I recently went on a trip to New York City, which meant a trip to the airport. Not that the airport was at all pleasant pre-September 11th, but the new security measures have turned it into an entirely bizarre experience. From the time you enter the terminal to the moment you plop down in the plane itself, you go from feeling confused, to sexually violated, to utterly exhausted. Well, the exhaustion actually starts before you even get to the airport. Let me backtrack….

Bi-plane in the air
Can't we just go back to the good ‘ol days?
Getting someone to drive you to and from the airport is like getting someone to help you move. I usually start nailing down a ride at least a month in advance, with a follow-up phone call every couple of days. I try to be subtle about it, but here's what it comes down to: "Dude, are you still taking me to the airport or do I need to start kissing someone else's ass?" It looks a lot like this:

Day 1: So, we're still good for the airport on the 5th, right?

Day 7: Did you see that game? Man, that was crazy. Football is crazy! Oh… it's not football season? I meant baseball… yeah, baseball. Oh man, good stuff. So yeah, we're still on for the airport, right?

Day 12: I noticed that your Facebook status said you were feeling really sick, how are you? Do you think you'll still be good to drive me to the airport in a couple of weeks?

They always board first class passengers before everyone else, which is a good reminder of my place in the world—row 37, seat F… right next to the engine. Because you're no longer allowed to park your car in the loading/unloading section of the terminal, exiting the car has become a strategy move in and of itself. I like to use the "tuck and roll" method. As soon as I see that "Delta" sign in the distance, I perch my hand in the ready position above the door handle. As long as you launch yourself far enough away, you can successfully avoid hitting the car door and face-planting into the curb. Just make sure your driver knows to throw your luggage out after you, otherwise you're going to spend the duration of your trip wearing the same pair of underwear, turning it inside out every couple of days for optimal freshness of course.

Next comes the checking of the baggage. Since I'm poor, I try to avoid this at all costs by cramming all of my shit into one carry-on (which also means not packing a razor, so I like to get in one last leg shave before I leave). It's $25 for checking your bags one way! I could stretch $25 into a week's worth of food. No way in hell I'm spending that just so I can wait 45 minutes at the end of my flight for some hairy, sweaty man to throw my bag onto a carousel. And don't even get me started on the baggage claim; trying to pick up a giant suitcase off a moving belt with 50 other people around you attempting to do the same thing… last time I did this, I accidentally took out a family of four in the process of grabbing the bag before it moved too far down the carousel.

It doesn't hurt to know what airline you're flying too. In my hurry to make it to the airport two hours ahead of my departure, I forgot to double-check my flight info. I stared at the huge row of airline counters ahead of me: Delta, Southwest, United Airlines, American Airlines, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch. No idea. I had to call one of my friends and have her check my email to see which line I was on, hoping she wasn't silently judging me for the penis enlargement spam that had surely flooded my inbox over the course of the morning.

From there came my favorite part of the airport experience: the TSA security checkpoint. You know, a lot of people complain about this part, but I don't see the need when you're basically getting a free fondle from a stranger. I even get that awkward hesitation I enjoy so much. To my utter shock and horror, though, I was not pulled aside for further inspection. I contemplated complaining to someone. I mean, I came to the airport under the pretense that I was going to be felt-up and subjected to some serious violation of my privacy. Imagine my disappointment when neither of these occurred. I quickly debated if I had time to rub one out in the bathroom just to satisfy my urge, then realized I still had to hike three miles to my concourse.

Baby staring at an airplane from in the airport terminal
Sorry bud, maybe when you're older.
Next was boarding the plane. They always board the first class passengers before everyone else, which is a good reminder of my place in the world—row 37, seat F… right next to the engine. Picking your seat on a plane is like playing the lottery: you either hit the jackpot and get an empty seat next to you, or you lose horribly and end up stuck by the window with two giant men blocking your access to the aisle, leaving you to reign in your bulging bladder for two hours. Meanwhile, a screaming child kicks the seat behind you the whole way, desperate for a golden shower apparently. This is how I spent my flight from Chicago to New York. It sounds like a horrible cliché, but it's a cliché for a reason. Seriously, if you're bringing a small child aboard a plane, slip that mini-douchebag some NyQuil or Tylenol PM before boarding. No one will judge you or view this as child abuse.

In my experience, an airplane has two temperature settings: "Balls Hot" and "My THO is So Bad, I Think My Nipples Might Actually Explode." And if you're lucky enough to be on a long flight, they'll even play 5-year-old reruns of The King of Queens or Everybody Loves Raymond for your viewing pleasure. By the time you actually get off the flight—you know, after dozens upon dozens of logistically handicapped people in front of you finally get their shit from the overhead bins and perform the audibly tiresome act of actually exiting the plane—you need a vacation just from the plane ride itself.

Or, you could do what I did and exit the plane, head straight for the nearest bar, and drown out the fetid stench of the common man you've soaked up for the past six hours with alcohol. Don't forget to pour some out for your clothes homies.