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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Little Airport On The Prairie

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I have a significant phobia of flying. My feet like being planted on the flat prairie earth, where they were either intelligently designed or evolved to stay. My husband claims that my fear of flying stems more from my inability to be a backseat driver to the pilot; regardless of the source of the fear, it’s there, it’s real, and it’s intense...

I have a significant phobia of flying. My feet like being planted on the flat prairie earth, where they were either intelligently designed or evolved to stay. My husband claims that my fear of flying stems more from my inability to be a backseat driver to the pilot; regardless of the source of the fear, it’s there, it’s real, and it’s intense.

My family tries to reason with me about the safety of flying. They give me helpful pep talks using sentences like, “Mom, at least if the plane goes down, we’ll all die together,” and “The last major air disaster that killed all the passengers was a good two months ago. Statistically speaking, we aren’t due for another one like that for, like, a year.” My son’s favorite is, “I’m much more likely to die riding on a dirt bike trail than I am a plane, Mom.”

And, despite my projected demeanor on this radio, I’m very much an introvert. Add the frantic nature of most large airports to my control-freak mentality, and it’s a recipe for a momma meltdown. But I can’t afford a momma meltdown on a big family trip. So, now that Clementine is six years old and is a little more independent, I have problem-solved by choosing the healthiest solution possible: obtaining progressively larger doses of Valium. Just kidding. I’m aware that Valium’s not all that healthy.

Airports are interesting places. Behaviors that may be deemed as odd or inappropriate in a different location are commonplace at an airport. For example, showing up three hours early for an appointment would be crazy anywhere else. We’ve never tested our luck, as some friends do, and ignored the three-hour recommendation for international flights. Besides, three hours gives the Valium plenty of time to take effect.

Another example of weird behavior at the airport manifests as adults lying on the floor or sleeping on top of a hard-side suitcase in public, might be viewed as strange in my hometown. At the airport, if I see a disheveled adult stretched out across a couple of suitcases using an unopened bag of $16 chips as a pillow, I’m like, “Hey kids, look at that clever man. Let’s drag our suitcases together like a cool rolling bed! But first, let me go spend 50 bucks on chip-bag pillows.”

At home, it would be unheard of for my kids to watch seven hours straight of reality shows on a phone, and yet a flight delay has me making sure we are seated near a charging station.

Back on the high plains, most would never stoop to having a glass of wine in the morning. At the airport, all sense of chronology is suspended. It might well be nine in the evening for all the attention that is paid to the proper time to start drinking. I certainly didn’t imbibe at the airport, but only because my doctor had advised against taking any alcohol with my prescription.

While we typically attempt to eat at least one healthy meal per day at home, stick us in an airport for 12 hours and we are bound to have a milkshake for breakfast, gummy worms for lunch, and the 16-dollar bag of chips we earlier used as a pillow for dinner. If the kids complain that the chips are crushed, we advise tilting their heads back and just dumping in the greasy crumbs. God forbid we’d waste those expensive morsels.

Boarding a plane that I know I’ll be on for 11 hours makes me nervous. If only I could interview the pilot and co-pilot. I’d prefer to be seated up in the cockpit. Instead, I’m seated at the wing, where I’ll have to watch those horrible flaps go up and down.

A shrink once told me that that exposure therapy might help me enjoy flying more. I don’t buy it, because I listen to my kids whine all the livelong day, and I don’t enjoy that any more than I did about 1,000 years ago, when the whining first started. Besides, I can’t afford to fly often enough to try exposure therapy. I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with the comforting pep talks of my kids, my prescription, and the knowledge that my feet will soon be back on the prairie earth, where they belong.

Here’s hoping all HPPR’s listeners are planted firmly on the high plains as they hear the upcoming series of episodes collectively called, “Little Spouse in Europe.”