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A Copywriter’s Blog
Of Flights and Fat- Part 2 Ben Levy 27, August

Greetings and salutations, brave reader, and welcome to part two- Of Flights and Fat! If you can stomach the horror, you should read part one first.

When we’d left our doomed hero (me) I was utterly trapped between a scrawny girl who applied so much makeup a clown would have been shocked, and a woman who sat very much like a rhino.

That is to say dark, huge, and quietly menacing.

You can read about what happened before we even took off here. But this concerns what happened once we (amazingly to my mind) got into the air. You know the miracle of flight? I always saw it as more of a “wish”. It only became a miracle once we achieved altitude while hauling Tubby and the amazing Lardos.

You might remember that I mentioned a small child. I truly believed, upon first seeing it, that the child was intended as a snack. Up until now, it had been passed from one family member to another on the other side of the plane. Now? Now it was grandma’s turn.

The woman rested there, in much the same way the continents do on the surface of our planet, and proceeded to bounce the child up and down on her tremendous tissue-engorged bosom. I felt slightly nauseous, but that could have been the living doll next to me applying more rouge. I had nowhere to run. Clouds of blush to the left of me, babies and arm fat to the right. There I was, stuck in the middle with rage.

As angry as I was- both at this woman and at every pizza she’d ever eaten over the course of her life- it would take a complete asshole to say anything. Objectively, it’s a grandmother playing with her grandson. Realistically, it’s a walrus bouncing a harp seal on it’s blubber. And as you should be able to tell by now, I’m not a complete asshole. I’m a complete, passive-aggressive, asshole.

So I did the only thing I could. I resonated hate.

Humans have been able to resonate since the beginning of time. It’s a total embodiment of a single feeling, projected outward to those around you. It’s partly body language, partly pheromones, and partly psychic resonance. Many of us have forgotten how to do it, but it’s instinctual. Look at any mother with a newborn, and you see her resonate love. A father watching his son play sports, and you feel his pride.

Anger is the easiest thing to resonate of course, because people are wired to recognize it. It’s a self-preservation thing. If you attempt to embody love, the object of your affections may still miss it. Particularly if she’s watching sex and the city. But anger? Shit, your houseplants will figure that out. No problem.

And so I began to resonate scathing, rolling waves of negativity. Annoyance, disgust, and outright anger. I wasn’t doing anything besides sitting in a chair with my arms folded, but the call went out all the same. You know how Aquaman talked to fish? It was like that, only I was screaming at every human being at 30,000 feet in impotent rage. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the pilot and co-pilot turned to each other in the front of the plane, exchanged a glance, and said “Shit. Someone’s PISSED”.

It took about an hour. It’s possible that blubber is a natural insulator against psychic emanations. Maybe there was interference with the electronic instruments in the cockpit. Maybe the fact that I got a bag of peanuts distracted me for .5 seconds and I had to start over. Regardless, after one hour, three minutes, and 12 seconds, it was done. The behemoth passed back the child, swung the crane into place to heave her ponderous bulk out of the seat.

And lest you think this was going to happen anyway, that the bending of my entire will toward a single goal merely coincided with this event, I tell you this: As her son settled down next to me, a petite 250 lbs, he turned to me with an apologetic expression and said “sorry about that.”.

I breathed my first breathe of fresh air in over an hour, and seriously contemplated how long it would take me to walk back to New York once I canceled my return flight.

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Of Flights and Fat Ben Levy 25, August

I have traveled. And thus, I have a story. Oh, the story I have.

I had the middle seat in the row. The girl to my right had the window. She weighed 90 pounds max, but she was currently attempting to apply every product in the Revlon line to her face at once, and the cloud of sickening sweet powder produced a miasma best described as “choking”. I tried to breathe through my sleeve.

Despite the constant disembodied voice warning of a completely full flight, the aisle seat next to me was vacant. So were the seats across the aisle. A thrill of terror/glee went through me- perhaps I’d escaped the middle seat after all? Everyone had already sat down. Had I made it?

That last paragraph is what we call foreshadowing, kids. Of course I didn’t.

Their tickets claimed there were only five of them, but their weight equaled at least a dozen. As they cam closer, I could see that each was bigger than the last. Four massive family members, at least 200 lbs apiece. They carried a baby too small to have a seat of it’s own. And then there was grandma. The woman looked as though she had eaten one of her abnormally large kin for breakfast that morning.

I had a 80% chance, but it was no chance at all. “No” I whispered mentally “There’s no way. The odds are in my favor. No no no no no no-” Grandma reached the row and turned toward me. “-yes.”

And she sat.

Lest you think I exaggerate- this woman was so obese, she had to ask for an extension to her seat belt. Not that she did so initially. First, she dug beneath an ass the size of a continent, breathing heavily, until she found the buckle. Then she tried to jerk it up and over her stomach. Not even close. At this point, I imagine most people would have the good graces to feel slightly embarrassed by themselves. Not this lady. She continued to yank it, not in confusion, not in frustration, but in utter confidence. She didn’t seem to think anything out of the ordinary was occurring. I’m sure if she’d looked up she would have been baffled to see that no one else was engaged in a similar contest.

Eventually she called for the extension. Then, having utterly failed to grasp the concept of her own enormity, reached for the seatback tray. “Oh, come on,” went my inner dialogue “there’s no way she can possibly think-” She lowered it. About a quarter inch.

A quarter inch was all the room not taken up by my neighbor or the seat in front of her. So of course the tray didn’t lie flat. Again, I waited for a decent amount of shame. Perhaps a furtive glance, and a hurried motion to return the tray table to it’s locked and upright position.

Shame, evidently, is for smaller folk.

Just like with the seatbelt, Grandma the Hut sat there and tried to “fix” it. She pulled it toward her a bit. Still no go. She tried to push it back towards the seat, perhaps believing there was some “in case of fat” procedure she had missed. She flipped it back down and tried to find a part of her bulk to rest it on so that it would remain even slightly level. No dice. The tray was 90 degrees vertical, or it was 85. There was nowhere else for it to go.

Finally she gave up, and I thought perhaps the grotesque travesty would end. I was wrong. Defying gravity, physics, and mass-to-flexibility ratios, she reached down between her legs and hauled up a purse. From it’s depths she produced a wad of tissues. AND THEN SHE STARTED STUFFING HER BRA WITH THEM.

I don’t mean a few tissues here and there. I don’t mean to imply she was saving them for later, although I suppose she must have been. I mean that the woman shoved a massive wad of kleenix right down her blouse. Then she pulled out more and did it again. I swear she must have relocated the entire contents of a tissue box into her bosom. I don’t quite remember when she stopped. I may have blacked out.

Against my better judgment, I regained consciousness a short time later. Her limbs were so enormous that my left shoulder was enfolded by armpit fat. At one point I literally checked for deodorant stains on the shoulder of my shirt. I feared that I might slowly be eaten alive by that warm and swampy fold.

All of this probably took the space of 10 minutes. A ten minutes horrifying enough to last a lifetime, but ten minutes nonetheless. We hadn’t even taken off yet.

There is more to this harrowing tale, but the human mind can only take so much before getting crushed like my will to live. Come back to tomorrow for the epic, stunning, and hopefully less-nauseating conclusion to- Of Flights and Fat!

Timing is everything Ben Levy 20, April

I went back to Kentucky a few weeks ago, ostensibly to pitch work but really to drink more of the world’s best beer. Here’s a timeline of the events leading up to my flight back:

3:45- Share a beer with my AD, debrief about the pitch.

4:45- Calmly mention that we have time, our flight doesn’t leave till 5:50.

4:47- AD sits bolt upright as it registers that we need to be at the gate by 5:20, giving us about 40 minutes before we’re totally screwed.

4:47-4:50- AD and I run around like panicked idiots trying to pay the tab and hail a cab.

4:51- Cab procured. Driver seems entirely too relaxed for our liking. Attempt to suggest he might want to set a land-speed record.

4:51-
Cab driver says “Don’t worry, it’s only 10 minutes to the airport” as AD and I breathe sighs of relief. He continues “I just have to stop off and get gas first, it won’t take long”.

4:52- Argue with cab driver, consider getting out of cab, decide against it, watch out the window like lost puppies as he goes in to get “just $6 of gas”.

4:55-
Leave gas station. Not too late. Still hope.

4:56- Cabbie does it again: “You boys’ll get there on time…of course, it is rush hour traffic.”

4:56- “Rush hour traffic isn’t ever really bad here. It’s not like it stops. Oh, but I did see an accident on this side of the road earlier…”

5:00-
Confide to AD “we’re fucked.”

5:07- Finally reach airport. AD scrambles out of cab to get tickets printed.I attempt to pay with a credit card. Cabbie says “oh, is this card reader down again…?”

5:07:30-
I have exact cab fare (no tip) in my wallet.

5:08- Cabbie says cash is fine, just doesn’t want us to miss the flight. I charge headlong into the airport torn between feeling bad for not having a tip and thinking it serves the guy right for stopping for gas.

5:11- Reach security.

5:15- Pass security. (Oh right, it’s Louisville airport.)

5:15- I ask AD why we always end our trips the same way, running like idiots through the airport with a mild buzz. Voice my concerns about it becoming a pattern.

5:18- Reach gate. Only a few people sitting down. Lights are off. Door is closed. I might have half-whispered “No” in a horrified sort of way, but nobody heard me do it, so it’s cool.

5:18:30- AD and I run up to the gate lady, who looks at us sadly and says “You just missed it”

5:18:31- Horrified gasping.

5:18:32-
I look at the woman, but she’s totally serious.

5:18:40- Woman continues “the next one doesn’t come along till tomorrow”.

5:18:45- AD and I exchange mute expressions of abject defeat.

5:19- Woman smiles and says “Just kidding, it’s not even here yet.” Entire gate begins clapping and laughing.

5:19-
AD explodes with “DAMNIT WOMAN, DON’T DO THAT TO ME!”

5:20- More laughter, from all parties involved.

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Of airplanes and assholes Ben Levy 9, March

My flight to Kentucky a few weeks ago was a two-parter: Miami to Atlanta, Atlanta to Louisville. It was at the end of the first leg that the following occurred.

I was sitting in the middle of the row. The woman to my right had an air of carefully cultivated indifference. The girl to my left had the subtle yet unmistakable air of one who is heading to a very important interview, and is utterly failing to think of something else in order to take their mind off it.

She asked about the book I was reading (I, Robot.) and whether it was better or worse than the movie. I told her it was far superior, though in fact this may have been in a lie. Aside from the title, I can find almost no similarities between the two whatsoever. So answering this question is sort of like deciding whether one prefers a Japanese-made car to the original Shakespearean production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In other words, it was that old ‘Apples to Oranges’ chestnut.

However, we both agreed I, Robot the book was far superior to her own reading, which was school-invoked. I didn’t ask if she was flying to an interview, since her very being radiated a sense of trying not to think about it.

It turned out that she too, had a connection, and one that allowed significantly less time between flights than my own. As our plane was touching down, the Stewardess came over the speaker and announced: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have three passengers at the back of the plane who will have very little time to reach their connecting flights. When we reach the gate, please stay seated a moment so those passengers with a connecting flight can disembark first.”

You have perhaps heard of the miracle performed at the Red Sea? Where Moses lifted up his staff, and the waters stood apart? This was pretty much the opposite.

As soon as the plane touched down, the aisles filled. The girl with the institution-mandated reading material made it about three rows before becoming mired in a single-file sea of humanity. Her fear was palpable. The look on her face could best be described as ’stricken’.

And so I did the only thing that made any sense. I stood up on her now vacant aisle seat, cupped my hands around my mouth, and shouted “Excuse me! Some people have a connection they need to reach, could you all just sit down a second so they don’t miss their flight? Thank you.”

The response was as immediate as it was non-existent. It was nothing. No one moved.

From further down the plane, one person who wasn’t clogging the aisle caught my eye and offered up “It was a nice try.”

A common trait of copywriters is the ability to spit venom. The projectiles are purely verbal, but it’s poisonous qualities cannot be denied. “Oh certainly,” I spat “I just thought I’d appeal to some human decency, but I guess I was wrong.” From further up the plane, one of the bricks in the wall of stupidity had the gall to respond:

“I don’t think it’s an issue of human decency, as much as one of physics.”

I directed my stream at him “No, I don’t think physics is the issue. See, that seat right next to you is empty. If you could step to the right, you’d be in it. And if everyone else did that, there’d be no problem. And if you all do it for 30 seconds, you can all crowd the aisle again and no one will miss their flight.”

Deciding that physics was not his forte after all, the gentleman turned back around. Shockingly, another of the herd of humanity ventured an opinion: “I think a lot of these people have connecting flights.” It should be noted that even though this man was standing in the aisle, he did not include himself in that statement.

“They do not.” I snarled back “She clearly said there were three of them.”

However, what I would have liked to say was this: “Oh indeed, my apologies sir. I had no idea the selfish jackass convention was being held already. Of course since everyone planning to attend seems to be standing up right here on our plane, I’m sure they’ll hold the opening ceremonies until you all get there. With that in mind, why don’t you sit your ass down in that seat right next to you and let this poor girl pass. After which time you and all the rest of these self-absorbed fucktards can erect permanent dwellings complete with white picket fences in the aisle for all I care.”

I didn’t say that. I also didn’t attempt to physically force my way through the crowd like I was contemplating. I have no idea if the girl ever made her flight. I made mine. But I’d like to believe that a rhinoceros who was being transported via air freight and broke free of it’s handlers had just enough time to trample every last one of those impatient jackoffs before security regained control of it and led it off to a life of luxury at the Atlanta Zoo. Because that would please me.