Home in the dark, snow, rain and wind

By Carolyn Marsh | Jan 09, 2010

The Maine State Legislature is contemplating putting a warning on cell phones that they might cause brain cancer. This would be a first. I'm not sure what to make of the fact that the only other state that is considering the same thing is California. There are some issues in which it would be nice to see Maine paired with California -- weather, for instance -- but cancer warnings on cell phones is not one of them. How about a warning that using cell phones when you drive is demonstrably dangerous? There is a lot more evidence that using a cell behind the wheel is deadly than that it could cause cancer. I know Mainers like to think of themselves as weird and original but this seems to me to be going too far.

There was an article in the newspaper a few days ago about a study some professors with, apparently, nothing better to do had made that ranked Maine 10th in a list of the states (including the District of Columbia) whose inhabitants felt they were happy. New York, by the way, came in 51st, followed (or led) closely by Connecticut at 50 (well, they did elect Joe Lieberman senator) and New Jersey at 49. On the other hand, Maine is preceded in the happiness scale by, among others, Louisiana (1), Mississippi (6) and Alabama (9). I will only mention the old saw that ignorance is bliss.

I am grateful that the more stringent airline security regulations had not gone into full effect when I flew back from Philadelphia to Portland the day after Christmas. Having made the same trip in the other direction the day before Christmas, I knew the airplane was quite small -- plenty of legroom, oddly enough, but overhead bins about the size of a gnome home, so I didn't check my luggage for $20 but carried it as far as the jetway where it was gate-checked for free because it wouldn't fit overhead. For a mere $5 extra (what can you buy for $5 these days?) I had gotten myself a window seat at the front of the plane. I suspected trouble when I saw an incredibly large young man sitting in my window seat. "Do you want to sit on the aisle?" he asked hopefully. "No," I replied, "I spent $5 to sit by the window, and if you don't hop I'll be sick on you."

Did I mention that the plane was two hours late leaving Philadelphia (late leaving Ottawa, but never mind telling the passengers in Philly)? And that the vaguely uneasy queasy feeling I'd had before I left for the airport had resolved itself into a full-blown stomach flu? All I wanted to do was lean up against the window and go to sleep. Vain hope, but that's another story. As the oaf transferred himself from my seat to his seat I couldn't help noticing that he had carried on a duffel bag so big that it wouldn't have fit in a regular-sized overhead compartment. He'd stood it upright between his legs and put his jacket over it but it wouldn't have fooled anyone, even someone from Louisiana.

"That's not staying there," I said loudly. Well, I won't reproduce our spirited exchange (as spirited as you can be when you‘re afraid you're going to be awfully sick the very next second), but he finally signaled to the flight attendant -- "I'll make your day," he said as he waved his hand -- and she carried it away. (Though how she missed it when he carried it on I do not know -- well, does anything surprise us these days? Did you read about the man who went the wrong way through a one-way door and shut down Newark Airport for a day and a half? Was he from Louisiana?)

In any event I huddled into the little space his enormous bulk left me and tried to sleep. I thought a glass of Coke without ice might settle my stomach. I was sitting there with my hand cupped around the glass (well, paper cup, but I didn't want to use "cup" twice, and now I've used it three times) when I felt something spreading all over my lap and awakened from a brief, but evidently not brief enough, catnap to find that my hand had relaxed and there was Coke all over me. And my seatmate.

If I'd been able to crawl under the seat I would have. But I just had to brazen it out. "So sorry," I said, as he trotted off to the lavatory to wipe the Coke off his pants. Well, if he hadn't been intruding in my space he wouldn't have been in the way of my Coke. The nice though myopic flight attendant helped me clean myself up, and I tried to feel sorry for Oaf when I saw how long he had to wait for his bag. But I couldn't.

Driving home in the dark through the snow and rain and wind with a testy stomach was something I have tried not to think about since it happened. Whatever I had laid me pretty low for a week but I feel better now. And I hope Oaf got the Coke out of his pants.

 

 

 

 

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