I take a short flight from Boston to Philadelphia, then a long one from Philadelphia to Barcelona. 2p2’er 10K-in-Clay is on this flight and has told me I should be able to recognize him because he’ll be with his purple-haired girlfriend. I introduce myself briefly, agree to split a cab with them in Barcelona, then board the plane.
While waiting to take off, I flip through some Barcelona books I bought or took out of the library, and learn some interesting facts.
Cultural Lesson One: Barcelona is a city of thieves. All Barcelonans should be presumed to be pickpockets and petty criminals until proven otherwise. No belongings should be allowed out of my sight, and anything slightly important or valuable should be stapled to my person so that it cannot be swiped by teenage hoodlums on mopeds.
Cultural Lesson Two: Barcelona loves [censored]. Seriously. Taking a good [censored] is practically the official sport of the city. At Christmas time, a typical creche in Barcelona will include the standard figurines for donkeys, three wise men, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and also an unknown peasant taking a squat in the manger.
New Vocabulary Acquired: “Cafe solo” = strong black coffee, no milk or sugar
“Comte” = check, as in the bill from a restaurant.
This is one of the larger jets I’ve been on, with three columns of seats, and the best I could get on late notice was an aisle on the central column. Just across the aisle from me is a rather old couple, and the man seems to be in a sour mood, frustrated with something his wife has done. She seems like a sweet old woman who does not deserve such abuse. Just in front of me is a young Spanish couple with several small children. The man is sitting directly in front of me, on the aisle and next to their daughter, while the woman is just across the aisle from them, next to their son.
There is some pretty severe turbulence as soon as we get into the air. The plane is bouncing around quite a lot, and we can see the wings shaking through the window. A couple of drops leave a sick feeling in my stomach, but I’m actually not worried at all. Frankly, although I’ve never been through turbulence this bad, I feel like it’s not really that uncommon, and in any event there’s nothing I can do about it. I might as well just sit back and relax, and if the plane is going to fall out of the sky, the plane is going to fall out of the sky.
Not everyone feels this way. The Spanish woman in front of me lets out a little squeal every time the plane jumps, her legs are shaking uncontrollably, and she keeps reaching across the aisle to grab desperately at her husband’s hand, her Mediterranean eyes wide with terror.
I’m busy regarding her panic with haughty disdain when I see the grumpy old man to my right acting in a similarly frantic fashion. Upon closer inspection, however, I see that he is actually mocking the Spanish woman as his sweet old wife laughs at his antics. My respect for this couple quadruples.
Eventually the pilot gets above the turbulence, and I settle in to watch the in-flight movie (after forking over $5 for cheap headphones, WTF? AirTran always gives them to me for free, if I had known that US Airways was going to charge five goddamn dollars I would have brought my own). It was supposed to be the Inside Man, but instead I find out they are showing Analyze This. Random, isn’t that movie like eight years old? I remember liking it, but I guess I was a dumb kid, because it’s a dumb movie. Afterwards I order a glass of wine and fall blissfully asleep. …Next: Part 3