Tag Archive for: Fear of Flying

John Madden, Whoopi Goldberg, and Me

Also: Isaac Asimov, Aretha Franklin, Woody Allen, the list goes on and on.

We’re all perfectly sane, rational people, who are reduced to whimpering, pathetic blobs or medicated walking zombies when we click on an airplane seatbelt. We’re aviatophobic or as Erica Jong would put it, we’ve got a fear of flying.

Have I gotten on an airplane in the last five years? Yes. Does my husband still have full circulation in his left hand? For the seven hours it took to fly to London last year, I had him in a death grip that made Darth Vader look like Barney Fife.

Personally, I believe that if God had wanted me to fly, she would have given me feathers. I’m still holding out for the Star Trek transporter. “Beam me to Paris, Scotty” or if I’m being energy efficient, “Beam me to Paris, after you drop off Uhuru at the mall.” I’m not sure why I think trusting my molecules to Scottie is safer than a Delta flight, but at least the Enterprise’s engineer had a perfect on-time record.

Unlike a fear of rectangles, aviatophobia is not so debilitating that I have to deal with it on a daily basis. Most of our family is within driving distance, if you define driving distance as being on the road for 15 hours straight. Oddly, I have no fear of putting my loved ones on planes. What does that mean Dr. Freud?

I’ve got bus envy. John, Whoopi, and Aretha all have luxury-fitted buses to criss-cross the country. Me? It’s either Greyhound or drugs. Consider Madden’s motor coach (since it cost $800,000, it’s no longer called a bus or even an RV). In any case, his home on the road has a master bedroom with its own bathroom and steam shower, a full kitchen with granite flooring and countertops, a satellite TV, three plasma television screens, surround sound and high-speed Internet access. Sounds better than the house I live in. Think how incredible book tours would be if you had one of these babies to fire up and go.

Best flight I ever had was last October. I flew to Jacksonville for a family wedding. My doctor had prescribed Ativan for me – a wonder drug that doesn’t take away the fear, but at least makes sure that I don’t make a total, hysterical idiot of myself during the flight. I’d successfully tried out this medication a few months earlier on another trip and felt like I’d finally found a solution. Not a cure, mind you, but a way to endure, if not enjoy, a longer trip. Dutifully, I refilled the prescription the day before the flight. I popped two pills just before I walked down the gangway.

I wish I could tell you that it was a smooth flight. I wish I could tell you that it left on time and arrived early. Actually I could tell you that, but it’s all hearsay. I had no more than sat down in my seat than I was asleep. In a move that would be perfect for a murder mystery, Death by Not Paying Attention, I had inadvertently ingested double the prescription dose. (Each new pill was 1 mg, instead of the .5 mg pills I had taken months earlier. Had I read the prescription, I would have realized that I was only to take one pill, not two).

“When is the plane taking off?” I roused myself from a very comfortable nap.

“It did, it flew, and it landed. You missed it.” My husband explained, not totally unhappy to have enjoyed a trip with the use of both hands.

“Huh.” I wasn’t very coherent (that day or the next). But it occurred to me that it was as close as I was going to get to Scotty and the transporter. A trip that was over in what felt like a minute. Granted I slept through it (at what point is it considered unconscious?). But worked for me, worked for my husband.

We’re thinking of a trip to San Diego next summer. Think that Aretha or Whoopi want to share a ride?

Evelyn David