We recently went on a trip to Africa. Plane one: three and a half hours to New York. Plane two: fourteen hours to Dubai. Plane three: ten hours to Johannesburg. This does not include the waiting times between planes. We all hoped to get some sleep, but it is not easy to sleep when your body says that it is daytime. Victor decided that for the last flight, the ten hours to Johannesburg, he would insure his rest by taking a sleeping pill. Victor had never taken a sleeping pill before, in fact, he rarely takes any medication except the very little prescribed by his doctor.
We were served a meal. (On these kinds of flights you are served meals on a regular basis. You eat these meals because they are right there in front of you. They taste like airplane food.) Victor and I were sitting in the middle of the cabin in the middle of the plane in a four-seat row with our friends, Ken and Cindy.
“I’m going to take an Ambien,” Victor announced.
“Why?” I asked. Victor is known by all who know him as a person who can sleep anywhere at any time under any conditions.
Here is some convincing photographic evidence of Victor’s aforementioned abilities:
Victor on the bed, before peeing, after work and before dinner
Victor asleep on the dog crate, after work, before peeing and before dinner
Victor in the airport in Bhutan
Victor on Safari at Kruger National Park
Please understand that there were lions and rhinos and hippos and warthogs and springboks and zebras and giraffes and, well, you get the idea….
Here is Victor on the bus traveling through the bush in Africa, where we passed ostriches and elephants and wild dogs and leopards and cape buffalo and hyenas and all flavor of monkeys….
I think it may be genetic.
“Because I want to be sure to be rested so I don’t miss anything,” he said. “In fact, I’m going to take it with my meal.” He also had a glass of wine with his meal. You don’t have to pay for wine on long flights, even back in steerage where we were. Victor does not like to pass up anything that is free. Another thing you should know about Victor is that he is virtually never publicly affectionate. Our kids have named the hug they try to give him after not seeing him for a long time: “The Hug and Shove.”
On Emirates Airlines, there is a screen in front of each seat with hours of movies, TV shows, music and computer games. The lights had been dimmed to simulate nighttime.
I was watching a movie. Victor began poking me. I used hand gestures to indicate I was watching a movie. He continued to poke me. I told him that I was watching a movie. He poked me some more. I took off my earphones and looked at him. He was grinning.
“Let’s cuddle,” he said.
“Cuddle?” I asked.
We usually reserve our cuddling to the bedroom. We were on an airbus with four to five hundred people.
Victor became quite insistent. There began a tussle whereby I tried to hold his hands down while he made it quite clear that he needed his hands free to pursue certain maneuvers familiar to me, but only in the bedroom. Victor was amorous. The struggle went on for quite some time. It was a heated grappling. Spectators started gathering. Our group assembled in the aisle. More onlookers appeared.
We were quite the hit on a boring flight. Finally I suggested that he put his blanket over his head, which is a trick he uses to breathe carbon dioxide and become sleepy. Oddly, he reacted immediately by covering up his head. Ken and Cindy, both medical professionals, told me that he was actually quite asleep and to watch him carefully because there was no telling what he might do. Ken and Cindy and I all stayed awake to watch him.
He took off the blanket and shouted: “Argentina!” He pulled his blanket back over his head. He took the blanket off several times to meticulously bite his nails and then covered himself back up. He removed the blanket again saying: “Get in touch with Ken and Cindy and tell them it will be Wednesday, if that works for them.” Back under the blanket he went. Frequently, he would remove the blanket and either utter some gibberish or grin and wave giddily at the three of us with him in the row, eyes wide open.
After he had been quiet for awhile, I began to let my guard down and went back to my movie. Ken pulled my sleeve.
“Victor has to stop that! It isn’t safe.”
I looked at Victor. He had taken out all the cash for our vacation, which had been in the “secret” pouch around his neck, and was counting it out loud in his seat.
“Victor, stop that!” I exclaimed.
“You are not the boss of me;” he replied, “you can’t tell me what to do.”
“I may not be your boss, but you need to put our money away now.” I said. He continued to count the money. Out loud.
Ken said: “Victor! Put that away now!” Victor quietly put the money back in his “secret” neck wallet and went under the blanket again. Apparently, Ken’s advice was given more credence than mine.
This had been going on for hours. It seemed a good time for me to get up and take a bathroom break. Ken and Cindy got up and I exited that way, so as not to disturb Victor. They took up watch. I just made the turn to the bathroom when I heard Ken yell.
“’HE’S ON THE MOVE, IRENE!”
I hurried to the other aisle and found him wandering about.
“Where are you going?” I asked him.
“Nowhere. Why are you following me? he asked.
“Do you have to go to the bathroom?” I asked.
“Could be,” he replied.
I walked him to the bathroom and stood outside. He was inside for a very long time. The toilet never flushed. I was beginning to think that I would have to send Ken or Cindy to get a cabin attendant to free him from the bathroom. At long last, Victor emerged from the bathroom. I was relieved to see that he was fully dressed, since one of the scenarios our friends and I had discussed was that he might just disrobe in the bathroom and come out buck-naked. He had not used the toilet. I can only assume he was making faces in the mirror.
When he saw me outside waiting for him, he asked:
“Why are you here? You are always spying on me!”
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that, honey,” I said, “I’ll try not to bother you.”
I maneuvered him back to his seat and told him to sit down. He was eerily compliant. He explained that he didn’t want to sit. He wanted to take a walk. I used my ace-in-the-hole and said:
“If you sit down, I’ll rub your head until you go to sleep.”
Victor will do close to anything to get his head rubbed, evidently even while asleep. He sat down and I covered him with the blanket again. He took it off and asked:
“Why are you covering me up?”
“Head rubs are better under the blanket,” I declared.
“Oh. Okay,” he said, and settled into his seat. I buckled him in, wishing I had handcuffs, and covered him with the blanket. I stood in the aisle and rubbed his head continuously until I saw that he had finally stopped fidgeting. Then I walked around to the other aisle and Ken and Cindy let me through to my seat.
After an endless wait, the lights came up slowly in the cabin and the cabin attendants came around with another meal. Victor pulled off his blanket and proclaimed his vast hunger.
“I feel really rested,” he noted.
“Are you awake?” I asked.
“Of course I’m awake. You are ridiculous,” he answered.
He had no memory of anything he had said or done, except, oddly, the counting of his money.
It is my heart-felt advice that you should not take your first Ambien on a plane. First take it in bed, with someone carefully watching.
109 Comments »
This is hilarious. Where was the video camera when you needed it most? Oh, life is just one missed opportunity after another. Keep up the great writing.