The Persuasiveness of Free Wine

Flying back to America, I got a complementary upgrade to business class. This is unheard of in general, more so on trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flights.

So I did something I never do – I drank to excess. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a drink or two. In China, I lamented how difficult it was to find a proper place to grab a drink after work. But I don’t get drunk, at least not very often. I can’t afford to – I usually have a commute or work the next day. That’s not the point here.

In the course of my drinking, I also wrote. Now, I’ve been sitting on this post since I wrote it, because I’m embarrassed. I’ve read it and reread it, shaking my head in disapproval and disdain at my rambling, loose prose with it’s inability to hold a plot. And I’ve debated over the following point:

Do I present my rambling, drunken writing to you?

I’ve worked at cultivating a certain tone in this blog. I haven’t posted any of my especially angry rants, unless I edited them down and removed their fangs. I don’t whine. I try to keep things entertaining, or at least educational. And I have always maintained very strong control over what I say.  A second point: I have always disliked the idea of drunkenness, precisely because I have a dislike for giving up control over my body and mind. (It’s why I’m such a blast a parties – nothing better than sober wit, am I right?) Me getting sloshed at high altitudes – that was my choice, sure as anything. And what I wrote was more, well, goofy than anything I would normally write.

Then I think – well, perhaps this is just a chance to show a seldom seen side of me. The side of jean after…let me think…one bourbon, one champagne, and five or so glasses of red wine. Yeah, I mixed my alcohol – probably why my story ends as it does.

So here you go – this is what happens when you put a happy, frightened flyer in luxury and alcohol. Cheers!

Jean’s Original Post while Returning Home – Written over Two hours and Unedited

I am a little drunk.

I got a free upgrade to Business Class! Woohoo!

Seriously – the seats move to be almost flat! I get hors d’ourves and stuff! The seat has seven different controls – including automatic “ZZZ” and “landing/takeoff” functions. I don’t know how I ranked this position. I can’t afford this luxury. I sincerely hope this isn’t Fate having a joke at my expense. I’ve done so much that I hope she isn’t cruel like that. Still, I guess if I go it’s appropriate to go so unlike myself – drunk and at the mercy of a Cantonese keyboard, random switch. That’s the worst – at best I speak a little Mandarin. Having a Cantonese keyboard is like having a Greek trying to help you with French – best intentions, but ultimately futile.

Here’s the thing – I am a nervous flyer. But I have gotten better – I don’t panic so much now, because I recognize that I have no control over my situation when I am miles above the surface of the Earth. So different than climbing mountains via steep staircases and diving below the surface of the sea. I also spend takeoff reciting the aforementioned cited “Ulysses” to myself. It helps.

A Boeing plane also helps. I feel…let’s say more at ease. Boeing knows its sh..stuff. Ha! Not so drunk to curse in front of an audience intentionally. Glimpse of sobriety? I can’t release hold so easily.

The dangerous thing about getting a free upgrade to Business Class, with its reclining seats and full service menu, is that they give you just about as much booze as you want, provided you don’t act like an idiot. And I am not an idiot, so they give me all the red wine I can drink! Even though I admitted aloud to the wonderful flight attendant that I shouldn’t be mixing bourbon and red wine. Because I am going to regret it several hours from now. Though I will sleep like a drunken sailor. Bourbon is great – if you can, I recommend the Delta’s signature blend of Woodford and cranberry. With a slice of lime.

But before I start sounding like above idiot (and you don’t know how many times Spellcheck has caught me just to get this far – seriously it’s one of the few decent things this autocorrect has done so far), I’m going to say that the alcohol has made my nervousness about flying much less…less. I hate admitting fear. I hate admitting that there is something that makes me shake like I can’t control my hands. The only time I feel like this is when I play violin in concert. I’ve improved – but there are no armrests in business class. I do better when I can grip something when I get nervous. But I admit I am not nervous. This is its own kind of scary. Drinking too much is a little scary, though not nearly so scary as being unable to control your life.

I cannot control my course. I know my destination, but I put trust in a stranger. I trust that someone I don’t know will take me from countries I’ve been bred to fear, across a vast collection of depths, to my home. I am not so drunk as to realize how trusting that sounds. Positivity. There is a storm the size of America out there. There are bastards and terrorists and cracks and loose nuts and these are the things which plague my mind when I sit by myself and stew.

Ah…my hands don’t shake after…four or five glasses of red Rioja wine and a glass of bourbon. In your face, fear!!! And now I’m typing to an audience! Hello, readers! I’m drunk at 29,000 feet! They gave me a choice of three desserts! My seat reclines to a bed! Downside: No armrests to grip when I am scared.

Also I am watching the Muppet’s second movie – great when tipsy. Whee!!

It’s amusing and upsetting to the strong, disciplined part of me how stupid my body is right now. I’ve been blowing raspberries aloud everytime I remember I am over the Soviet Union. Like an adolescent. She is disgusted that I can’t be in control of my facets. But whatever, fearful me- let’s enjoy the last 8+ hours of this flight by passing out and waking up somewhere else.

Is that Ray Liotta in the sequel?! I think I might, finally, after ten years, appreciate what alcohol is capable of. Ten years too late for college, where I was the designated driver because it felt good to be better than everyone.

I will sleep now. If you’re lucky, Sober Me will see this as a great writing opportunity and publish me to the blog, for all to see!

Because I might be pedantic, and I might be random- but damn it I am smart and worthwhile and you know it!

Before I pass out – and I am fighting this very strong urge to do so, thank you Julia and your never-ending bottle of rojio – I will say that being drunk offers a different view to the world than I ever was willing to admit. I wish I could provide you profound wisdom, but I fear myself unequal to the task.

Being drunk provides no answers – only loose moralities. I’m sorry.

Only morality is what makes us special. Is what makes sex unique.

I am so sorry to those drunk teenagers hoping for resolution.



I mean – I think I caught sight of two teens making out before I passed out, which is why I waxed poetic at the end there.

And I did pass out. I had enough sense to drink my bottled water and ask for a glass of water – though I don’t remember doing this. I also put all the wine and most of my dinner back into the complementary air sickness bag (I also got a bit on my beautiful quilted comforter, which I got replaced. *blush* thank God I was the only one awake in the cabin at that point…) What a waste. Still, if there is a safe environment for experimenting with tolerances, an airplane seems like it. When I woke up about an hour and a half before landing, I asked the flight attendant (Julia, apparently) why there was a glass next to me. She smiled and said I had asked for water. I admitted I did not remember. Julia said I was one of her favorite passengers. This I do believe, because when I get tipsy I get very aware of other people.

For breakfast I ate two bites of granola and yogurt, and sipped black coffee. I woke up still drunk after many hours of blissful unconsciousness. In fact, my buzz lasted well past landing in Detroit. It was just before my connection flight that the headache settled in. I sipped water and took aspirin. I am blessed with a quick turnaround on hangovers.

I do remember Business Class, though – the seat going all the way flat, and a big proper pillow. I could curl up and let the waves of slurred air just swing me to sleep, and I didn’t mind the turbulence. They give you whatever you want, and you get a swag bag full of nice things like high end lip balm. They make it clear that it’s not for every price point up at the front of the plane, and I relished it.

And now I’m back. Back home. Technically, I’ve been back – like I said, I’ve been sitting on this post. Hope you liked it. You probably won’t see her again for a long, long time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s