Across the Pond


Fortunately, I was wise enough to pick an aisle seat.
The law of absurd occurrences kicked in when I booked my flight; I picked an aisle seat in the middle row.  So, of course, the other three men planted to my right were all slightly bigger than I am (and I’m no menehune at 6’3″ tall and 205 lbs).  My immediate neighbor had shoulders wider than mine and occupied about 2/5 of my seat.  Contorting my spine and clavicles to squeeze in was something out of a bad mash-up of a Zucker Brothers comedy and low-budget body horror movie.
Oh, I neglected my carry-on luggage.  I was flying in a 747-8…but I had to walk ten rows forward to find an overhead bin that was empty enough for my carry on bags.
Now we return to the aforementioned body horror movie involving me using black magic to twist my bones to fit into 3/5 of a seat.
The gentlemen next to me–none of them were fat.  We were just four large men crammed into a space designed to contain a handful of subatomic particles…and all us practiced excellent personal hygiene (bonus!!).
They were all very good sports, so their company was not offensive.  It’s just been a while since I had the chance to get so quasi-intimately close to a set of complete strangers.  I think the last time was boot camp in 1997 when 80 of us crammed into an open-bay shower designed for 20 men (we got smart very quickly and created a rotation so we all weren’t trying to shower at once).
Another “of course” kicked in because, of course, my seat’s head-set plug was not working terribly well and my touch-controlled screen required me to take some quick boxing lessons in order to use enough pressure for it to react.
Lufthansa will bill me later to replace it (kidding!).
Holding my headphone jack in at the exactly the right angler allowed me to watch “Kubo and the Two Strings” and “Suicide Squad” before finally putting on my IPod (Mozart violin concertos) and going to sleep…halfway cuddled into my neighbor.   There was simply no avoiding it; his mass created a gravitational force that pulled me into orbit.
I love 747s.  They are of the greatest aircraft ever built…after my beloved F-14 Tomcats, of course!  The best moment of the flight is a toss-up between the engines starting and feeling the lady running headlong so she can lift her wheels and dive into the atmosphere.
When I used to work on F-14s long ago, one of my best memories was hearing those incredible GE F110-400 engines light off.  The starter unit would whine with a high buzz…and suddenly you’d feel a subsonic roar rattle your soul as the engines lit and begin to spin up to full power.  The most incredible single experience I had with this was one day in 2002 at NAS Oceana.  I was operating a hand-pump, topping off hydraulic fluid, and was right next to the engine nacelle as the jet’s portside engine ignited like some miniature supernovae on the tarmac.
Only those who have experienced a the religious ecstasy of seeing angels descend and dance upon the head of a pin can understand what it is to stand next to such controlled and uninhibited power.
Sitting in a darkened 747-8 with its giant General Electric GEnx-2B67B engines…you can hear and feel them almost as distinctly as my memory of that Tomcat…even from inside the cabin.  It is the roar of a lady ready to leave the the ground, a lady destined to swim through the night air under the stars…a lady who wishes to dance across the world with undeniable ease and uninhibited grace.

I am currently sitting in the Frankfurt International Airport in Germany enjoying a cafe au lait after having demolished the most delicious ham-and-cheddar panini ever known to man.   It’s nearly freezing outside.  Cloudy and damp.  I’m watching them de-ice the aircraft.  Naples will be nearly 60 degrees and sunny.
More later.  Time to sit back and enjoy my coffee with an Agatha Christie mystery.  I’ve got only three books left in the 30-odd book series she did of her most famous detective, Hercule Poirot.  I think I’ve figured out the murderer in “Hallowe’en Party” already.  However, so far I have only figured out one of these correctly; I’m 1 for nearly 29 right now.  Ironically enough, the only one I have so far figured out before her big reveal was her most famous book, “Murder on the Orient Express.”
Coffee and murder…and good morning in Germany!

(I apologize for the lack of paragraph spacing; my current internet connection seems averse to proper formatting!)

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