(Spoiler alert: I hate being the fat guy on a plane. I hate how uncomfortable it is for me. I hate how uncomfortable it is for others. I hate that I felt like I needed to create a clever name for a seatbelt extender. I hate it all — from trying to squeeze into tiny latrines and trays that poke into my belly to bumping into everybody while walking down the aisle. Apologies in advance if you have to sit next to me. With that in mind, I wrote my thoughts during a short flight to document what it’s like being the fat guy on a plane. I’m hoping it will help me do something to improve my flight plight, among other things.)
Flight DL 4196 • 11:52 a.m. • March 3, 2016
I’m seated in 17B on a Canadian Regional Jet, headed from Toronto to Detroit. Memphis, one of my favorite culinary destinations in the world, is my destination. I spoke to a colleague last night about how much I love the BBQ in the home of Elvis. Central BBQ, next to the infamous Lorraine Motel, has the best collection of ribs, lathered in succulent sauce, juicy brisket, smoked turkey, baked beans, cole slaw and other sides, if you ask me.
I just stretched my back and felt a slight pop, a comfort-producing pop. My body is contorted and squeezed into the narrow blue leather Delta seat at an awkward angle so that I can fit between the man of average stature in 17A and the aisle arm rest. His black coat and elbow are resting against the left side of my body, which is too large to be contained in the space of one airline seat.
The aisle armrest is currently lodged between a blob of my belly fat, my right thigh and a rib or two. I’m leaning to the right in an effort to keep as much of me as possible away from my sleeping seat neighbor and on the side of the aisle. I’d rather be extra uncomfortable than intrude on his expensive personal space more than I already am. That is why I spend so much time religiously trying to get row seats, after all.
We’ve taxied to the de-icing station andi
I nodded off while thinking of what to write next. I didn’t set an alarm this morning and was fortunate to wake up at 9:22 a.m. so I could meet another writer in the lobby at 9:30 to pick up a cab. I didn’t sleep very well. I rarely do nowadays between waking up to go pee and, even worse.
I just nodded off again.
Even worse than waking up to relieve myself, my sleep is often interrupted by acid reflux attacks. It’s not unusual for me to wake up while coughing up acid, which sears my throat. B.
I just nodded off again and my short sausage-like index finger accidentally hit the letter B on the keypad of my iPhone 6 Plus.
We’re zooming down the runway and just got enough propulsion and lift to become airborne. My body shifted in the seat a bit and I’m thinking that I’m very happy this is only a 40-something-minute flight. I’m now wondering what the person next to me on my connecting flight will be like. Hopefully it’s a thin woman or child. Or better yet, maybe nobody will be next to me. That would be perfect. I’m only Gold Medallion so I’ve given up hope that I’ll have high enough status to get a first-class upgrade out of Detroit, which is a hopping Delta hub.
We’re far enough into this flight — ah, there is the 10,000 feet above altitude chime — that I’m going to lift this arm rest up so my body can expand to its normal size and relax a little. I just shifted my body and am more comfortable now. I’m guessing that move was welcomed by my neighbor who is no longer in contact with my left side.
My right leg, hip, arm and protruding belly are now taking up about a fourth of the thin aisle on this CRJ900 plane. We won’t be in the air long enough to get the beverage service, so I don’t have to worry about squeezing back into my uncomfortable position to avoid being clipped by a cart. I did just get in the way of a passenger headed to the bathroom. He twisted sideways but couldn’t avoid brushing up against me.
I used the words “normal size” in regards to my body a few sentences ago, but I realize there is nothing normal about my expansive state of being.
Normal-sized people don’t have part of one bum cheek partially hanging over the seat.
Normal-sized people aren’t worried if they’ll fit in a seat or if they’ll annoy their thinner neighbor.
Normal-sized people aren’t asked to switch seats to go to the side of the small plane with two passengers per row instead of one to balance the weight of the plane.
Normal people don’t consider changing flights to perhaps catch a redeye to avoid a middle seat.
Normal people don’t ask about getting a “More of Me to Love Belt.” That is what I call the seatbelt extender. I find that creative name less humiliating to ask for, and it almost always makes flight attendants chuckle.
I briefly nodded off again.
And, while editing this, again.
Normal-sized people don’t stand on their bathroom scale, like I did before embarking on this trip Sunday, and see the black digital numbers 3-6-6 flash on the gray screen.
That was four days ago. I bet I’ve gained three or four pounds since then.
My goal while in Toronto for a brief two-day business trip was to experience the Canadian culinary concoction “poutine.” That happened yesterday at lunch. I ordered a “Wow!” size portion of French fries drenched in brown gravy and topped with cheese curds. It was enough food to feed a small village. It was so much that I only ate about two-thirds. I added extra calories to that gut bomb of a meal by drinking a bottle of full strength Canada Dry ginger ale and by dipping part of the poutine into ketchup. Have to admit, that combo of savory gravy and sweet tomato sauce with cheese and fried spuds was delightful.
While in Canada, I also ate quite a few ketchup chips (yes, I have a ketchup problem), a large bag of peanut butter and chocolate cups …
Ugh. The flight attendant just reminded me that I need to put the aisle armrest down for the landing, so the hard piece of plastic is digging into my right side, causing uncomfortable sharp pain again.
We landed and I put it back up, so at least that didn’t last long.
In Canada, I also ate a large bag of a hard toffee-chocolate candy, a good-sized bag of chocolate-covered Kit Kats, nachos, a large mango chicken burrito with a creamy sauce and a ketchup-covered omelette with bacon, toast with raspberry jelly and fried potatoes.
It all tasted great.
It all made me feel horrible.
We’re now pulling up to the gate. I’m about to take off the More of Me to Love (Loathe?) Belt.
Now I’m hoping I don’t have to walk too far to catch my connection.
At least I was able to quickly jump out of my cramped seat so I could stand in the aisle while waiting to disembark from my flight.
The guy in 17D just looked at me. I’m guessing he is thinking that he’s relieved to have not sat by me.
He sat next to a normal-sized woman. They probably had a normal, comfortable flight.
That sounds nice. Really, really nice.