Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Secret Ingredient

Okay, the Edinburgh story is a long one, so I will write that one another day. For now, I give you...The Secret Ingredient: What Is In My Airplane Food?

When David and I had been married for three years, we decided to head across the pond and visit the lands of our ancestors. We sailed around Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales, and Channel Island (which is half England, half France) for a week and a half. You may or may not have read the story of the Irish Thimble, our adventure on Channel Island. If you haven't, you can read it here.

It was a WONDERFUL trip. I can't wait to go back. It was hard to leave. But, I heart America and I'm pretty sure someone would come after us if we didn't get home to pay the bills. Well, I dunno. CAN they come after you?

I'll tell you first, coming back into America is like coming back into America. In Amsterdam, we were interrogated for about two hours...together and then separately. We were asked the same questions to make sure they matched up. Where did we meet. How long had we known each other. What was each others' middle names. What color eyes did we have. Seriously. But, I can understand and it made me feel safe knowing everyone else better know their stuff or have a pretty good reason for carrying a black duffel bag that ticked.

On the flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta, we were OF COURSE seated right behind a group of college-age Chinese students. I'm not sure if they were foreign exchange students or just traveling. They didn't speak English, because the stewardess asked some questions and they said, "No English." They were very friendly, just very loud. It was a long flight. And they wanted to play cards the entire time. They also brought their own food, which they asked the stewardess to warm up for them. She wasn't super happy about it, but did it anyway. They brought sushi and noodles and some kind of soup. WHO EATS SOUP ON A PLANE? Whatever. David and I didn't bring our buffet with us, so we opted for the in-flight meal: crap with a side of crap. But, it was edible and warm and had a pallet of butter, so...

I lowered my tray table from its locked and upright position, set my "meal" down, and peeled back the plastic wrap. I was pretty hungry, so I dug right in.

David was seated behind an adorable student with a cute bob that swished every which way whenever she laughed. I was seated behind a lanky, awkward kid with thick glasses and buzzed hair. Their card game got more intense and global. It now involved other students in the seats across the aisle. They got louder and more frantic as their points raised and lowered with each hand. Actually, I don't know what they were playing, I'm just assuming it had points. David's girl–we'll call her Gabriel–snickered, her hair flying everywhere. My guy–we'll call him Stephen–"Dooooooh!!"ed Homer Simpson-style, raised his hands in the air, covered his eyes in shame, and laughed. I don't care what language you speak...that's universal for, "I just got owned." Then, Stephen would throw his head back onto his headrest, shaking my tray and my food, mainly my drink. It was like earthquake aftershocks and I'd just hold onto everything and wait for it to subside. This went on for about 20 minutes. Stephen would lose a hand, throw his head back onto the headrest and laugh. Sometimes he'd roll his head around on the headrest in disbelief at his misfortune. At least he was being a good sport about losing. I'd hold my stuff until he went forward again and I'd keep on eating.

I leaned toward my tray at one point to resituate the butter on my roll (that butter was good, y'all) and I noticed something in Stephen's hair. I leaned closer. Stephen leaned forward to look at his cards, then propelled his head back onto his headrest and I got a better look. It was white, but transparent, and flaky...GASP...dandruff! At that moment, Stephen rolled his head around again and what happened next will haunt me for the rest of my life...Dandruff flakes fluttered down ever so softly from Stephen's jet-black hair...directly. into. my. food.

I'm going to give you a moment to let that sink in.

I pushed my food away. I pushed my drink away. I pushed my butter with roll away. I had been eating this the whole time. David graciously switched seats with me because I couldn't look at Stephen's head anymore. I had a bottle of Germ-X with me (within the limit of airline policy) and I drank that. I tried to sleep for the remaining 7 hours, but I was attacked by giant flakes of scalp skin in my dreams.

It took me about 13 weeks total to fully recover from what happened that day. I don't know that I'll ever be the same, though.

In case you're wondering...yes, ingesting bits of Stephen has changed me physically, too. I now have the powers of a ninja.


  1. Totally went through the interrogation session in Amsterdam about two weeks ago, on the way back from Kenya! I think they asked what I had for breakfast. On the plane from Nairobi. It was chicken. Or pasta. Cause those were the only two choices no matter what time zone we were in at the moment. Or butter.

  2. Oh my gosh, I'm sitting in a waiting room and trying not to die laughing. That's so gross. I'm pretty sure I would've gagged repeatedly.

  3. Not that it was NEARLY as gross as foreign dandruff, but when we were flying home from Madrid, I ate some vegetarian lasagna that was so horrible that I still gag when I think about it. Plane food is always so sick. Although I did have this awesome tortellini on a flight into Rome. Anyway, my heart goes out to you. That really is one of the grossest thins I've ever heard. Also, I miss you.

  4. i literally have NO words for how nasty that is. i am currently eating lunch and i feel like there are phantom dandruff flakes in my food.


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