Thursday, April 26, 2012

Waiting for my flight to London.

Smoking rooms in airports look like breeding grounds for sex pests. This breeding ground in Hong Kong looks especially seedy today. One man: grey snake-skin pants complemented by green snake skin shoes; long, greasy hair, aviator sunglasses perched on top; a half-smoked cigarette stuck to yellow teeth, its ash playing ‘chicken’ with the floor.
"Is that your wife?" He asks another, nodding through the glass at a seated woman.
"No, she is just a friend". His accent sounds Portuguese. What I wouldn’t do for a Nandos wrap right now.
Snake-skin pants’ eyes widen.
“I see.”
Somewhere in the room there’s an incessant snapping; the same noise a bug light makes when a mosquito flies into it. It takes me 5 drags to work out it's coming from an irritated man in the corner, flicking his lighter. For all I know he could have been here all day. This could be his stomping ground. Perhaps even his profession. I wasn’t here to argue, so half-way through my Duty Free cancer stick, I butt out and search for a toilet.

It’s a unique desire to shit that I feel in an airport. Part of my bowel is refusing to work after sitting on a plane for so long, but the pit of my stomach is confused, gargling the three lattes I’ve consumed already out of transit-boredom. As I reach the entrance to the toilet, I’m crippled with fear.
How many people have shat here today? How many people have had diarrhea in the toilet which I am about to sit on? How many people with venereal diseases have shared this seat? Will I be seated on the plane next to the person who catches me exiting the cubicle? What will they think? What will they smell?
It’s too late. The anxiety of holding ‘it’ in and omitting a poo-like smell from my pores proves too much.
I take the plunge.

Satisfied that I’m no longer omitting a foul smell (nothing worse than added anxiety on a plane journey), I move back toward the gate lounge for my flight to London. I sneeze into my hand, and immediately clench my fist as if someone were trying to steal my lucky marble. Then, searching the eyes of my fellow passengers and eventually holding the stare of one, I stuff my hand inside my overalls and wipe furiously. Now I’ve got the added issue of a pocket lined with phlegm to deal with. But I reason that, over the next 11-hour flight, it should dry and all I’ll have to do is scrape the phlegm crystals from my pocket with a butter knife when I get to Berlin.
I really am regretting not packing the tissues my mother was trying to force on me.

Our gate isn’t even open for boarding yet and people are already jostling at the front of a long queue. It’s not musical chairs… We’ve all got a seat number, right?
Snake-skin pants walks past me. I think he winked. No biggie.
Starting to think I took my Valium too early. After only one 8-hour flight I’m guessing the long haul is yet to come. I won’t arrive in Berlin for another 23 hours and I’m not sure watching Amelie over and over again will keep me level.
Shit, I’ve left my headphones in the smoking lounge. My flight gets called. It’s ready to board.

I bolt. Dodging a group of 40-somethings huddled over a bottle of Chivas Regal the size of a whale’s penis. Zigzagging in and out of perfume sections, copping a hit of Dior, Klein and Old Maiden on the way through. My laptop jumping audibly in my bag, angry at its mistreatment. The wide-brimmed Panama I’d foolishly brought now partially crushed under my arm, its brim wilting more with every leap. Until, finally, I reach gate 17’s smoking lounge.
Clicking-lighter-man has my prized headphones in his hand.
“Thank you soooo much. I really appreciate it. Seriously, thank you.”
“Uhng.” He replies, with a nod.

Perhaps staying in the smoking lounge was his job.

I board the plane and immediately cop a fart to the mouth from a passing hostess. Then I remembered some wise words I received after enquiring about the rules of farting on planes: “Jungle law, dude, anything goes.”