7. Flying, pt. 1. (1998)

Originally published inDigMagazine, 1999.

I backhanded a guy on a plane back from LA not too long ago. I was reluctant to tell the story because it could make me seem like some sort of short-fused prick, which really isn’t true, but it is pretty nuts and just illustrates how unnecessarily wacky people can be.

I was sitting next to a very nice, very attractive, upscale woman probably in her early 30’s and much to my surprise, she talked to me pretty consistently throughout the flight. She was interesting enough that I didn’t realize that the flight was arriving late and I only had 5 minutes to reach my connection- when I did realize it I immediately stepped into the aisle and, continuing our conversation, so did she.

Sitting catty-corner from us was a guy reading a book about the ‘70’s TV show “BJ & the Bear”, “BJ” being a man, “Bear” being a monkey, and the series being one of the worst I’ve ever accidentally witnessed. The man bumped his way into the aisle, apparently still pissed about the show’s cancellation two decades earlier, and after being pushed into the seats a few times, my seatmate asked him very politely if he would mind waiting a minute to get settled because he was hitting her every time he moved.

“I’ve got to put my STUFF in my BAG so I can get off the PLANE! Jesus.” A few minutes later, after pushing her a bit more and clipping her with his bag from the overhead compartment, she asked him again if he could possibly wait a minute to thrash around. “FUCK YOU BITCH” he says, and then glares at her for having the audacity to speak to him again.

After taking a minute to compose herself the woman said calmly “I really feel sorry for people that have no control over their anger.” “…WHO the FUCK… blah blah blah… SHUT UP BITCH… blah blah blah… I’ll do whatever the…” Finally I just say “Hey man, wind it down. We all have to stand here for a while, no reason to make it worse.” “YOU PRICK, WHAT THE… blah blah blah… JUST FUCK OFF!” he responds. “Listen, please wind it down. No one wants to hear you swearing at everyone…” “YOU GOT AN ISSUE WITH ME, YOU PRICK? FUCK YOU!” And, in true ‘70’s TV style, winds up and shoves me, flop-top hair flying, swearing all the while. I blinked for one second and then used the hand not on my bag to crack him squarely in the head. His sunglasses fly off, he falls into the seat behind him, and as he starts gathering steam to get back up, I stare at him, point to the seat, and quietly tell him to sit the fuck down until I am off the plane.

The stewardesses were trying to contain their laughter, my seatmate was trying to get off the plane as quickly as possible, and my next awareness was running through the airport and realizing that I had just smacked someone on an airplane.

Maybe he learned a lesson, but all he was probably thinking is that he should have hit me first…