Well, folks, here we are yet again...overlooking the precipice of the College Football Playoffs. Found ourselves in the same position last season, right? Facing a Big10 team the Tide was supposed to beat, a team against whom Alabama was the favorite? Well, we all know how that turned out...
So this week, after time for the holiday pause (during which time I'm sure a host of you folk had the chance to rekindle your Hoodoo fire and create tales of embarrassment and woe anew), I'm going to implore you to do the damn thang like you've never done it before. I, for one, reeeaaally want this Natty, y'all. This type of defense only comes around once a generation or so, and I am personally going to be heart-broken, crest-fallen and all that other hyphenated shit if our beloved Crimson Tide cannot manage to win the whole damn thing this season.
Therefore, as Hoodoo Operator Supreme, I'm going to have to do something I rarely do ‘round these parts...I'm going to have to not ask, not request, but demand a Hoodoo sacrifice on behalf of Football Loki and the whole of Bama Nation. For you see, it will take the joint Hoodoo karma of each and e'ry one of us to pull this one out. I'm talkin' ‘bout the strong stuff people...lay it down with authority. The boys are counting on you, and Football Loki is already in a pissy mood (hint: he hates the holidays...season affective disorder and all, you know).
Now some of you may say, "But OWB...shouldn't we save our best Hoodoo for the National Championship? I mean, I wouldn't want to blow my load too early..." To that, I will quote the poet laureate of New England, one Emily Dickinson, in providing you with a resounding "BITCH, HELL NAW!" It's exactly that kind of thinking that got Bama's proverbial ass handed back to it by those heathen Buckeyes in last year's playoffs. You people are entitled, I tell you what.
You will Hoodoo hard, and you will Hoodoo long. You will Hoodoo from the depths of the valleys, and to the peaks of the mountaintops. You will Hoodoo with your best material in the here and now, for as the Good Book tells us, "Nothing is promised for tomorrow today." The Tide doesn't win this game, and all the Hoodoo in the world won't win us a Natty. How many of you left high-quality Hoodoo on the table last season, unused, because you figured that first round would be a cake walk? Let us not commit the sin of the repetition, aight? Let's Hoodoo like it means somethin' to us, like we can't stand still, folks...aight?
This week, I had to reach into the deep recesses of me old Hoodoo trunk...reminisced over a few tales of ribaldry, finger-flipped through the pages of Hoodoo ledgers past. And then it hit me, after sitting over the Yuletide holidays in close proximity to two of the loudest and most unbridled human beings I've ever encountered, I stumbled upon a tale that I'm not sure I've ever shared with you fine folks in the past. It's a good'un, got some shame all tied up with embarrassment and plenty of curse words. And now, here go my Hoodoo...
So, to begin, a humble admission. Now you folks know from my past recounting here that I tend to skew a might bit (okay, a lot) towards baddassery. Throughout most of my life, I've been a hard-drinkin', fist-fightin', gun-totin', hell-raisin' minion of poor behavior, short temper and ill-gotten gains. I wasn't born a fighter, but this world turnt me into one at a young age. I remember it like it was yesterday...the time I finally became fed up with being pushed around. After a good taunting, I just snapped and choked out a Polish bastard from up the street during a pick-up football game, all because he called me a "fat ass" after I ran him over on a toss sweep.
Something happened to me that day, a switch flipped. I went from a cowering daisy to an explosive terror willing to throw knuckles at anyone who shot me the skunk eye. It was empowering and liberating, to say the least, and I never turned back (at least not until old age made me do so).
In my old neighborhood, I became known for fightin' anybody, anytime, anywhere. Now I was smart enough to keep myself out of trouble at school, but that didn't mean asses didn't get kicked and left strewn about the lower Alabama countryside on the regular by young OWB. I cultivated this persona, took a certain pride in it, enjoyed the reputation I had grown as a tough guy. As an older man, I know such tools of influence are not necessary in civilized society, but as a younger man, I prided myself on my ability to intimidate and get the job done with my fists if necessary.
Now this isn't a pointless bout of braggadocio, no'siree. I say this to explain to you that deep within this hardened shell of a man lies a burning terror that I have never been able to conquer. For all my self-reported badassedness, I must admit to you people, I am not without fear. I know I'm not alone in that, as we all have some phobia cross to bear. Some of you people are scared of clowns, some are afraid of spiders, others are afraid of confinement in enclosed spaces.
But me, my greatest fear (despite my 6'4" stature)...is a fear of heights. There, I said it. Now you know...OWB is a chicken when it comes to high places.
I mean, I lock up completely. The first time I had to go to a meeting in Mobile's (and Alabama's) tallest building, the RSA Tower on Water Street, I was petrified by the prospect of a trip to the 30th floor. I stewed about the height, the ride in the elevator, the whole nine yards for better than two weeks after finding out about said meeting. So intimidated was I that I had one of the security personnel ( a very kind woman) make the long ride to the 30th floor with me the first time, feigning confusion about the way one has to use his security badge to access the elevator controls. Embarrassing, right? I'm a grown ass man, and I needed a hand-holder to run the damn elevator. (Okay, it's not that funny...you can stop laughing now...seriously...stop it.)
While tall buildings and high bridges give me the pure ole willies (I just pissed my pants a little even typing the word bridges...I need a damn Depends undergarment every time I have to drive over I-10's infamous Dolly Parton Bridge traversing the Mobile Delta), nowhere is that dreadful, paralyzing fear of heights more pronounced than during the course of air travel. Airplanes scare the hell out of me, y'all. And it has nothing to do with Al Qaeda terrorists or shoe bombs or any of that shit...(I mean, I wish a terrorist would, mffkr. He wouldn't know what hit his ISIS ass...there's a reason you don't hear about any terrorist strikes in Alabama...shit just ain't goin' down like that here, aight?)
No, my fear of air travel stems from the extreme height, overly-graphic media reporting of airline accidents and a complete loss of control once one steps aboard and within that elongated metal flying tube. Have you ever really thought about it? I mean, you're basically putting your life in the hands of some cat who probably spent the previous three hours in the airport lounge sucking down hi-balls and doing lines off of some lounge lizard's breasticles. Not to mention, have you seen the folks they have maintaining these high-speed, high-altitude death traps? I've seen more reputable folk runnin' the Tilt-A-Whirl at the Greater Gulf State Fair. Then there's the whole "flying over the ocean" thing...Hell, they still haven't found one of those planes they "lost" last year...I mean, wtf is that? How does ‘at shit even happen? It's a damn plane, with radar gadgetry and such all up in it. Lost airplanes, crashed airplanes, poorly maintained airplanes, drunken frat boy pilots...yeah, sign me up for air travel, that sounds just grand.
That said, there have been two occasions upon which I've been coerced into one of those shiny metal death traps, both times against my better judgement. The first was when I was nine, and my family was traveling to Nova Scotia for a reunion. I didn't really have any say in that matter (I was nine), and I have successfully blocked out most of that awful two hours from Atlanta to Boston. The only thing I remember about that flight, in fact, is the food: I was presented with a half tomato stuffed with creamed spinach, heretofore referred to as "slop." I mean, what nine year old would be excited by that shit? I revolted at the site of this monstrosity.
"Um, ma'am, Mrs. Stewardess lady, what is this? This is my first time flyin'....is this a decorative tomato?"
"Oh, no, son. That is lunch. It is called ‘Tomato Francaise'." Surely she was kidding. It didn't look like food. It looked like something dropped from the posterior of a creature that ate tomatoes and spinach.
"Oh. Where I'm from, we call that there slop. Y'all got any white bread and bologna back ‘ere?"
Needless to say, I was not the favorite son of that particular flight. No little plastic Delta captain wings for this lil' cracker, no sir. Nonetheless, I survived the ordeal, and I was able to avoid air travel for nearly another decade before the specter of plummeting aeronautical death haunted me once again.
Allow me to set the circumstance. I had graduated from college...the year was 1997. My cool uncle, the college professor, the one who drank like a pirate and spent more time pursuin' fish than women, had arranged for all of his nephews to spend the week in Big Pine Key, Florida...you know, just fishin', eatin', bird-doggin' the fine Florida women in all their bikini-clad glory. A guys' retreat, a latter day He-Men Boys' Club.
Only problem was that instead of making the 16+ hour drive from Mobile to the Keys (as I was more than fking willing to do), the group collectively decided we should fly. I rebelled, said I'd drive myself. But my mama hit me with the guilt trip, played the diabetic card, said she didn't want B-Rad flyin' alone just in case he had insulin problems.
So though a gun was not literally held to my head, one could say I was coerced at the point of an insulin syringe. My uncle booked us flights, which would entail flying on a puddle-jumper 727 out of Mobile's rather podunk airport to Atlanta, where we'd connect to a larger flight bound for Miami. From there, Uncle Russell would pick us up and drive us the rest of the way to Big Pine Key.
Now, I must say, I was not pleased about this. No sir. I had just spend four years in college and was on the brink of beginning my adult life. Be damned if I wanted to squander it away in a ball of flame careening from the sky over some part of southeast Alabama (or worse, Georgia). Finally, I had to have a heart-to-heart with my mama, as I was having serious reservations (read: paralyzing night terrors) involving this airborne trip to south Florida.
"Mom, I just don't think I can do it. I cannot get on a plane."
"Sure you can, it's just butterflies, you'll be fine once you're in the air. And I'll give you something to help take the edge off."
The promise of sedatives was helpful, and after a short pep talk from my uncle via landline, I determined not to let my phobia overcome me and deny me what would rightfully be one of the best trips of my life.
The next obstacle was figuring out how I would corral the rather large personalities with whom I'd be flying. After all, I'd be antsy enough about the whole 30,000 feet in the air thing...last thing I'd need would be worrying about my loud-mouthed brother, my kleptomaniac cousin and their collective lack of human decorum.
When I say lack of human decorum, what I mean is that these two boys, together as well as independently, were the loudest, most vile, most vulgar and most socially unacceptable people in my circle of familiar folks.
My brother B-Rad has a penchant for saying the rudest, most inappropriate things at high volume in the most inappropriate of places. For example, I offer you Exhibit A (and I'm sure I've told you people this one before), but at my grandmother's Thanksgiving table, my brother felt the need to (at a high volume, mind you) describe the nature and texture of his first wife's private regions, detailing that she in fact was in possession of a three-inch penis as well as the requisite female equipment, but that it in no way made him homosexual since said proboscis could not achieve erection. At Thanksgiving. At my grandmother's dinner table. With my grandmother and other family members sitting there, mouths agape in horror.
Exhibit B: At a relative's Catholic funeral, in the presence of half of Mobile's collective law enforcement brass, B-Rad proceeded (in the church foyer after the service) to tell everyone (again, at Scott Cochran-esque raspy volume) about how his current wife's family is intimately associated with Hezbollah (not really, those summitches ain't so much as set foot in the Middle East) and that Lebanese women (his wife is an American of Lebanese ancestry) ain't afraid to send pics of their nether regions, so long as the recipient promises to only share them with other family members.
"Yeah, ole OWB has seen ‘em, see the vag and e'rythang. I didn't show ‘em to my half-brother though, against custom." Went on to say the first time he undressed her he had to remember which wire on the suicide bomb vest to disconnect first, the red one or the black one, before consummating their relationship. He then let loose with a high pitched jihad trill, you know what I'm talkin' ‘bout. At a funeral. In a church. In front of police officers and other members of the Department of Homeland Security.
So inappropriate on so, so many levels. Needless to say, the boy has no sense of timing, no inkling of propriety.
My cousin Mok was maybe a degree more elevated in regard to his perception of propriety, though he found more subtle ways to embarrass me and shame our family, such as shoplifting trinkets on EVERY SINGLE TRIP INTO A CONVENIENCE STORE. He'd gank cigarette lighters, he'd steal ink pens. He'd steal candy, he'd stuff beers in his pockets and walk out of the store all casual-like. Hell, when he worked in the meat department of a now-defunct Mobile grocery store, he routinely stole beef filets when he worked closing by wrapping them in shrink wrap and dropping them down his pants legs. You seriously couldn't take the boy anywhere, and his theft constantly put me in jeopardy of being made an accomplice to his tomfoolery.
And he wasn't much better than B-Rad when it came to shouting profane things in public places. Even when it wasn't profane, it was ridiculous and inappropriate, like the boy was stricken with a bad variety of tone-deaf Tourette's or something. We'd walk into the distinguished, ancient, silent library at my college...one could hear a pin drop. That was, until, without prompt, Mok would belt out (completely off key, at that) "LEVON!...LEVON LIKES HIS MONEY! HE MAKES A LOT THEY SAY!" In the worst, faux-Elton John dialect that has ever been perpetrated against the ears of collective mankind. Heads would turn, snickers would wrinkle through the waves of bookworms. Librarians would stare over the tops of bifocal lenses in disgust.
Really, Mok? Did that really need to be said at this point? Could we have not waited for that until we got back in the car? Jesus H. Christ. The boy just wasn't right.
The two of them together were the verbal-effluent equivalent of the old vinegar and baking soda volcano...mix ‘em, shake ‘em up and watch the messy explosion. A better metaphor may be the old muriatic acid-penny pressure bomb trick...mix those items together in close proximity and you get a flurry of loud noises and shredded mailboxes....in other words, total destruction.
As the oldest on both sides of my family, I was charged from childhood with keeping my heathen cousins, and heathen-er brother, in check in defense of our family name in the court of public perception. Couldn't have people thinking our family was stone-cold crazy based on the yipping and yelping of the collective brood, and I was the Mary Poppins of the bunch, responsible for herding this particular group of ill-mannered chezzie cats. I never resigned that role, and it has carried on to adulthood, though some of my relatives have indeed mellowed with age.
So imagine my situation...not only would I be flying, but I'd be trapped in a metal tube with these motor-mouthed mullet-heads for hours, with my life hanging in the balance mind you, as we made our way south. As the day of departure arrived, I seriously just wanted it all to be over.
As mom dropped us off at the airport, I could feel the yips closing in on me. I was shakin' like Michael J. Fox at an Eddie Money concert. I wanted to back out. Mom could see my tension, and offered me her closed fist, concealing something in her palm.
"Here, take these. Once you're on the plane, ask for a Scotch and swallow one. You'll likely wake up in Miami before you know it." She dropped into my hand a pair of oblong blue football-shaped pills, which I immediately recognized as Xanax (after all, though my mama didn't know it, it would not be this cowpoke's first Xanax rodeo). This, in fact, quelled my fear to a degree, as I figured it wouldn't be so bad if I was asleep...at least I wouldn't know I was plummeting out of the air in an aluminum fire-coffin of death.
The foolishness with the two jackasses started before we even got on the plane. B-Rad had decided to try to take a piss before embarking, and when he exited the bathroom, he began to tell us (at high volume) about how "some fruit" had sidled up in the stall next to him, tappin' his foot until B-Rad asked him what was wrong. The guy's answer involved the proposition of B-Rad passing the time with the fella in a bathroom stall before his later flight out. "DUDE WAS A COTDAMN FRUIT!" B-Rad yelled, his voice echoing though the terminal and drawing the stares of our fellow travelers. When the culprit, a middle-aged man in a business suit, emerged from the restroom, B-Rad continued, "THERE HE IS...THERE'S THAT OLE PICKLE-PECKER'D FRUIT, LOOKATEEM!"
Great way to start off a trip...my brother yelling down a closeted male in the airport terminal. And we were heading to Key West, no less, the San Francisco of the Southeast. This did not bode well for the possibilities for cultural outreach, tolerance of diversity, and personal growth.
The first leg to Atlanta was otherwise uneventful. I decided to gut out that 45 minutes sans Xanax, saving it instead for the flight down to Miami. After navigating the terminals at Hartsfield, and preventing B-Rad from fighting "some fat bastard" at the gate because the guy asked him to quit cussing in front of his daughter, we were on our way to Miami. The stewardess brought a snack, since it was a short flight...some juice and peanuts, an assortment of Lance crackers.
"This all we get?" B-Rad hollered. Mok chuckled. The stewardess nodded timidly. "Yeah, y'all some cheap mffkrs."
The stewardess was not amused. I, of course, apologized, said several members of my party had too much to drink before the flight. The stewardess left, a look of consternations stretched thinly across her face.
"Shut the fk up, y'all, I'm not kidding. I'm gonna take this and go to sleep so I don't die. Don't do anything stupid."
My last admonition apparently didn't take. I awoke to loud voices, namely my brother's, as he argued with the stewardess a few rows back. He was standing next to the seat of a young blonde woman who had caught his eye prior to boarding the flight. The stewardess had apparently approached B-Rad, since the "fasten seatbelts" sign was illuminated and he was up and at ‘em.
"I don't care, I am talkin' to this girl right now, I don't want to sit down. I'm a grown ass man, you don't tell me what to do."
"Sir, please, regulations require that you sit when we are attempting to land." (Note: I didn't like her verbiage there, "attempting to land?" Like y'all ain't sure you can land this mofo? But I digress...)
I did the Xanax shuffle over to B-Rad and grabbed him, again apologizing to the stewardess and shepherding my brother back to his seat.
"You can't do that, there are laws about it and shit. Can we just get off the damn plane without you causing an international incident?"
After a sketchy landing on a wet run way that seriously almost caused me a coronary, we went about with the trip. It was pleasant, had a lot of fun, spent time on the water and in Key West. All too soon, it was time for the part of the trip I was dreading, namely the flight back.
Thankfully, I was in possession of one more magic bean, which I had kept secure in the watch pocket of my jeans the entire time. It was my life preserver for that flight home, as I had been traumatized enough on the way down that I'd have almost rather walked home than gotten on that sky-bound death trap with my two compatriots.
We went through the gate and loaded aboard the plane destined for Atlanta, where we'd catch a connecting flight back to Mobile on a smaller plane. I popped the Xanax and drank my Scotch, following the prescribed recipe for flight-induced stress-relief. Things were fine, I dozed most of the way, woken only by the sporadic hollering of my brother or the bellowing laughter of Mok. We touched down on Georgia soil, and I was relieved I had but only 45 more minutes before my time in the air would be over for good.
We boarded the smaller 727 and prepared for the last leg. However, the Captain came on the PA system, with an announcement no one wanted to hear.
"This is your Captain speaking. We're going to have a little bit of a delay in departure as the ground crew performs a little maintenance to the aircraft. It should only be a few minutes and then we'll be on our way. Thank you for your patience."
"Maintenance? What? You mean you are doing maintenance right before we take off? Ain't nobody tested it out after it was maintained, just gonna get right up in the damn air?" My mind was racing. I didn't like the idea of "maintenance" on a plane I was about to fly (or, more likely, die) in...no sir, did not like that one bit. We sat for 10 minutes, which stretched to 30 minutes, which stretched to an hour. My Xanax was buzz was wearing thin. Tales of airline disasters past began to creep into mind. All the while, B-Rad became more "vocal" about his "disappointment" in the "delay." And Mok fanned the flames by guffawing like a baboon. IT was getting to be too much for me to calmly navigate.
"What the hell is taking so long? Something must be broken. This plane is not safe. I want to get on another plane. I'm getting off the plane..." I was about damn-near total panic. I motioned for a stewardess.
"Ma'am, I need to get off of this plane. I can't stand this."
"Oh, I'm sorry, you can't do that unless there's a medical emergency."
Shit. Double shit. If I didn't get off that Chariot of Fire, I was about to have a medical emergency in the form of a massive heart attack or an aneurysm.
To help matters, my brother decided to amuse himself with his own mouth. He started up his ridiculous (and offensive) chattering.
"'Ay, you see the tits on that stewardess? Dayum, I'd motorboat them bitches." All said at high volume, as you can imagine. Mok was cracking up, drawing more attention to us. The rest of the plane was quiet, except for these two idiots who obviously didn't know we were on the brink of death. My mind kept a-wanderin' to all kinds of disaster likely to ensue on the flight home. I half-expected the Captain to pull back the curtain on the cockpit, revealing to us the Angel of Cotdamn Death, with the scythe and everything, wearing a captain's hat and some of them there Delta captain's wings, like a damn ole airborne Boatman over the River Styx or somethin'.
"SHUT UP!" I scolded them.
"Aw man, I'm just funnin'...but she do got some big ole tittays though." An older lady in front of us turned around with a look of disgust. I couldn't blame her, B-Rad had removed his mouth-governor and was just spoutin' off like a filth guyser. Unfortunately for her, B-Rad was unphased by the weight of her gaze, as he had grown accustomed to looks of disgust from ladies of all ages.
"Turn yo fugly ass around, ain't nobody said nothin' to you," B-Rad said to the lady. Her husband looked back at B-Rad...wrong move. B-Rad feinted at him, causing the ole man to flinch.
"HAHAHA, look at that you, you ole bastard, scurred...what you goan do?" The full ghetto was comin' out in B-Rad...this was going to a bad, bad place. The plane was still stuck on the tarmac, I could hear bangin' up under the aircraft that did not instill confidence in my survival. And Mok was howling, clownin' with B-Rad on our fellow passengers. It had started with the older couple in front of us, but now, the Dynamic Duo of Debauchery had fanned out to spew janks on other folks.
"Look at that one over there, looks like his ass fell out the ugly tree and hit e'ry branch on the way down."
"And that one, with her Mr. Ed lookin' ass...'why the long face?'" Keep in mind, all of this was said at high volume. We had become the center of attention on the plane, and not in a good way...no one but B-Rad and Mok was laughing.
A stewardess approached. B-Rad whispered, "here come that big tittied one, watch ‘is..."
"Excuse me, but you gentlemen are going to have to be quiet. You are beginning to be disruptive."
I burned red. I was so embarrassed, and there was nothing I could do about it. I prayed to God that either he'd strike me dead, or get this jalopy of an aircraft off the ground so that this trip would be over sooner rather than later. It was pure torture.
Then, B-Rad stepped over the line.
"Lady, I'll do whatever you say you let me play with them sweater-puppets of yours."
I immediately felt the need to make some excuse to explain his heathenism. I played the trusty diabetes card.
"Um, I'm sorry, but he's diabetic, he's having an insulin reaction. Do you have any honey or orange juice anywhere? That'd certainly help." She smiled uncomfortably, not sure if she believed me or not. She disappeared and returned shortly after with two four-ounce cans of orange juice from the beverage cart and a few packages of peanut butter crackers. I thanked her, apologizing once again. Put that fire out...for the moment.
But dammit. The wait was gettin' to me. I was stressed to the limit, I had endured enough. I decided that in the absence of a medical emergency, I would manufacture one. I decided to feign a heart attack in an effort to get my ass off of this death caisson.
At that moment, the Captain came over the PA again.
"This is your Captain, I once again apologize for the delay, but it appears everything is ready for takeoff. There was a problem with the landing gear, but the ground crew has resolved it. Please buckle your lap belts and prepare for takeoff. We will be underway shortly."
"What? WHAT? WTF DID HE JUST SAY? LANDING GEAR?"
This, my friends, was a revolting development. I envisioned the ground crew, standing around the landing gear, beers in hand, while one wrapped duct tape around some vital part or other. I had a vision of said ground crewman mouthing, "aw, fkit, it'll be okay" as he tore off the length of tape.
It was too late to disembark. I knew I was done for. The engines whined, the plane vibrated. B-Rad continued to rattle on, but I didn't hear a word he said. The Xanax tide had receded, and I was left with the scorching burn of irrational fear, fanned to flame by the presence of malfunctioning landing gear. The plane took off, my knuckles clutched white upon the armrests for at least the first 15 minutes.
It was terrifying. I just wanted to be back on the ground in good ole Mobile, AL. If I had the good fortune of putting my feet once again on that sweet, fertile piece of Delta bottom land, I swore I'd never leave it again. I bargained with God, promised to give up smoking (and I did...like five years later), I promised to go to church (I did that, too...once...three times if you count funerals). I promised that I'd never, ever, never-ever-ever-never-ever be a party to that demon-inspired attempt to match God's height known as commercial flight. Had I learned nothing from Icarus? What had I been thinking?
The short flight went for over what seemed like hours (though in reality it was closer to 45 minutes). The Captain's voice again spoke, notifying us that we were approaching our destination. For the first time, I looked out of the window and recognized my beloved Bay, I saw downtown Mobile pass beneath, and as we approached the airport, I saw Big Creek Lake. We were almost safe.
Then, as I continued to track the ground below, I once again saw the Bay, and downtown and Big Creek Lake. A few minutes past...once again, the Bay, downtown, Big Creek Lake. Again...Bay...downtown...Big Creek Lake...
Was I trapped in some interdimensional infinite loop of hellish proportion? Was it fking Groundhog Day? Was I Bill Murray? What was going on? I thought planes, like, landed after reaching their destinations. 15 minutes went by with the flight still circling Mobile.
Then the Captain's voice crackled over the PA.
"This is your Captain, we are circling while we wait for the landing gear to deploy, but we'll be landing shortly..."
"WAITING FOR THE LANDING GEAR TO DEPLOY? WHAT? DID HE SAY LANDING GEAR...?"
I knew I was going to die. I was certain of it. Now, I wasn't a pilot, or an aeronautical engineer. But I was pretty damn sure it was difficult to execute a landing without landing gear. Panic level at 1000...
The Captain spoke again.
"This is your Captain (mffkr, we know damn well who you are, just tell us if we're going to die), we are still having trouble deploying the gear, so we're going to deploy them manually, stand by for landing"
This was it, I thought. No more mai-tais, no more Jane's Addiction concerts, no more sweet lovin' with a fine big-legged woman of my choosing. Nope, I was gonna die on this God-forsaken hunk of aluminum and piss-poor avionics, apparently. I mean, if you can engineer something to fly but not land, that's a definite problem.
For some reason, I felt it appropriate to get out of the seat and sit on the floorboard of the plane, as if being that few inches closer to the ground would possibly save my life in the event of a crash landing. Mok laughed, B-Rad was like, "WTF?"
Ignoring them in my final moments, I began to pray. I resigned myself to death's embrace, and made peace with my Maker.
"Dear God, I am sorry for using your name in vain, like, all the time. I'm sorry for peeping at MaryBeth Robinson's mama through the bathroom window. I'm sorry for stealin' codeine cough syrup from my mother and replacing it with Robitussen. I'm sorry for lookin' at smut pics underneath the bridge in the ditch... I'm sorry for using Cliffs Notes to get through that 8 a.m American Lit class junior year..."
I felt vibration through the floor and heard a groan. The Captain came across the PA once more.
"This is your Captain (WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE COTDAMMIT, SPEAK!), landing gear has been deployed. Please fasten your lap belts as we prepare to land."
Holy Mother of God, thank the little bitty sweet baby Jesus in the wooden manger wrapped in swaddling clothes in the presence of the magi and all the animals and the hay. Thanks Mary and Joseph for having a precious Baby, thank the Holy Ghost for doin' that whole Holy Ghostin' thang. I was going to survive, against all odds. The plane touched down, and I couldn't wait to get off of that there death mo-sheen. I grabbed by carry-on, pushed past an old lady or two to the gangway and put my feet on solid Mobile ground just inside the gate.
I dropped to my knees, fell over onto my back in ecstasy. I wallowed around like a Labrador playing in a freshly-raked leaf pile, while my brother and cousin stood over me, looks of disgust plastered across their faces.
B-Rad spoke up.
"Dude, show some decorum. Embarrassing."
"Yeah man, have a little pride," added Mok. "You look like an ass."
I didn't care, I was on the ground and I would never be in the air again. I have kept my promise, looking at aircraft from afar but never again stepping onto one. I've instilled in my children a healthy (read: absolute) terror of anything that flies, so that they'll never ask me to go on any vacation that requires us to take to the air. (Just to be safe, I've told them that all airplane trips carry a 95% chance of death and suffering. I mean, you can't question statistics, they're like all sciencey and shit. Also, it's in the Bible, like the 11th Commandment or something on one of them broken-ass tablets Moses must have dropped, says somethin' like "Thou shalt not fly, and thou shalt keepest thine hindquarters firmly affixed to the dome of the Earth"...seriously, it's in there. Read your Bible.)
I can only imagine one circumstance that would lead to my big ass being on an airplane, and it would have to involve some sort of planetary disaster of cosmic proportions, or if the life of one of my children depended on it.
There you have it, friends. My darkest secret, my irrational phobia, my biggest fear. Pull a gun on me, and I'll laugh at you. Drop me in a pit of asps and I'll pet them mofos. Pull a blade on me and I'll fight you to the death...just, whatever you do, don't threaten to put my ass on an airplane.
After all, if God wanted my overgrown ass to fly, he'd have pinned big ole bumblebee wings to my back. He didn't, so I ain't getting' on no airplane. Nuh-uh. Fk that shit.
Beat Michigan State, this ain't Sparta...Roll Tide.