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Flyin' high 

Saying I'm not a good flyer is like saying Osama isn't a very nice man. I hate flying. I admit it. I've faced the truth, and the truth has set me ... in a car. Or a boat, or a train, or a bus. However, situations can arise where flying is necessary--where time must trump terror. I can deal with it if I have to. Friends advise me to drink heavily before and during the flight. But I don't do this because I'm more afraid of belting out at my fellow passengers a maudlin, bleary-eyed version of "Nearer My God To Thee." I mean, what if I did that, and then we didn't crash?

I'm not afraid of terrorists, like that exploding-shoe guy. I'm warning all you potential shoe-exploders: If you are idiot enough to try something on any airplane I'm in, you will be eating that shoe as your complimentary snack while I flog you unconscious with my rosary.

What scares me is when the flight attendant says cheerfully, "The captain has illuminated the seatbelt sign, because we anticipate a little bumpy air, nothing serious, but for God's sake don't leave your seat. " OK, they don't say that last part, but it's implied.

I had to fly recently. It was a beautiful day here, but after boarding we sat on the plane for 45 minutes because the weather out west was "iffy" ("iffy" is something you never want to hear from an airplane pilot--or a dentist). I didn't mind waiting. I would have waited, like, a couple of weeks, just to ensure a nice, sunny day in Texas.

Finally, the copilot announced we had clearance to take off, but a window of only two minutes, so buckle up! I knew it was the copilot talking, because the pilot had his hands full flooring the plane into a half-circle before gunning us down the runway. And, I was the only one gently urging second thoughts:

"Window?! Window?! We can't get this big plane through a little two-minute window. Are you CRAZY?"

I looked around frantically for support, but all I saw were people reading, talking or--I kid you not--sleeping! Since I was being hurled down a runway at the speed of light, I let it go, although the words my mother said to me the night before my wedding echoed in my head: "Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you."

Halfway there, we started bumping ... and swaying, and lifting, and dropping, and shuddering, and--this was just me personally--freaking.

At one point, the flight attendant, who'd started down the aisle with her drink cart, flailed backward and fell to her hiney. She reached up to grab the mic: "We won't be having beverage service today, due to the slight turbulence." Please. If it were slight turbulence, she wouldn't be making this announcement from the floor!

Obviously, I made it back in one piece, but just for future reference--my will is in my sock drawer.

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