I’m going back to St. Louis in a few weeks to be in Stephanie’s wedding, and all I can think about is how I need to find the time to get my dress altered and my hair cut (edited to add: appointment for haircut made!). Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m also thinking about whether or not Graham will remember to reserve a car to take us to the airport because our flight leaves early as balls and I am not catching a 4am bus, and I’m thinking about how no one has volunteered to pick us up from the airport, and I’m thinking about the only non-stress things, which are what I’m going to read and which hoodie I’m going to wear on the plane.
These are the two best things about air travel, in my opinion. Well. Unless you get upgraded to first class and get a free pre-takeoff drink, but that’s only happened once in my life and I’ve probably used up all of my airplane luck I’m going to get.
I’m thinking I’ll wear the super thin hoodie, by which I mean the super thin material hoodie and not the one that makes me look super thin. It’s about two sizes too big but it drapes like a very soft bedsheet (with a zipper!), so I’m less concerned about Old Navy’s online size charts because it’s so fucking comfy.
As far as books are concerned, I found Vonnegut’s “Jailbird” at the used bookstore last weekend and am forcing myself not to read it until I board. Also to be somehow avoided until the flight is the Neil Gaiman-edited story collection “Unnatural Creatures,” which I pre-ordered for my Kindle to be downloaded next week. I have no idea how I’m going to resist that one, or how I can possibly wait until June (June!) for his new novel, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.”
There are people who get on planes without books, you know. Even before smartphones were invented, they didn’t bring any sort of reading material. They just sat down, buckled in, and stared ahead for however many hours they were in the air. Some of them still do this, and while I’d love to imagine circus music on an endless loop in their heads, their facial expressions are far too blankly grim for to allow for that.
I’ve never boarded a plane without a book. And it’s always a book, okay, never a newspaper or magazine. Where’s the fun in those? How are you supposed to remain intent on a newspaper or a magazine for several hours, with those flimsy pages and crinkle noises and the glare from a glassy page bouncing off your eyeballs. Ugh. I choose books. But you can’t bring just any book on a plane.
Planes are for big books. Biographies are good, as are non-fiction funny ones like “Live From New York,” the SNL history I once read ¾’s of on the way from California to St. Louis. Murakami is excellent on planes, as your suspended-in-time-and-space situation is highly applicable to whatever crazy ethereal Japanese nonsense he’s going on about. Gaiman is best on trains (particularly trains at night) but more than serviceable on planes, and those Stephen King paperbacks aren’t in every airport bookstore for nothing. The Russians are too difficult a project for a plane, plus you run the chance of someone seeing you reading Dostoyevsky and thinking you’re an asshole, and while I like and am getting reacquainted with Twain, I find myself reading in what I imagine to be his voice (remember, I’m from Missouri, too) and the twang sometimes translates to my face as I’m reading, which looks unfortunate. Essay collections are good, criticism collections are not. Sci-fi is great if you’re into it. True crime is okay but can get disturbing depending on your seatmate, and, as someone who has laughed until she has snot-cried on a plane before, sometimes you want to be careful about the funny books.
Of course, none of this matters if you’re like Graham, who can fall asleep before the seatbelt light is off and will stay that way unless I wake him up because he’s snoring. This is the travel trait of which I’m most envious, along with the ability to fit a carry-on into any overhead space and not have an internal gut freakout over exactly how quick you can de-plane once you’ve landed.
You’re lucky I read books on planes. Otherwise, you’d be my seatmate and I’d force you to listen to this.