97. The mile high club.

I am not, by world standards, a particularly large man. I weigh between 80 and 90kg, depending on how much I have needed to run away from Mrs 23thorns in any given month. There are times, however, when I feel like a huge, misshapen freak. Antique shops terrify me.

Aaaargh! The horror!

Aaaargh! The horror!

They all seem to have been laid out by the same entry-level sociopath, who gets his kicks out of watching physically awkward strangers sweep tiny glass statues of swans off tables, or knock over hat-stands that form the supportive bases of complicated structures made out of imitation Ming vases and peeling mirrors in elaborate gilded frames.

Few people know that these are produced purely for display in antique shops. It is illegal to keep one in one's home.

Few people know that these are produced purely for display in antique shops. It is illegal to keep one in one’s home.

I suddenly feel like I have grown three extra elbows, and my clothes all seem to billow out like Batman’s cape. This would be cool if I was chasing a villain down a darkened alleyway, but doesn’t really help when I am trying to look intelligent while waiting for Mrs 23thorns by picking up delicate little porcelain vases and looking at the bottoms of them while surrounded by serried ranks of poorly balanced glassware.

I have absolutely no idea what I’m looking for, but it feels like the right sort of thing to do, and I can practically feel the admiring glances of the more attractive and sophisticated antique hunters around me as I peer closely at the bases before I look thoughtfully at the ceiling for a second and then nod firmly to myself and place the offending article back down on the table with a resolve bordering on contempt. “No,” my body language says, “That was not the funny little blue and white vase I was looking for. Wrong stuff on the bottom, you see.”

I was looking for one from Zambia.

I was looking for one from Zambia.

Aeroplanes make me feel the same way. Like antique shops, they are trying to pack as much stuff as they can into as small a space as possible. It starts in the corridor as you try to find your seat. South African men tend to be fairly large. We are also one of those cultures that is uncomfortable with physical contact with other men. Since there are very strict aviation laws requiring that at least 30% of all the men on any given flight must remain standing and bugger around with their overhead luggage for the full fifteen minutes before take-off, avoiding such contact is no easy thing. But we’ve found a way.

Instead of vigorously grabbing our corridor-mates around the waist and executing an elegant half turn like contestants on “Dancing with the Stars”, like normal people, we turn away from each other and vigorously thrust our groins at the unfortunate souls in the aisle seats next to us as we shuffle past each other like hoboes with bad feet trying to carry bowling balls between their knees. For some reason we are not at all concerned about physical contact with the groin thrustees. There is no danger of eye-contact, so we can pretend they’re not there.

It's best to practice this manoeuvre at home before diving straight in there. Someone could lose an eye.

It’s best to practice this manoeuvre at home before diving straight in there. Someone could lose an eye.

The seats are no better. I understand. Margins in the airline business are tight. To keep prices down, you have to pack in as many people as possible. Fine. It’s just that I happen to have some knees, and I have to keep them with me because my hand-luggage is full of duty-fee liquor in case prohibition is introduced at our destination during our flight.

I know that this is the way that things need to be, but it does mean that a flight is something to be endured, not enjoyed. “I”, I have never said to Mrs 23thorns, not even once, as the person on the other side jostles me for elbow room and a passive-aggressive woman in a sky-blue paramilitary uniform and 8kg of makeup hands me a tiny, brittle cup of water, “must have you now!”

Would you care for a cup of coffee, you insignificant little man?

Would you care for a cup of coffee, you insignificant little man?

But others apparently feel differently. Yet again, a couple have been arrested for sexy shenanigans on a busy passenger flight. I am fully aware that the full spectrum of human sexuality is a wonderful and varied thing, but I find it hard to get my head around the idea that there are people out there so turned on by tiny plastic tables bouncing off their knees while someone drones on about his cruising speed and altitude that they will risk arrest and exotic infections by falling upon each other right there, as the drinks cart rattles romantically past and a small child tries to ram a foot through the bases of their spines.

You could, unlike the happy couple in question, who clearly, and incorrectly, felt that a pair of tiny hamster blankets thin enough to watch a solar eclipse through would provide them with sufficient privacy, take your passion to the toilet. I actually like aeroplane toilets. They’re cool in a tiny-houses, compact-living kind of way. It’s all so small and tidy. And small. They are filled with cute little touches like tiny cup dispensers and concealed boxes of tissues. And urine. Turbulence tends to mess with some men’s aim.

I hope they at least had the courtesy to lift the seat.

I hope they at least had the courtesy to lift the seat.

They are also a little tight for an 80-90kg man. Alone. Bring someone else in and the only “Oh gods!” would come from getting stabbed in the back by the sticky-uppy toilet flusher and having your nether regions drenched in that startlingly blue liquid.

And then there’s that whole consequence thing. Getting arrested for smuggling heroin or hiding a bomb in your shoe has far more lasting consequences, but does have a certain quiet dignity to it when compared to being plastered over the world press as “the plane rogering couple”. And you will get caught. If you can have sex in the middle of a busy plane without anyone noticing, you are very, very bad at sex and should take up macramé instead.

But no-one is going to learn from this. We will keep seeing reports like this, because some irresponsible fool decided to call rogering someone on a cramped seat with a flotation device underneath while your neighbours try to watch documentaries about Latvia’s most thrilling tourist spots “joining the mile high club”. People like clubs. They want to join them.

I, for one, am a member of seven different "cheese of the month" clubs.

I, for one, am a member of seven different “cheese of the month” clubs.

I have the solution. The brig. Sailing ships used to have on-board prisons. When you were out at sea for months, you needed somewhere to put your bad guys. They could build tiny little ones on aeroplanes next to the toilets, and we could throw the rogerers in them to give the rest of us a little peace and quiet. I for one would love it.

I would wait around the check-in desk until a honeymooning couple appeared, and make sure I sat next to them. The first few hours would be a little busy, as I slipped Viagra and Spanish fly into their drinks, turned down the lights and lit tiny candles on my tiny plastic table while playing “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye at full volume on my crappy little headphones. But after that, the flight would be a pleasure. It does, I will admit, seem a little unkind, but I really do need somewhere to put my knees.

Am I so wrong for just wanting a little room?

Am I so wrong for just wanting a little room?

33 thoughts on “97. The mile high club.

  1. narf77 says:

    Aeroplane toilets are only tidy at the beginning of the flight. After a few children we poor mothers are bladder compromised and are doomed and forced to pace the length and breadth of the aisle every few hours (DAMN those tiny brittle cups of water!) and as everyone knows, you just HAVE to go before you get to your destination otherwise you end up standing in a massive queue of women with their legs crossed, hopping up and down in the closest toilet at the airport. By the end of the flight those toilets are starting to look like something out of the pits of hell with twice as much sulphur. The alternative to all of this is just fly domestic. Short flights, no chance for the loos to turn into brothels and foreplay is still going strong by the time you get to your destination. I would still go to the loo on board though folks… who knows who is attempting to join the 2 inches off the ground club in the ladies loo while you writhe…

    • 23thorns says:

      All the airlines need to do is install a TV in the loos showing back to back episodes of Honey Boo-boo and Embarrassing Bodies. Anyone who still wants to have sex with that on in the background deserves whatever release they can find.

  2. Ha. Try changing a wriggly 10 month old toddler with a leaky pooey nappy whilst 4 months pregnant on the itty bitty change table that folds down in one in four of those itty bitty plane toilets. I don’t really get the appeal of shagging smeone in a small, smelly and rather unhygienic room within spitting distance of 400 or so complete and utter strangers. Each to their own I guess.

  3. Kevin says:

    I really need to start flying with you. As a fat American, we’d have a great time squished into the seats and listening to the “mile high clubbers”! Oh the adventure…. Of course, when I mention to my wife about the mile high club she just gives me “the nver going to happen look”.

  4. belsbror says:

    Hi! I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Please get the badge at http://wp.me/p32YrK-dr and get more info. Have a great Sunday. 🙂

  5. mariekeates says:

    Mind you, reaching things on supermarket shelves will then become extremely difficult 🙂

  6. mariekeates says:

    I think planes are designed for people like me with short little legs. If you just cut about six inches off your legs you will have no problems at all 🙂

  7. Spy Garden says:

    hahahahah my husband is so a bull in a china shop. As for the airplanes, I used to work in real estate and the company had its own plane and their is nothing more wonderful than drinking vodka cranberry on “your” own plane and hitting turbulence and the drinks splashing everywhere…Leaving your library book on the plane (I believe it was a Larry McMurtry novel) and being able to go pick it up at your leisure…Bill, the slightly drunk pilot…Soft tan leather…well-worn playing cards…Maybe these are the things upon which the mile high club was founded?

  8. javaj240 says:

    I think, as solutions go, yours has both merit and a certain amount of panache!

    • 23thorns says:

      It would also sort out those fools who try to drink the drinks trolley dry and then go berserk. The plane wouldn’t have to turn around and land again, and any kids on board could keep themselves entertained by throwing tiny blocks of cheese and miniature biscotti at them through the bars.

  9. Js says:

    I’m totally confused as to what this post is about, but I enjoyed it just the same.

  10. notsosupermodel says:

    Lol, I’m 6′, I feel your pain. I have had the unfortunate experience of getting my hair caught on a chandelier… and why is it that when I fly, I always have to sit behind the guy who needs to have his seat as horizontal as possible even during the dinner service? Just lucky, I guess.

  11. sisteranan says:

    i have to confess to making some of those tiny glass swans… and hedgehogs etc. It was a particularly dark and anti-social time and i’m not proud of it.
    You’d think that these little sins would shatter long before they reach an antique shop. My apologies.

  12. ksbeth says:

    great strategy at the end )

  13. Hank. says:

    “…does have a certain quiet dignity to it…” BAhhh!
    Huzzah, sir. Huzzah!

  14. Jocelyn Hers says:

    Oh, that was Hysterical! Laugh doesn’t begin to describe it. But I have to ask, did you not know that the reason one’s ears stick out slightly is so that you can tuck your knees neatly behind them on a long distance flight. It’s best to practice this before you leave so that you don’t get stiff during the flight. It also means you can rest your feet on your seat rather than having your circulation cut off at the ankles by the person in front of you moving the seat back.

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