And It Was Blueberry Too...

Not too long ago I flew for the first time in my almost 40 year old (at the time) life. It's not that I was too afraid of flying to try it, on the contrary, I was very much looking forward to having the chance one day. Which is odd, considering I am absolutely terrified of even the slightest measure of height to the point of needing a handful of strong tranquilizers washed down with a bottle of any hard liquor available in order to cope with the screaming. The problem was always that the opportunity to travel and the funds to do so never seemed to have time for one another.

And when I finally took my maiden air voyage, I took note of every detail of the momentous occasion. My trusty guide was next to me and not completely feeling the same level of excitement. Apparently this feeling was reserved for the far less experienced souls. He had too many flights under his belt to be moved. However, I knew he enjoyed the fact that I was very much in awe of the whole experience.

While we waited for our flight to be called I compared everyone waiting with us in the terminal to the characters of Lost. I wondered if we were to crash on an island who would be our Kate, our Jack and of course our Sawyer. Who would be the Sayid or the Charlie and my absolute favorite, Hurley. Looking around it seemed I would have to be Hurley. Dude.

Once we boarded I felt my happiness wane. Seems the air conditioning on the plane had not yet kicked in and the temperature inside had reached a balmy 87 degrees. That coupled with 50 people packed in the area the size of a doctor's waiting room with chairs just as small and no personal space to be found anywhere, it was just a tad stuffy. I began to feel nauseous.

I tried to keep my mind off the heat with some more people watching. The sound of the air conditioner vent overhead attempting to make life more bearable was laughable as it seemed to be motored by an engine from a remote control car.

Just then a group of 5 or 6 young men boarded the plane, they were laughing and teasing one another with amicable insults. I gathered that one of the guys was along for his first flight as well. And unlike me, he was scared. And as friends tend to do, they were taking the opportunity to milk it for all it was worth.

To the left of us across the aisle was an older gentleman in a suit. He was reading a book written in what looked to be Chinese. I am almost certain it was a bible. Perhaps that's just what I wanted it to be.

The guy in front of us made small talk with the young lady next to him. He was older and sleazy like a character you would see on CSI: Las Vegas. You know the suspect trying to play it cool all the while he has a fine sheen of sweat on his greasy brow which is a dead give away to the interrogator that this guy was his for the picking. The girl reminded me of a someone who had been far from home far too long. She was dressed goth but she didn't have the dark sullen attitude. Perhaps she had faced some demons that took the attitude down a notch or two. She was polite to him. He was way too close to her.

Finally and I mean finally, the Captain announced we were about to take off. At least I assumed that's what he said because I only heard something mumbled over the speaker which reminded me of a drive-thru order being repeated back to me. No fries for me thanks, I am kind of queasy.

We taxied. We took off. We flew. I looked out the peephole that served as my window as best I could without causing serious nerve damage to my neck. It was all so beautiful.

Until we got to Detroit. Apparently Detroit was experiencing the thunderstorm from hell. For reasons unbeknownst to me the pilot went straight through the storm. I had always thought they were supposed to go around the storm by changing their flight plan or maybe land in another city. Or perhaps I watch too much tv. I guess he had his Wheaties that morning and was feeling rather confident about his piloting skills. Not me. I began to feel the fear rise in my throat like one too many tacos.

I repeatedly and I mean numerously asked my trusty guide if this was normal, did this always happen? Are you always tossed about like delicates in a dryer? And each time he assured me that yes, at times it can be pretty bumpy, and yes this was pretty much normal. His confidence and assurances did nothing to loosen my pit bull grip around his hand or remove my nails from his flesh.

It wasn't until we drove away from the airport terminal in our nice little rental that he confessed that this flight was - in the history of his hundreds of air travel experiences - the worst turbulence ever.

Of course. Why wouldn't it be anything less than the makings of a cheesy disaster movie?

When our plane finally did touch the blessed earth every single passenger on the plane was completely and utterly silent. No one chatted, no one coughed, no one whispered. No babies cried. We simply stood and gathered our things.

Then out of the silence came a voice. One filled with a shaky courage. This voice spoke to each of our souls. The words he uttered were magical - in one instant melted the icy fear that had frozen our countenances. It was not our Captain. Oh no, this came from within the circle. It was none other than the fearful young man, who like me, had just endured his very first mid-air heart attack, er, flight.

He said,

"So uh, so uh, the muffin stayed down eh."

Laughter. Relief. Release. We had made it. Sure each of us had considered the very small paper bag that was tucked in the seat in front of us with all its implications. Each of us had eyed the tiny compartment from which our oxygen would drop, wondering if if would come to that. Each of us had faced our own mortality and lived to see another day. And the muffin stayed down.

Our business taken care of we returned home to our kids. And the first story I shared with them regarding my virgin flight was the muffin.

To this day it is a catchphrase used in our home to signify we had made it through whatever. Another trial faced and finished, the muffin stayed down. One more battle fought and won, no one tossed their muffins.

And why am I telling you this story? It is that very catchphrase that comes to mind when I think about trying to explain the year that was 2007.

It was, at times very rough seas and several times I nearly slipped off the boat into the treacherous waters. Once or twice we nearly capsized. There were days we had to bail water to stay afloat, but we made it.

Muffin intact.


  1. Oh, I love this story. Here's one for you:

    As part of my work, I used to have to fly back and forth to London on a regular basis. On one of my journeys home a man and his wife sat beside me. He was very obviously very nervous, he kept fixing the baseball cap he was wearing and twiddling with the air vent - all this before we had even taken off!

    His wife leant across to me and apologised for him, explaining that it was only his second ever flight, the first being the trip over a couple of days before.

    He didn't relax any after take-off, but all went OK until the co-pilot came on and welcomed us all on board the flight on behalf of himself and our Captain, Jane Smith.

    Instantaneously my neighbour paled and screamed 'For fecks (polite version) sake! Who let a woman drive this thing?'

  2. PS

    I'm really glad your muffin stayed down!

  3. Ali,
    That is hilarious! And awesome, you don't hear of many female pilots. I hope he ate some crow pie...

    Thanks! I am glad myself...

  4. He was sort of beyond crow pie. So I just very quietly said into his ear that in some hospitals, they even let women perform surgery


  5. Good for you Ali! I would have been so mad at his chauvinism, I wouldn't have thought of a good comeback!

  6. wow, we certainly have a lot in common. i'm so afraid of heights, i don't even like being this tall. and hurly is my absolute favorite hands down!

  7. Wow- what an adventure on your virgin trek :-P
    I seriously can't remember my first flight- I was probably around 3 & my folks were divorced, living in separate states- so I was back & forth every year.
    I like the muffin analogy- very apt :-)

  8. Love it! 2007 was like that for me too.

  9. Here's to 2008 and a year to savour every sweet mouthful of life. (If the muffin feels like its on the way back up again, remember that at least it probably tasted good when it first went down!)

    A few years ago,after a particularly bumpy flight, the flight attendant announced as we arrived at the gate to, "Take care when opening the overhead lockers as the contents may fall out and cause lawsuits."


and remember, words are my love language...