot" sound?  My hands held my head as I stiffed a giggle.  Instantly, the giggle was silenced with an unmistakable gagging and savory smell!  

Farts in a flying tin can aren't fair.  

This story is told at the gut-busting request of Mr. Scabs.