Into the West

Hope fades, every time I fly UnitedOther people may go in for the carols and egg nog and New Year’s Eve kiss and all that. My favorite part of the holidays is right now: when I get to complain about my flight home.

To start with, a question: what could an infant less than a year old possibly gain from a trip to San Francisco? He’s too young to get anything pierced, he’s going to have a tough time digesting sourdough, he doesn’t know how to use a bong, he’s way too young to start experimenting with his sexuality, and it’s just useless excess to take him on the bridge or on a trolley ride — babies are stupid, so you could push them around in a grocery cart and tell them it’s a painstakingly-restored vintage cable car, and they’d believe you.

So why would anybody want to take a baby onto an airplane and sit him right behind me and let him scream in my ear for four straight hours? So the relatives can see him? It’s 2007; that’s what flickr and webcams are for. DVDs have such capacity that you could record four straight hours of the little angel screaming away about nothing and send it to the folks. And here’s the cool part: I would be able to get some sleep.

I don’t know; maybe my whole perspective will change when/if I ever have kids. But speaking as a single guy with no obligations and the uncanny knack for always being seated directly in front of a screaming infant every single flight I take over 1 hour, I vote for a strict leave-the-kids-at-home-until-they’re-at-least-one policy.

Apart from that, there was the obese woman wearing about 8 layers of crocheted outergarments who sat in the middle seat and took both armrests the entire flight, while doing sudoku and crossword puzzles in the in-flight magazine while chatting about how great Helen Mirren was in The Queen. But she wouldn’t have annoyed me if I hadn’t been up for the last 24 hours straight.

Getting a flight back east for Christmas for less than 900 bucks meant that I had to stop over in Chicago on the way back. Once I got there, I was seriously tempted to skip my flight back to SFO and just wander around the city for a couple of days. I’ve never been there outside the airport, I’ve always heard it’s a cool place to see, and I’ve always wanted to see that Georges Seurat painting.

But I started thinking that it’d be stupid to wander around any completely unfamiliar city with no luggage and no idea where to go, especially Chicago in January. Considering I’ve been gone a while and still have a lot of work to do out here, I think ultimately I made the right decision. But the entire flight back I kept thinking about how close I’d come to escaping, only to abandon that freedom and head right back through the security gate.