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Singled Out: Fear of Flying

Singled Out: Fear of Flying

Entertainment publicist Mona Elyafi bemoans airplane travel, save for a certain trip back from Paris when lesbian love was in bloom.

The commercials for Airline companies that all collectively rave about the many extraordinary pleasures of flying under their wings fail to reveal on TV the real conditions under which passengers will endure this alleged exceptional experience in the sky. I learned over my last recent airport escapade that the only thing that is indeed veritably true is how traveling is not just primitively ordinary, but very much "extra" ordinary -- as in "I can't fucking believe it - is this for real?"

And in case anyone still doubts, I can confidently confirm that no matter what final destination awaits you, the voyage will absolutely be out of this world.  And I use "world" in the literal sense of the word because surely no other places on earth, not even any of the Third World countries, objectively come close in comparison to the hellish ordeal traveling by plane has gradually morphed into.

Evidently they don't show us the part where they charge us an additional $15 for the right to travel with a suitcase - because obviously it is too far fetched to think that passengers might possibly want to journey with some clothes and toiletry items. They also don't show us how amazingly fun and pleasant it is to stand in line for hours to get through airport security for the exciting "who is a terrorist?" strip down session - precautionary measures that absolutely do not make me feel any safer. Next time, I'm seriously considering traveling in my bare necessities just to save myself the unnecessary hassle.

Of course, they also don't show us how they jack up their airfares blaming it on the high cost of gas while simultaneously packing the planes and adding a row of seats to increase revenue to the detriment of leg room - because surely we're all dying to pay more money to travel in the most inconvenient and uncomfortable fashion. They don't show us as well how they now charge $5 for a shitty microscopic tasteless meal, another $4 for a soda or hot beverage. Double that amount for an alcoholic collation, and $2 for the headphones to watch the dumb-ass movie that more than likely we've already seen.

What's next?  I wouldn't be surprised if sooner than later we'll be charged an extra fee for the right to use the freaking lavatory, or the AC, or the reading light above the seat, or perhaps for the simple right to lift up the window-shade for the privilege of a view.

The one thing all these airline companies collectively do right is thank us at the end of each flight for choosing to fly with them. They're obviously very much aware of what they make us suffer through and acknowledging it is certainly the minimum respectful mark of politeness and the very least they can do. Perhaps they're just afraid one of us might finally wake up and have the brilliant, genial idea to sue them for false advertising - or perhaps more appropriately, for the illegal use of torture -- in which case, they know they'd lose their jobs in a heartbeat.

Talking about false advertising, I personally would like to know exactly what airplane these seemingly euphorically happy people on my TV screen have boarded because it certainly wasn't me last Wednesday when I flew back from Dallas to LA.

To say that my flight was no fancy Club Med vacation in the sky is putting it mildly.
I was the lucky one who got to spend the duration of the trip - an estimated three hours - trapped in the center seat, sandwiched between a Notorious BIG look-alike who evidently didn't believe in the rewards of a product called "deodorant," and an old lady who seemed very much inspired and predisposed to sustain a conversation for a solid 180 minutes without a pause to catch her breath. I won't even mention the psychopath behind me who sporadically and very dementedly kept kicking my seat to protest against the fact that I had elected to exercise the only onboard luxury feature left namely, reclining my seat - which in all actuality doesn't tilt too far back.


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Thank god I'm only claustrophobic when I think about not having an escape and being trapped in uncomfortably narrow and airless spaces! Believe you me, as much of a bitch as I can proudly be in a normal environment, no one wants me awake on a plane. It is a much safer place for all the passengers, the flight attendants and the pilot alike, to have me on sleep mode. And not to brag, but I am extremely confident that my body language safely gives everyone the universal heads-up as soon as I step foot on the plane. I automatically put on my highly annoyed and very hostile facial expression and move to my assigned seat with an intimidating "don't dare talk to me" pace.

I know I am a royal insupportable pain in the ass but I need a minimum buffer zone to survive in the herd. And let's be real, what can possibly be gained by engaging in a temporary dialogue with some perfect stranger that chances are you'll never see again once on land? It's like playing "Press Your Luck" - big bucks, no whammies, STOP! If there's an exception to that rule then the odds of it happening are less than 1 percent, and needless to say, I've already used up my lucky card.

The last time I flew back home to Paris, about a decade ago, something terribly unusual happened to me: I totally broke down my guards and unexpectedly cave into the persistent efforts of this anonymous passenger sitting to my right who was dedicatedly determined to have me break my code of silence.  I don't quite remember what triggered the lifting of the veil on my end but it sure did help that she was blessed with striking good looks. She surely made the last two hours of the 14-hour trip fly like a breeze, which in retrospect had me regret not being responsive to her solicitation earlier.

Long story short, I got to spend the entirety of my stay discovering why the rest of the planet unanimously dubs Paris the "City of Love."  Simply put, it was the sum mum of romance!

We spent each day strolling along the many impressively glorious boulevards, gazing at the many historical monumental landmarks, indulging in the best culinary feast ever known to mankind, taking caffeine breaks alternatively at the famed "Les Deux Magots" and "Café de Flore" on Boulevard St Germain in the trendy Latin Quarter, wandering aimlessly through the stunning Luxembourg Gardens, and retreating at night in her quaint and cozy, "Haussman-style" stereotypical Parisian petite love nest in the 2nd arrondissement within vicinity of the Musee du Louvre.

I certainly couldn't have asked for a better French connection!
What can I say, evidently I had no idea how little of Paris I actually knew - obviously I had criminally taken the City of Lights for granted the entire 16 years I resided in the prestigious Capital.

Ironically it took a woman to make me fall in love with THE ultimate most beautiful woman of all women - the one who epitomizes the definition of unconditional love, elegance, sophistication and beauty ad infinitum; the one who's always been there for me and will always be: PARIS.

The point I am trying to make is that in the big scheme of things it essentially doesn't really matter how I get there as long as I get there.

And as a pain in the ass as traveling has absolutely become, ultimately it's the destination, not the voyage that counts!

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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