Today we landed in Budapest. We are 7 hours earlier than our time zone, trying to get ready for bed at local time 10 PM and home time of 1PM. We travelled and layed over about 11 hours. So even if we did spend much of it sitting on our butts we’re tired. Our butts are tired. So I’ll not regale you with the wonders of the land or people or food or further information about my butt, I’ll be able to do that after we’ve slept, however I do want to talk briefly about food, food on the plane.
Eating dinner on the plane is an acquired skill. Now, I’ve heard magical stories about the wonders of what goes on behind the curtain that leads to first class but that is not where we sit. Back in the cattle car, dinner is a very scripted and efficient endeavor. Once you’ve made your choice, meatballs or vegetable pasta, vegetable for me this time, the flight attendant (I think that is what they are called now) deftly places a perfectly architected tray with little containers, containing each course. The trays perfectly fit the space on those flip down table tops, leaving only room to put your beverage of choice in the little round indentation on the upper right side. You of course are squeezed in closely enough so that any wrong move will spill that beverage of choice all over your complimentary pillow and blanket (thankfully the blanket comes wrapped in plastic for just such an eventuality).
Everything is covered with plastic lids or plastic film that need to be removed before you can eat. Tip: always remember to tip the container with the corner that you are removing, elevating it a little from the rest of the container, or the air pressure that has built up inside the container from now flying at 36,000 feet will spit the wet contents out. Again, lucky they thought of that plastic cover for the blanket. Not so lucky for the little pillow.
The whole meal is like those little plastic 15-puzzles that you got as a party favor when a child. There are 15 numbered tiles in four columns of 4, with one tile missing. Your job is to slide the tiles up, down, left, or right to put the tiles in numeric order. There is one tile missing so you have an empty space to move into.
That, however, is where the similarity ends. In the airplane dinner puzzle there are no empty spaces. In order to make an empty space you need to be holding one of the “tiles.”
So, let’s start with the entree. Lift up the entree. See, now you’ve magically created an empty space into which you can move the other tiles, however that empty space will be needed for those lids and plastic coverings and “silverware” packaging and salt and pepper packets. Firmly holding the entree with the corner you are opening slightly elevated, gently tear the cellophane off the meal. You were holding gently right. You didn’t squeeze the meal too hard when the cellophane came off? Remember that pillow.
Good. Now that filmy piece of plastic needs to be set down in the newly opened empty space. Be careful, because one side is covered with the gravy or alfredo sauce from your pasta. Did I mention that you should make sure that the air vent over your head should be turned closed before executing this step because those gale force winds from the ceiling will pick up that cellophane and drop it, sauce side down, on your pants, or your blanket.
You can now eat your entree, holding it in your non-dominant hand and your fork in the other. Did I remind you to take your fork out of it’s cellophane package. You’ll need two hands (or your teeth) for this and you can’t put your entree back in the empty space since the gravy covered plastic is now there. If you’d like to have a little of your coleslaw with your veggie pasta, you will have to take the top off the coleslaw, with one hand, careful not to jiggle the seat back table since your are holding your entree. You’ll need to stick your fork into the entree to free up your hand. Did I mention that your beverage of choice is red wine. No risk there. Place the lid on top of the little pile of detritus that you are accumulating. It never seems to pile neatly, however, always threatening to topple to the floor or pillow.
Once you’ve finished the entree you are now home free because you can start stacking containers inside containers and freeing up more room so your chocolate cake can be eaten in peace.
One final complication: did I mention that all of this needs to be done without moving your elbows. Since you are squeezed in firmly with the rest of the cattle, elbow movement is not allowed. Hopefully you are traveling with an intimate who is already used to your elbows, but even then movement is not allowed.
I need to get to bed. This is crazy talk.