My dearest monsters on the wing from Twilight Zone the Movie:

have a different kind of newsletter for you today. It’s just – all jokes. There’s literally no content in here, no citations, no history, just something I composed mostly in the Notes app as I was bouncing across the Pacific Ocean at 12am. Enjoy! 

Everyone has to pick a social media platform to submit to, and mine is Instagram. In return for my mindless, slavish devotion to the scroll, the algorithm serves me devastatingly accurate ads. Gold plated jewelry with ancient deities embossed on it! Snail mucin eye serums from Korea! Portable neck fans for the aging lady!

The New Yorker, in particular, has my number. They have recently launched these cheap but SURGICALLY TARGETED Insta promos for articles from their vault. We are talking serial killers, cave rescue stories, and most importantly – online rage bait aimed at my specifically bourgeois lifestyle. And while I was on vacation last week, I could not resist opening a maddeningly titled “The Case Against Travel.” I’ll let you read this nauseatingly elitist word salad yourself, but the bottom line is essentially – you peasants don’t know enough about yourselves to know that your trips are pedestrian and sad and you only take them to “experience change” in your boring ass lives. If you had only read the great philosophers, you’d know that change comes from within! Don’t worry, she presents her own bona fides first – visiting a hawk hospital in Abu Dhabi and then – GASP – realizing she had done some tourist shit.

A vet hospital interior room with many vets standing around falcons, hawks and assorted other birds of prey

Devastated to learn the hawk hospital is not a hospital run by hawks (image © Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital)

A murmuration of starlings, thousands of birds forming a dense black cloud in the sky over a dark landscape

Putting aside the fact that most of us are not TRAVELING TO FUCKING ABU DHABI any time soon, we’re just like, trying to take our kids to Disneyland or relax on a beach for the few days a year that our corporate overlords deign to let us off the hamster wheel of productive capitalism, this is clearly an essay meant to drive more essays. And angry Instagram comments. And obviously I fell for it, because the NEW YORKER KNOWS WHO THE FUCK I AM. And yes I am a subscriber! I even have the tote bag! I’m exactly that kind of white lady!

This writer got one thing right, however – despite our Instagram habits, we don’t have a lot of patience for other people’s vacation stories. Their vacation disasters, on the other hand – everyone’s got time for those. We love a little schadenfreude with our beach hot dog legs. I have a whole stable of stories about funny, terrible, bumbling shit that I have done all over the world, and people love it.

So this week, I give you My Recent Flight to Maui: A Case Study in Assholes. When global warming, shoddily constructed planes operating under a hex, and my fellow citizens come together, fun is the result!!!! The first asshole in our story is climate change. The day we were scheduled to fly out, an ATMOSPHERIC RIVER pulled up on California and caused absolute havoc on the roads and in the skies. Since we no longer have normal ass rain in this state, only mudslide-inducing, tree-destroying, gale force bullshit, we knew there would be delays.

When we pulled into the airport we saw some birds being very weird. I don’t know if it was the rain stopping or starting, the wind, or the casual tornado warning for SAN MATEO COUNTY but the birds near the garage were a mess. Hundreds of them swarmed around in chaos circles and my kid – who spends too much time listening to me – said “oh that’s a bad omen.” Because I’m superstitious, I tried to pivot to a boring mini lecture on AUGURY because I didn’t want to get on the plane with that shit hanging around in my brain.

But who says omens are always death and destruction??? What if they can just portend a REALLY BAD TIME?! Did the ancient Romans know about this? Did they scan the skies for wayward starlings and decide that Nero was probably going to get drunk and try to fuck a horse or something? Did they cut open a sheep only for its entrails to say “Pliny is cheating at discus”??? Did the oracle take too many mushrooms and predict some light STI outbreaks among the Praetorian Guard? I’ve read a lot of history books so I feel like I’m qualified to say YES PROBABLY.

Because that bird chaos was warning us about something – travel chaos, aka, a really bad time. The storm delayed our flight 4 hours. Which, OK, United can’t be blamed for everything. We boarded our plane at 8pm and then waited ANOTHER THREE HOURS to take off because of a mechanical problem. This brings us to our next asshole: corporate malfeasance. Guess what kind of plane we were on??? The one that’s been in the news since it rolled off the assembly line – the Boeing Max Never!

I don’t need to tell you what is up with these planes. They’re cursed. And by cursed, I mean *allegedly* rushed to production with no meaningful oversight from the federal government, dubious corporate decision making, poor engineering, and a body count of 364 people. I was supposed to fly one of these in January but OOPS, the door plug blew out of another one at 8,000 feet and all of those planes had to be grounded. Because like, someone didn’t TIGHTEN THE SCREWS PROPERLY. Anyway, I hate flying these planes, but this was my husband’s birthday and I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass about it.

The wing of a plane in flight, seen through a cabin window

On this flight, the hatch on the bottom of the plane wouldn’t close. It took almost three hours to fix. And I gotta be honest – I don’t want to fly 5 hours over the ocean with anything fucking beeping or booping or hanging off. So take your time but also HURRY THE FUCK UP AND ITS YOUR FAULT, BOEING/UNITED.

Three hours on the plane waiting to take off is a long time. And you know what makes it harder? Getting older! I have spoken about my menopause ~ journey ~ before so none of you will be surprised to hear that I was deep in the throes in seat 4D. Stress and fatigue can make things like hot flashes worse, and a combined 7 hours of sitting around refreshing Flight Aware was indeed causing stress and fatigue. I felt like a strip of bacon plastered onto a pleather griddle. Heat was emanating off of my body! It must have looked like the fucking tarmac at Las Vegas! A mirage of a middle aged woman wearing noise canceling headphones warping the air around her with her powerful convection rays! Put your protective eyewear on kids, I think the source of the hatch malfunction is coming from the last row of first class!

There’s another thing that makes hot flashes worse and that’s alcohol. Unfortunately for me they did not hand out drinks during our bonus three hour stay aboard flight 1479. It’s probably actually FORTUNATELY bc I might have human combusted and caused an even longer delay. My bad!

Listen this is probably also fortunate because of the third asshole in our story – the other passengers. They were on the razor thin edge of losing their absolute shit. One man paced the cabin and demanded to know why we couldn’t take the plane in the next gate. It was an Air Canada plane! No! Another started a panic about the toilets, loudly telling everyone that the toilets in the back were broken and WE WERE NEVER GOING TO LEAVE like this was the last chopper out of Saigon. When the mechanics came on to check it out he promptly shut right the fuck up because these dudes were huge and that was very gratifying for me, personally. It turns out that some idiot abroad this very plane THREW “SOMETHING” in there but like, it was still flushing so off we go.

Another passenger – I’ll call him J6 – started threatening to pull his family and their presumed 16 pieces of luggage off the flight. This dude was clearly trying to foment insurrection on the plane. He was getting aggressive with this flight attendant and I had a short fantasy that he would be carried out in handcuffs. Of course, the fucking luggage would still have to come off and delay us even more. Do people even put bombs in suitcases anymore?????? Can we do away with that rule??? It’s basically a free pass for obnoxious passengers to be the star of the show for a minute. These people are too petty to bring down a flight, come on now.

All this while I smoldered like a burned chunk of the earth’s crust in my seat, the air vents open to the max and cursing everyone (me lol) who abused their Xanax scrips and ruined it for the rest of us. I was listening to a Dollop episode about Anita Bryant and did you know she had a Valium habit? Hysterically fanning the flames of rampant homophobia was tiring and stressful you guys. But I didn’t have Xanax OR Valium OR even one beer! All I had was tap water from the airport fountain. Sad!

Active magma field
Artist Interpretation of the Author

Speaking of tap water, we have a bonus asshole in this story: the lady in line behind me at the airport Mexican place who looked like Marjorie Taylor Greene. She freaked out on the cashier when she was charged $5 for her water. She started yelling about how the aluminum bottles were making it expensive and why can’t we just have plastic like everywhere else!!! To which the hero at the counter said “plastic costs the same amount” while I rolled my eyes SO DRAMATICALLY and thought BUT DID NOT SAY “bitch this is an airport you’re lucky that water doesn’t cost $40.” San Francisco is annoying for a lot of reasons but recycling isn’t one of them. Maybe while you’re hurtling through the air at Mach Global Warming you can look down and wave at the Great Pacific Garbage patch and catch a little perspective.

We arrived late but in one piece at 2:30am and Avis was still open which was a miracle. No one had to sleep on an airport floor and the island was balmy and silent. This peace was shattered the following day when a huge cockroach crawled across Quinn’s arm in the car. She screamed, I screamed, we all screamed for a flamethrower to end it. I wish I could blame this on Avis but it was Brandon, who, dwelling in the bug-free recycled aluminum paradise of Northern California, casually left the car window open. I drove everywhere for the rest of the trip WITH A BROOM IN MY HAND, just in case.

The rest of the trip was spent doing TOURIST SHIT that us basic brand plebs are into, like drinking mai tais and going on waterslides. Brandon got all the lava flows he could drink. My children looked up from their phones to see baby goats and whales. The shadow of the fires was all around us, but that’s a different newsletter for another time.

We did not read Pessoa, Chesterton, Percy, or Emerson, we read clickbait served by Instagram and wrote 2000 words about going through menopause on a broken plane. It was a lovely time.