Over the years I have developed flight anxiety. It does not happen every time I fly and it is eased by simply sitting in the front row, preferably in an aisle seat. I am in a plane now and I am so far from my preferred seat that I am surprised that I am still in the plane. 34F in this plane means back row window.
The woman to my left (excuse me if you are reading over my shoulder) smells like cigarettes and a beauty salon. She smells exactly like my poor dead grandmother used to smell on Tuesdays with tobacco mixed in. Tuesdays were the days Nonnie (that’s what we called her) had her hair set.
I do not know why it is that sometimes I feel like freaking out on a plane and other times I do not. But I realized that if I am seated next to someone more helpless than I, I do not feel anxiety. It rarely happens that I am seated next to someone more helpless than I, but recently I was seated next to a newly hatched bird and I think situations like that bring out the protective father in me, if there is one in there. One tends to be a less effective protector when one is freaking out.
Now, I don’t believe that I have the most sensitive nose in the world or even in this airplane, but I can tell when someone has had an unfortunate movement at an unfortunate moment in a small space – an airplane lavatory. At least I hope it was in the lavatory. When the odor hit my nose I made a face to indicate that I was aware of the smell and then attempted to make a face that said, “Wasn’t me.”