It’s amazing how for someone so averse to travel I actually love the flying process.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have that macho thing for planes. No model airplanes growing up, no wonderment about aviation… not even a passing interest in NASA. Growing up Bogart, if you couldn’t hit, throw or catch it, it didn’t matter.

But I like being IN an airplane; it’s restful. And I love being IN airports—for respite.

The first flight we ever took was in ’66 (Philly to Cleveland). Our father was living out east at the time and had summoned his family. As such, Hal and I, with Grandma and Aunt Helen, spent ten hours on a Greyhound… sans air-conditioning…answering his call. I don’t want to say the trip was rough—-but The Jersey Girl’s labour years later with Michael was far less painful. That being the case, ‘though his mom and sis wouldn’t fly, the boys flew home.

But…we didn’t fly much. Not a South Euclid thing. Oh, I did in the army and did on my honeymoon, but generally it took an act of Congress to get me air-bound. Not that I’ve been afraid. Hardly. I’ve shown a profound ability to fall asleep before takeoff and awake after touchdown. Like clockwork. Nor was I nervous. At all. Heck, in ’96 we were flying back from Paradise Island: Fenton, Snyder, Kraut, Treinish…when all of a sudden the lights went out, the craft was bouncing, there was lightning and the pilot was warning of bumpy weather ahead! Tension filled the cabin—but not us.

“Let’s have a Ricky Nelson sing-along,” we urged passengers, few of whom were laughing. “And how ‘bout some Buddy Holly?” said Stuart. “And Otis Redding!” I added. (Not surprisingly, only Bobby thought us funny).

My true passion, though, when it comes to travel, is with airports.

First of all, there are the smiles. EVERYBODY’S smiling. People departing can’t wait to go—people returning are thrilled to be back. It even makes dropping off or picking up friends a joy! I love airport runs. Everybody’s happy!

Well, not everybody. My kids give me a lot of grief for arriving early. So be it. Who’s harmed? Doesn’t it make more sense to be ahead of the game? Security takes time; lines are unpredictable. The hour prior to leaving for the airport—regardless of where you are—is “garbage time”. Nothing gets done—everyone is waiting until the right “time to leave”. Doesn’t it make more sense to sit sixty minutes at a gate and be safe than run out the clock at home and risk being sorry?

I head to the airport, with pride, 2-3 hours before takeoff. There is coffee to drink, a computer to play…a book to be read and, if inclined, calls to be made. In an odd way, whether I’m heading out or coming home, it feels like vacation.

Often Michael books my travel. Rare is the case that he doesn’t bust chops. Just recently my boy mused “It leaves at 12:30, Dad. You’ll have breakfast once you get through security.”

Ah, the kids…they just don’t understand. (Nor some of the adults, I might add).

Returning from LaGuardia, just days ago, I was booked on the same flight with the ex. In a rare instance when a disagreement between us ended with me breaking the tie, we arrived at the airport at 11:30 for a 2:20 flight. (It was, after all, Monday—the back end of a holiday weekend—why take chances?)

“You’re so early, there’s a 1 o’clock flight you may get on,” we heard checking bags. We shot to the gate. (It occurred to me, of course, that all this was happening because I’d rushed us. It was to early, still, to gloat).

An hour later, maybe more, the call came:

“We’re going to start calling stand-bys…As you hear your name please come forward……….BOGART!”

Approaching the desk I saw the uniform frown. “There’s only room for one of you,” he said, coaxing an answer. We looked at each other, but not for long. I really didn’t care.

“You take it,” I uttered, in more of a knee-jerk reaction than true chivalry.
And with that she was gone with the wind.

The story, though, had a happy ending. For both of us.

Cabin shut, I turned to the agent.
“How do I get I get my boarding pass back for the 2:20 flight?” I asked.
“Oh,” he responded, “That flight’s been delayed. It’s leaving at 5 o’clock.”

It mattered not. Time on my hands, there were strangers to watch and people to talk to. There was coffee to drink, a computer to play on, a book to be read and yes, calls to be made.

And I was smiling.

2 Responses to “I BELIEVE I CAN FLY”

  1. Stuart says:

    And I thought you lliked to fly because of the Security Pat Down and betting on arrivals with the Texan that was on Seinfeld!

  2. bob says:

    What you may not remember is all the songes we sang were from people that died on air planes. We sang Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly Ritchie Valens songs not Otis Redding.

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