It's supposed to be somewhat based on Gertrude Stein's writing techniques (a rose is a rose is a rose!), but as a fan of commas, I don't believe I succeeded completely in that effect. I am, however, quite fond of the result. I've written about this particular incident before, but this is a little bit different.
I am a failure at planes and also at airports. I am a failure at planes and airports because being at an airport encompasses every thing I am a failure at. I am a failure at punctuality, I am a failure at being calm in enclosed spaces, I am a failure at removing my shoes in a timely manner and without falling down, I am failure at being ok with not being able to smoke.
I get on the plane and a woman complains- she can’t sit up front because she’s sensitive. The woman is sensitive to another woman’s perfume. Because the woman is sensitive, the flight attendant asks if someone in the back will switch seats with her. I do not volunteer to switch seats with the sensitive woman, because I find sensitive people hilarious. I do not volunteer, because I always like to see what happens next. I do not volunteer, because I just finally got settled in my seat and am not eager to repeat the process, nor knock any other unsuspecting passengers in the head with my bags. But someone does volunteer, and that person is probably a better person than I.
The sensitive woman comes back down the aisle. The sensitive woman comes back down the aisle sporting a Christmas sweater and a face that ought not be left around dairy products. The sensitive woman comes down the aisle and sits in front and to the left of me. The sensitive woman tells her seatmate that she requires sole use of the middle armrest.
I laugh, and the sensitive woman does not notice, no, the sensitive woman takes out a book. The sensitive woman takes out a book called “Left Behind.” The book, “Left Behind,” is about people being vacuumed up into heaven, and is read solely by people who believe they are going to be vacuumed up into heaven. I am not surprised that the sensitive woman believes she will be vacuumed into heaven, since she is wearing a Christmas sweater. A Christmas sweater with reindeer and jingle bells and rhinestones and snowmen and everything else that might be on a Christmas sweater because she is just that festive and holy and that’s why she is going to be vacuumed up into heaven.
I have read about this rapture stuff- the being vacuumed up into heaven stuff- I read it in a comic-style pamphlet by a man named Jack T. Chick. Apparently, all the really holy people get vacuumed up into heaven, and then the people who are maybe not so completely holy have to stay down here with us totally non-holy people. And then, all of us non-holy people have to like, opress them, try to make them wear “the mark of the beast” and cut off their heads. Then, after they resist our forces of oppression, and sacrifice themselves, they get to go to heaven with the people who had been vacuumed up earlier. Like I’m ever going to get around to doing that. Like I’m ever going to get around to cutting anyone’s head off when I can hardly get around to picking up my dry cleaning! How can I cut anyone’s head off when I faint at the sight of blood and am no help in emergencies whatsoever? Frankly, I think they ought to have to do it themselves.
The flight attendant comes by and asks if anyone needs a a drink. The flight attendant comes by and the sensitive woman asks for a mineral water. The flight attendant hands the sensitive woman a bottle of water, causing the sensitive woman to snarl through her teeth “I asked for mineral water. This is spring water! I can’t drink this!” She says it through her teeth, in a tone I would probably reserve for someone handing me a glass of bile, and then kicking my grandmother down the stairs and then eating a puppy. But she is sensitive and I am not and neither I nor the flight attendant are completely sure what the huge difference is between mineral water and spring water. The flight attendant tells the sensitive woman that all they have is spring water, and the sensitive woman says she will write a letter to complain about this injustice. She will write a letter and have the flight attendant fired, she says, because there should be mineral water and there is not. I have a ginger ale.
Important!!! I have seen cars with bumperstickers that say “In case of rapture this car will be unmanned.” And this sensitive woman is on a plane, believing that it is indeed possible that at any moment she will be vacuumed up into heaven. If the car were unmanned- couldn’t that cause an accident? And kill people? And if this very sensitive holy woman was suddenly vacuumed up into heaven, wouldn’t that cause the windows to break and wouldn’t that also kill a lot of people? If I were this woman, which I am not, and I am not sensitive and I am not holy- but if I really, truly believed that at any moment I could be vacuumed up into the sky, I would probably avoid doing anything such as driving and flying in planes, because I wouldn’t want to kill anyone. And maybe it’s not murder exactly, but it’s at least manslaughter. I watch a lot of Law and Order. I watch a lot of Law and Order and I’ve seen several episodes of Law and Order in which someone goes to jail for doing something that could forseeably lead to another person’s death or murder. I just saw one the other day where this guy, who was clearly supposed to be the guy from “Girls Gone Wild,” rapes this girl on a bus, and then sends his friend in, saying that the girl wants to do him next, and then the girl bashes the friends head in with a champagne bottle and kills him, and the guy who was supposed to be the guy from Girls Gone Wild went to jail for the other guys murder. And isn’t one of the major commandments “Thou shalt not kill?” So how is it ok if you kill a bunch of people in the process of being vacuumed up into heaven? Do you get sent back down to hell if that happens, or are they ok with that? Are they ok with being rude to a flight attendant over having the wrong sort of bottled water? I am not sensitive, or holy, but I have lovely manners.
One thing I have learned from the very few people who think they are going to be vacuumed up into heaven that are willing to speak to me, is that it is in fact basically fine with Jesus if you are a jerk. All you have to do to be ok with Jesus and be vacuumed up into heaven, is to accept him as your personal savior, and then you can go on about your business and be as unpleasant to as many flight attendants as you like. This, I hear, is the big difference between people who think they are going to be vacuumed up to heaven and Catholics, who do not believe such a thing will occur- which is why I never heard of people thinking such a thing until I was like, 20- because everyone where I grew up was either Catholic, Jewish or not-religious-but-would-be-a-Buddhist-if-they-were, and none of those people believe in the rapture. I have been informed by the few people who believe they are going to be vacuumed up into heaven that will talk to me that the Catholics are bad because they believe that “good works”- things like helping the poor and the diseased- will get them into heaven. The people who believe they will be vacuumed up into heaven say that Jesus would really prefer that you go ahead and be a jerk, but accept him as your personal savior, and be opposed to gay people and also abortions- and if you do that, you will be vacuumed up into heaven. It’s somewhat ironic, since, as a non-sensitive, non-holy person, the thing I actually like about the Catholics is that they do some pretty awesome things for the poor. It seems kind of icky to put someone down for that. I would think that the child molesting cover-ups, or the wars, or the crazy sexism, or the tithing might be more offensive. To me, that’s like saying “You know what the worst thing about Hitler was? The fact that he was a vegetarian! Damn him!”- but then again, I am not sensitive, or holy, and I do not believe I will be vacuumed up to the sky. And if I did, I just don’t think I’d have it in me to fly in a plane or drive a car or do anything really that would surely kill or maim other people. Which is another reason why I am not interested in beheading anyone. I also cannot picture myself going about demanding that people get “666” tattooed on their foreheads. I just don’t think that a tattoo on the forehead is an especially classy look for anyone. If anything, I’d just like to demand, or perhaps just suggest, that people not wear cargo pants, or Uggs, or those shirts with flames on them from Pacific Sunwear circa 1996, or bedazzled Christmas sweaters.