You're going to think I'm making this up but I swear it's all true
I won’t bore you with my vacation slides, but the trip was great, of course, because it was the U.K. and I love no place on Earth more. We drove all the way west to Tintagel one day and all the way east to Dover another, both places I had not been before. Glorious. Bitter freaking cold, as they’re having a wretched winter that won’t let go, but glorious nonetheless.
But you don’t care about that.
So let me reward you for hanging around through the dull first paragraph with an incredible tale. Believe it or not, the perfect U.K. Trip Blog Topic roared into view before my flight from DFW even left the ground.
To set the scene, we traveled both ways on the lovely Boeing 777, she of the personal video choices and expansive glory. The day we left was the Thursday before spring break, so the flight was packed to the 777’s capacity of whatever that is—like 2 million passengers or something. The rows in this aircraft run two seats, five seats, then two seats; my son and husband had seats A and B while I had seat C in the same row, leaving an aisle between me and them and a stranger directly to my right. And oh, my friends, what a stranger!
I still can’t believe my luck, for even though I’m unabashedly nosy I usually ignore strangers in situations like this. For one thing, it’s way too easy to pick up a Belial, and a nine hour flight with a Belial represents a special level of hell. (I always end up sitting next to the stranger, too, because Mike hates and fears them while I am merely indifferent to them, and the vehemence of his feelings trumps the tepidity of mine.) Anyway, I am SO glad I didn’t crawl into my headphones and novel immediately this time, because the dude who sat next to me was AWESOME.
I was seated before he got there, so of course I had to get up to let him by, about which he was exceedingly polite, I must say, and I registered without thinking about it that he was not much taller than I (I’m 5’8”), darkly tanned in a self-conscious kind of way, a dedicated proponent of hair gel, and—again in the interest of authorial integrity I give him his due—wearing nice shoes. Then a pretty young woman showed up to take the seat on the other side of him. We both got up to let her by, etc. The two of them started a conversation very quickly, establishing that they both had spouses in England (his wife is English and her husband is stationed there for some kind of military job) and trading reasons for being on this flight in particular.
My first hint of how much these people were destined to amuse me then arrived in the form of a hysterical conversation establishing how in the world people as fabulous as they ended up flying coach. Ha! They went on and on, talking over each other in their eagerness to justify it: “I mean, it’s just stupidly expensive for what you get, you know? And unless you, like, have to attend a business meeting the moment you get there and thus need to be well rested there’s just no reason to waste all that money when it’s not that much better in Business Class!”
It gets better. You see, according to Mr. Man, he was returning from Peru, where he had been filming a special for Discovery about surviving in the jungle. In fact, he had almost lost his little finger during production (from her exclamation I assume he showed her a gruesome finger wound at this point in the narrative, but I didn’t dare sneak a look because I was already dangerously close to exploding in rude guffaws) because he had caught a baby alligator and was trying to decide if he should eat it but decided not to eat it after all since he was having such great success catching fish by poisoning a pond with roots he had located and dug for this purpose. The fish then just float right to the top, you know? He had released the baby alligator when, out of nowhere, a huge anaconda appeared and grabbed the alligator in its powerful jaws! (I know! I couldn’t make this shit up!) For reasons he did not deign to explain, he began wrestling the anaconda (to save the alligator he himself caught for food?) and nearly lost his finger in the epic battle that lasted at least twenty minutes.
I would like to remind readers that my flight had not yet left the ground while I was enjoying this fantastic load of bullshit. The trip was already worth every penny before takeoff!
He talked at her all night (this was the overnight flight to Gatwick that I always end up on) and I never figured out if she was really eating up this garbage or if she was indulging him for some reason. Maybe she’s a blogger too? Just before we landed I saw him putting away a copy of Bill Bryson’s latest book and politely said, “I really like his stuff,” to which he responded, so awesomely, with, “Well, my wife is making me read this and I haven’t gotten into it yet. I’ve been working on it for like three flights now, where normally I read two books a flight, you know. I understand he’s real popular over there but I just haven’t been able to get into it.” Two books a flight! It was like a little bonus parting gift. Two books, people. Stand in awe.
My family and I had a great time later amusing ourselves with images of the Master of Peru presenting the vanquished mass of an anaconda in one mighty (four-fingered) hand while the other cradled the baby alligator suckling at his breast, a bounty of poisoned guppies littering the ground around his designer loafers.
What a great vacation.