Monday 10 May 2010


I have been a mistress for years in a very bad relationship. (I knew that would get your attention...Sensationalists!). It wasn’t always bad, in fact in the beginning it was all the things it should be: exciting, romantic, inspiring…and moreover, easy. But in the last few years, things have gone rapidly downhill, and yet, I simply can’t let go.

NO I’m not talking about another man (calm down Mom); my turbulent relationship (pun of course intended) has been with air travel, and admittedly it’s a relationship that needs some major reevaluating.

We started off so good too. From when I was young, I was fortunate enough to travel quite frequently with my family. Airports were this place of utter wonder, the lines were nonexistent, you could take anything you wanted on the plane, keep your clothes on as you skipped through security, and the lounges – oh the lounges! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We would load up our ‘activity bags’ – we were too young for purses – with every conceivable snack we could see like a pack of wild kleptomaniacs. Once on the plane, the stewardess looked like something out of 1950’s film – their hair coiffed just so, their smiles white and sparkling as they greeted you with a drink and warm nuts. And the best part, they actually seemed to care you were on the plane. Maybe it was because we were young and my demands included a coloring book and refills on my virgin Bloody Mary’s – don’t ask, I started this tradition of drinking virgin Mary’s while flying from when I was small. It should have warned me what was to come in my teenage years!

And then, like any good relationship, over time things started to change. At first it happened very slowly. The lines at the airport became longer and more unruly. I would often find myself showing up hours early like some desperate teenager, just to combat the unavoidable chaos... And the stewardesses, well they were no longer visions of perfection. Over the years they had morphed into polyester wearing anger magnets with power issues that were bound to come your way as soon as the wheels lifted. And the warm nuts? Screw your nuts. Now you were lucky if you got something ingestible at all. ‘And that will be five fifty please!'...'but it's just water?’ And of course then there were the letdowns, the cancellations, and minor delays due to the unforeseen. It’s apparently always 'unforeseen' in the airline business. This should’ve been a clue that we as a couple were no longer in our honeymoon phase.

But I was roped into staying by the sheer perks of travel, i.e. actually getting to your desired location – which is hard to give up when one’s family lives in several different countries. And of course the airports were smart. They beefed up their shopping and food areas to tantalize and fool you into placation. It was like a mirage in the desert that sucked you in to this vortex of pointlessness – ‘do I really need a fifth of vodka and sixteen magazines? Wait, I don’t even drink. Something doesn’t feel right here. Oh screw it, make it two bottles!’

And then 911 occurred. And I don’t need to explain how that affected things. Suddenly my relationship went from bad to worse. I was treated with suspicion and virtually strip-searched every time I walked through security. Merely carrying a tube of Vaseline was reason to call in the rabid dogs! And the excuses, well they came fast and furious. Letdowns became ritualistic – to the point where if I stepped inside the airport my flight was guaranteed to be delayed at least three hours. Where had the love gone, seriously, where went the love!

This last Christmas, it got so bad that I swore we were over. That’s it, finito! I was trying to fly to Italy to see my sister, and due to weather (the wily mother in law in this relationship!) I was stuck in the airport for three days. Mind you I was also three months pregnant, sick as a dog, and quickly turned into a raging lunatic when it came dealing with the airline staff. My only defense, we were collectively being treated like dirt and had formed this lynch mob of sorts that were determined to fight for justice and dignity!...I finally had to fly into another country and take a five-hour train to my destination. So much for justice.

This is when I knew, I was a mistress and this relationship had turned downright abusive. But the fact is, air travel knows I won’t leave him. He knows I’ll stay because getting on those planes is the only way I can see my family, and furthermore the world. And for that I’ll do just about anything. So now I fly equipped, screw him, I’ll take back the power. I wear slip on shoes that I can fling off at security at a moment’s notice, I bring my own food, I buy my appropriately sized liquid at the designated area, and delays, well I have a new lover now – hear THAT airtravel!! – it’s called a laptop. And we can sit for hours entertaining one another. So you see, I may still be a sucker, but I’m a crafty sucker. That’s got to count for something.

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