Sunday, April 08, 2007

How The Other Side Lives

I visited two parallel universes in one weekend. It was a bit of a whirlwind.

The first visit gave me a glimpse of what my life would be like if I married for money and/or chose a career slightly (ha) more profitable than microbiology, while the second revealed what it could be like to have three kids, house, and husband, all by the ripe old age of 25. Both of these revelations were somewhat traumatic.

Let me start at the beginning. I went to Nebraska this weekend. Yep, Nebraska. I never wanted to know where Nebraska is, much less visit it. I am happy to say that I still have no idea where it is. “Over there” remains sufficient for me. Due to scheduling issues and delays (stupid Logan Airport) I was shuffled to a new flight, getting bumped to first class in the process.

We were plied with vast quantities of spring water, booze, and good cheer all before leaving the ground in our wide, recliner-like seats. And then we were fed – roasted vegetable pizza with ricotta, parmesan and feta. It was good! It wasn't "good-for-an-airplane" good, but actually good. I could very easily get used to this manner of travel.

What I would have a harder time getting used to are the semi-hostile stares of the people filing past me to their seats in coach. “It’s not my fault!!,” I wanted to yell out, but didn’t, for fear of being kicked out of first class and relegated to coach with the rest of the riff raff.

The other thing I was not a fan of – I was one of two women in first class, and the only one not traveling in the capacity of “the wife.” Bit of a culture shock there. I was surrounded by men in suits and sat next to one named (I kid you not) Blaine. Blaine? Seriously? He was perfectly nice and friendly, but I had a hard time excusing his name… even after I had a beer.

Speaking of culture shock… Nebraska. Huh.

At the engagement party of the bestest of friends, I was seated next to the Nebraska born and bred friends of her fiance. The women among them were approximately my age, if not a little younger (ack). They promptly and thoroughly questioned me as to my marital/relationship status and were shocked and impressed by the fact that I am not only single, but that I traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska *gasp* all by myself. “You are so brave!” they mused. I hadn’t realized that domestic airspace was pirate-infested and dangerous, but alright, I'll take brave.

Once they realized that I a) didn’t care to hear about their kids, b) didn’t care to discuss the possibility of having kids of my own, and that c) my sense of humor, taste in television shows, and choice of reading material did nothing but puzzle and irritate them, I was left to my Pinot Grigio and giant plate of amazingly good food from the Kansas City caterer that served the party. On my fully loaded plate: spicy saag paneer with the tenderest paneer cubes, lamb curry with strong cinnamon undercurrents, dal makhani (brown dal made with butter/ghee), raita, pakoras, naan, and assorted sweets (mithai; jalebi is a personal favorite).

I am now happily, safely, and non-pirate-molestedly back to my non-first class, child-free life. As I slip back into my normal schedule, among people who see the world as I do, I realize that I could have been many different people, each with her own
society, problems, and set of expectations, judgments and motivations, but I am simply me, with a puzzling and irritating sense of humor, penchant for traveling alone, and slowly returning love of vegetables, especially multi-colored ones. These radishes are going on the salad that I will take to lab with me tomorrow as I attempt to recover from the mass quantities of food I ate this weekend. I will eat my salad while dreaming of saag paneer and deep-fried sugar syrup. Sigh.


JC said...

I've never flown first class. But considering how the rest of my life is, that sounds about right. The reason I always give people in first class the stinkeye is because they look at me first, and they always look so damn smug. And they always feel the need to take a good close look at my carry-on bag for some reason, like they're thinking "Look at that bag - damn right he belongs in coach!" But at least I don't have to sit next to someone named Blaine fer Chrissakes.

Sounds like a great trip, even though it was Nebraska. I'm so proud of you for travelling all by yourself like that!

I love that your sense of humor, and choice in TV shows and reading "puzzled and irritated" people. That's the best we can hope for sometimes!

Ben Chen said...

There is another class outside of First Class?!?!?! I mean, don't they serve Filet Mignon on all flights?

Anna said...

JC - I honestly don't understand. Not only were they taken aback that I traveled alone, but that I came to the party (for my BEST FRIEND) unaccompanied. WTF? I would hate to have someone holding my hand every time I needed to get something done. I would get nothing done at all.

Why Ben, I had no idea you were such a high roller. Good to know!

atp said...

I've always thought that First Class was a load of bollocks personally. I mean sure, who wouldn't want a delicious roasted vegetable pizza instead of a scrappy bit of meat with tinned carrots and peas, or a little more leg room and a comfier seat for that matter. But honestly, can it make the journey that much more pleasant to justify the extra cost? I suppose that's the point, the people who do travel first class can justify the extra spending because it's peanuts to them. Whatever.

Well done for surviving the Nebraskan party anyway, I cannot bare when people suggest I'm 'brave' for doing something so patronising!