Just Desserts on Airbus A320

Shadows on the Big Thompson

You can fly for peanuts, but don’t let one cross your lips.

Towards the end of November, Bob got assigned of a couple of farm audits in the-middle-of-nowhere Kansas and, in a stroke of brilliance, decided to route himself through Denver, book an extra four days, and bring me along. It had been two years since we’d seen our Colorado family and friends and everyone we pinged was happy to arrange their calendars to include our impromptu visit. We packed and flew out at dawn on December 2nd.

Although we had pre-board passes, TSA pulled me out of line to examine a Kentucky Fried Tofu sandwich, a bag of homemade cocoa mix, and some leftovers in a Ziploc Twist ‘n Loc. They ended up giving the sandwich and cocoa a pass, but held on to the mashed potatoes, sausage gravy, and Brussels sprouts. “I’m sorry,” the woman explained, “mashed potatoes fall into the ‘gel’ category.” She offered to dump and rinse my container but, embarrassed, I demurred.

We ate in the air, sharing Bob’s sandwich and some peanut butter crackers I found at the bottom of my purse, speculating on whether or not the flight attendants would offer free water while listening to the loudspeaker sales pitch. If we really got thirsty we could invest $2.99 in a bottle of water, a soft drink, coffee, or tea. Coffee and a snack could be had for $4.99.

Our time in Colorado was rich with bright memories: an evening with Emily, Tyler, Nolan, Amy, Molly, Shane, Steven, Caroline, and Ned, savoring Amy’s hand-harvested wild Idaho rice and homemade Thai stew, watching three-year-old Nolan negotiate his world of towering adults; frigid strolls with Cathi, Shirley, Rob, Amy, and Bob; a nostalgic Data Entry Products holiday party at Sharyl and Rob’s with their son, Logan, daughter, Mikki, and friends, Margie, Tim, and Jeff; ambushing Sharon at the Habitat Thrift Store; pizza with Julie; a late lunch with Shirley, Cathi, and Fred; and plenty of lounging in our hosts’ sunny guest rooms.

Air Over Kansas

Beyond its dry clarity, the quality of daylight made me feel closer to the sun. Which of course, we were.

On the flight home we were again bombarded by a garbled sales pitch. In a hurry to get into their jump seats, the flight attendants whipped their words to a blur like cars on a runaway train.

This time, I had filled a plastic bottle at one of the post-security check water fountains, and TSA had not confiscated our lunch: a pair of breakfast burritos. Just as before, I’d been asked to step outside the line to watch a man rifle through my purse. He held up the offending item and raised his eyebrows. “That’s lunch,” I volunteered. Bob and I held our breath while the man palpated the gel-like contents of our burritos, then shrugged and placed them back in my bag. Just in case, I had brought two peanut butter Tiger’s Milk bars.

We were in the air when the speaker crackled again. My ears pricked up at the word “peanuts” and my face fell when I realized they were asking us to not eat anything containing peanuts. “Did they say we can’t eat peanuts?” I asked Bob, folding my arms across my chest. “That’s what I think I heard,” he said.

After devouring our burritos, I sat and stewed. I was still hungry and that tiger bar was calling to me from the bowels of my purse. I’m of an age where I remember free peanuts and in-flight dinners on porcelain plates. Being told my food was off limits was bad enough; I’d be damned if I was going to pay $3 for a tube of Pringles!

I reached into my bag, unwrapped dessert, and took a big bite. “Are you hiding your power bar from the flight attendant?” Bob asked, glancing at my hand beneath the tray table. “Yes,” I said, chewing furtively. Embarrassed by my juvenile act of rebellion, I chomped down quickly and caught a hunk of lip between my teeth.

Double damn, I thought: crime doesn’t pay. And it turns out that just desserts taste like blood and peanuts.

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