Thursday, December 13, 2007

Business Class

David Sedaris takes an unforgettable business class flight with a sundae, a Chris Rock movie, and a grieving Pole. An excerpt:

I pulled my private screen from its hiding place in my armrest, and had just slipped on my headphones when the flight attendant came by. “Are you sure I can’t get you something to eat, Mr. . . . ?” She looked down at her clipboard and made a sound like she was gargling with stones.

The Polish man shook his head no, and she regarded me with disappointment, as if it had been my job to stoke his appetite. I thought you were different, her eyes seemed to say.

I wanted to point out that at least I hadn’t complained. I hadn’t disrespected his grief by activating my screen, either, but I did once she’d retreated back into the darkness. Of the four movies playing, I had already seen three. The other was called “Down to Earth,” and starred Chris Rock as an aspiring standup comic. One day, he gets hit and killed by a truck and, after a short spell in Heaven, he’s sent back among the living in the body of an elderly white man. The reviews had been tepid at best, but I swear I’ve never seen anything funnier. I tried not to laugh, but that’s a losing game if ever there was one. This I learned when I was growing up. I don’t know why it was, exactly, but nothing irritated my father quite like the sound of his children’s happiness. Group crying he could stand, but group laughter was asking for it, especially at the dinner table.

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