“How long is this flight anyway?” Bob asked.
“Mr. Geisel’s secretary said it was thirteen hours,” Woodruff replied.
“Ah! This is going to be the longest flight ever!” Bob said. “I’m so bored.”
“Here’s a remedy,” Woodruff handed Bob a small booklet. “Do a crossword puzzle.”
“Does it have a maze?”
Hopefully, Bob flipped through the pages of the booklet.
“There’s no maze, it’s a crossword book.”
“I hate crosswords,” Bob whined and flailed his arms in the air. “Reading is hard.”
“Yeah, literacy is the worst,” Woodruff said as he rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Why don’t you take a nap or knit yourself a glove or something.”
“There’s not ample space for my napping style and you know they confiscated my knitting needle at security.”
“Just look out the window then?”
“I don’t like the fog.”
“You mean clouds?”
“Plus, the transparent plastic windows remind me that I’m one crack away from being sucked into the empty vacuum of space.”
“We’re at thirty thousand feet, that’s hardly outer space.”
“And what instrument are you using to measure that? Because you know I have a finally tuned sense of altitude and the trajectory of our vertical ascent puts us at, at least, sixty thousand feet.”
“Right, your elite internal altimeter. Well, considering that it’s an FAA requirement that commercial airlines maintain a flight plan with a cruising altitude between twenty-eight thousand and forty-five thousand feet, I really doubt we’ve reached sixty thousand feet.”
“Woodruff, we’re flying into a storm!”
Bob shouted and pointed out the tiny window. The passengers in the row behind them leaned toward their window and a low murmur rolled throughout the cabin. Woodruff held his finger to his lips and scowled at his friend.
“Would you put a cap on your crazy, it’s spilling onto the other passengers.”
“What if we run out of gas?”
“We’re not going to run out of gas.”
“Remember that video at the air and space museum? Planes crash all the time.”
“Trust the pilot, Bob.”
“Trust him? I don’t even know him.”
A lanky flight attendant, so tall that his hair brushed along the top of the cabin, made his way quickly down the aisle and stopped next to Woodruff.
“Is there a problem?” the lanky flight attendant whispered. He had to crouch down to look Bob in the eye.
“There’s no problem, Teddy,” Woodruff said as he read the flight attendants name tag.
“There most certainly is a problem, Theodor,” Bob said. “How is it that you have the freedom to move about wherever you like but we are shackled to these seats by a tiny light, just waiting for a bell to release us like a bunch of lab rats at a medical clinic?”
“Sir, the turning off of the fasten seatbelt sign will coincide with the aircraft reaching its cruising altitude.”
“Yes I know, between twenty-eight thousand and forty-five thousand feet,” Bob said. “That’s quite a cushion you give yourself there.”
“If there is anything I can do to make your flight more comfortable please let me know.”
“I’d like another bag of peanuts.”
“Sir, you’ve already had twelve bags.”
“How dare you? How can you justify a limit on life sustaining sustenance while I decay before your eyes, as we hurtle through space in this death trap?”
Woodruff closed his eyes and buried his head in his hands.
“Every guest gets two bags of peanuts. You’ve enjoyed six times that.”
“I am a loyalty plus platinum rewards member, I’ll eat a lion if I want to.”
“Sir, we don’t serve lion,” Teddy said. “You selected the chicken and potatoes. If you like, I can change that to either the beef and broccoli or the kosher vegan option.”
“Kosher vegan?” Bob said and contorted his face. “Do I look like the kind of guy who would eat a human organ?”
“That’s not what that means, Bob,” Woodruff spoke into his hands.
“Anyways, I can’t eat beef and broccoli ‘cause it makes my burps smell like sulphur.”
“Sir, the chicken and potato is an excellent choice. The chickens were free range and the spuds are premium Idaho potatoes.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. In addition to being a master chef, I am the founder of the International Council on Spuds and Tots.”
“Co-founder,” Bob corrected. “And as such I cannot suppress my professional opinion.”
“Of that I have no doubt.”
“On a similar note, what kind of flatware do you use?”
“Flatware, you know? Forks, spoons, knifes. Not plastic. Please do not tell me it’s not plastic.”
“I’m afraid it’s plastic.”
“I am serious.”
“I’m not joking.”
“That’s not funny.”
“I’m not trying to be funny.”
“This is an absolute nightmare,” Bob said and pushed Woodruff on the shoulder. “Did you hear that? Plastic flatware with premium potatoes. That’s just perfect. It’ll blend beautiful with this tacky air bus motif.”
Woodruff looked up with his mouth open and shook his head at Bob.
“Excuse my friend, Teddy. He must have lost his mind.”
“On opposite day. ‘cause I’ve found my soul.”
“Soul is not the opposite of mind.”
“Teddy, you can go back up front,” Woodruff said. “I’ll take care of this.”
With a forced smile, the lanky flight attendant turned and walked back toward the front of the plane.
“Yeah, go on back up to the elite in the front of the plane with their golden flatware, endless peanuts, and hand spun custard with a fudge ribbon,” Bob shouted.
“What is wrong with you?”
“I don’t know, I’m all messed up. My horoscope said it’s not a great day for up.”
“Bob, it’s just a horoscope.”
“Just a horoscope! Remember last week when my horoscope said a stranger will soon enter your life with blessings to share?”
“Well it did, and five days later that lady on the bus gave me a donut.”
“It was a bagel.”
“It was a blessing!”
“Horoscopes are designed to be vague and general, to apply to the widest audience with the most possible variables. They need you to find or create your own meaning, it’s called the Barnum effect.”
“It’s called science. Not two months ago my horoscope said you will witness a special event, on the same day we attended that Navajo wedding in Arizona.”
“We were only their because you took a wrong turn at Albuquerque!”
“My horoscope made me take a wrong turn in Albuquerque!”
“I’m not going to talk to you anymore.”
The plane suddenly dropped several hundred feet and bounced the occupants around in their seats. Bob gripped tightly to Woodruff’s arm and screamed.
“Let go of my arm. It’s just turbulence.”
“It’s not a great day for up.”
“Would you stop that.”
Woodruff shook his arm free and pushed Bob back into his seat.
“This is it,” Bob said with his eyes closed tight. “I never even got to get set in my ways, eat supper at two, or try dentures.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The end. And I missed it. You’re only old once!”
“Would you quit it.”
“Quit what? We’re going to crash in the ocean and I totally forgot what grumpy old Theodor said about my floatation device. I wish that I had duck feet.”
“Oh, the places you’ll let your mind go.”
The ding of a bell sounded through the cabin and a voice spoke through a crackly speaker overhead.
“Sorry about that hop and pop, folks,” the pilot said. “There’s been a little more turbulence than normal. My horoscope said it would be a wacky Wednesday. We’ve reached our cruising altitude of thirty thousand feet, so I’m going to turn off the fasten seatbelt light to give you the freedom to move around the cabin. And we’ve asked the crew to bring you another round of peanuts, on us. In just a moment, our very own Teddy G will be out to delight and entertain you with his rendition of Oh, The Thinks You Can Think from Seussical the Musical. We know you have a choice when you fly and we’re grateful you chose to fly with us.”
Teddy appeared at the front of the aisle, wearing a tall red and white striped hat. He walked slowly by each row, handing out little bags of peanuts. After presenting a bag to Woodruff, he tossed one over his shoulder in Bob’s direction. Bob caught it and looked down with a pout.
“Um, excuse me,” Bob said. “Do you have honey roasted?”
The flight attendance turned around and pulled a golden bag out of his shirt pocket. He handed it to Bob, who happily ripped it open and began eating.
“Thank you,” Bob said with a mouth full of peanuts.
“Did I ever tell you how lucky you are?” Woodruff asked.
Peanut shards flew from Bob’s mouth and landed on Woodruff’s shirt sleeve.
“This is going to be the longest flight ever.”