I’m currently in my pajamas flying 35,000 feet above sea level.
Below me, all I can see are glacial sheets of white ice floating in the Arctic Ocean. I practically shiver just looking out the window. However, here in my fully-reclining airplane seat, it’s quite cozy. I’m drinking Bordeaux, flipping through magazines, and watching “The Departed” on my own private video screen. As I write this, a stewardess is asking me whether I want hot fudge or pineapple sauce on my Haagen Daaz Dulce de Leche ice cream sundae (FYI, the correct answer to this question is always “Yes!”)
Unfortunately, this is as good as it’s going to get.
Over the next 11 days, I’ll be traveling solo all over Asia for work. I’ll visit 7 cities, log more than 40 hours in the air, and spend most of my time worrying about the safety of the 25-year old death traps I’ll be flying in (I swear some of these planes used to be operated by People’s Express back in the 80’s.)
Along the way, I’ll fight sweltering crowds, try to navigate arbitrary flight schedules, argue with corrupt customs officials, berate cab drivers for ripping me off, and try to avoid having my luggage stolen by gangs of teenagers on mopeds. Glamorous, isn’t it?
When I was younger, I loved traveling solo like this to far-off distant places. I loved landing in a foreign country where I didn’t know a single person and didn’t speak the local language. The farther off the beaten path, the more I enjoyed it. Spending my vacation on a beach chair? Going on a cruise? Visiting museums in Europe? Fuck that! For the same price, I’d rather spend the week riding elephants in Sri Lanka, climbing Mt. Fuji, or exploring Outer Mongolia. The world is a big place and I want to see as much of it as possible before I die.
It's funny though. Back then, the biggest concerns I had about taking a long solo trip like this one were (1) who was going to tape “Dawson’s Creek” for me, (2) how would I get the scores of Mets games, and (3) were my plants going to die.
Now, that I’m married and have a child? Holy shit, I worry about everything!
In my mind (which is highly influenced by television and pop culture,) I can't help but think about all the possible things that could happen to me. I worry about my plane getting hijacked by terrorists dressed up in Elvis masks. I worry that the plane will crash in Siberia and I’ll have to eat my fellow passengers in order to survive.
Shit, I even worry about snakes on the motherfucking plane!
And after watching “24” two nights ago, I can now also add to my list of worries the fear that I’ll be tortured and held hostage by the Chinese government for two years!
(Speaking of “24,” isn’t it amazing how this show continues to appeal to both conservative Republicans AND liberal Democrats? Over the past year, I’ve heard both Dick Cheney and Barbara Streisand reference the show during speeches! This show has more cross-over appeal than the illegitimate love child of Barack Obama and John McCain.
By the way, could it be possible that Jack Bauer is a bigger bad-ass than ever? BossLady and I had Thai food delivered last night to coincide with the season premiere. The first 15 minutes were so gory that by the time Jack ate that dude’s neck, I was already choking on my pad thai.
One more thing…Does anyone besides me think that Kal "Kumar" Penn playing a Middle-Eastern character is the worst casting since David Carradine played Kwai Chang Caine in "Kung Fu?" Although it is fun to yell, "No matter what, dude, we are NOT ending this night without White Castle in our stomachs!" every time Kal Penn shows up onscreen trying to speak Farsi, there's something about casting an Indian dude in the role that ruffles my race feathers the wrong way.)
Shit. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, my fears and worries about traveling and being away from my beautiful wife and lovely daughter. Actually, upon further consideration, I'm not that worried. I think maybe the malaria medication is having a weird reaction with all the scotch.
To tell you the truth, my only semi-real fear is that the Peanut isn’t going to remember me when I get back. The kid’s memory seems to reset itself every two weeks. If you’re not around her constantly, she either forgets all about you or, even worse, she just pretends not to know you. Man, if after all this traveling, I returned home only to discover that the Peanut not only didn’t miss me but also had forgotten all about me, that would just fucking kill me.
Unless of course the Chinese or those motherfucking snakes don't get to me first!