Fred Flintstone, Charming Vinnie, and Row 13

You never really know how crazy you are until you’re face to face with your biggest fear.  For me that fear is flying.  Let me correct myself: It’s not really the flying that scares me, but it’s the getting off the ground that just gives me the heebie jeebies!   All that power and speed, blasting me into the sky just gives me a real–well, sinking feeling.  I am definitely not okay when taking off in an airplane.

On our recent trip to California, my good friend, Becky and I had seats aboard flights where it’s first come, first served, sit where you want.  Of course, we were always the last on board, and to my horror, it looked as if we weren’t going to get to sit together on the first leg of our flight, which was Little Rock to Phoenix.  A wonderful lady who must’ve seen the panic on my face from ten rows back, asked if we’d like to have her seat, and she graciously moved to a middle seat just to accommodate us (bless her!).  We got situated, Becky said a prayer, held my hand, and my heart began to palpitate.  My eyes filled with tears, and I could see it in Becky’s face:  What have I gotten myself into, bringing this crazy woman on an airplane?  

The plane then takes off down the runway, and to lighten things up a bit, Becky says, “I always feel like I should be running along like Fred Flintstone, helping the plane take off.”  Of course, I couldn’t help but laugh with that mental image in my head!  Once in the air, I began to relax, but then there’s that horrifying other part of the trip:  The dreaded landing.  How can we possibly stop if we’re going so darn FAST???

Needless to say, I could’ve kissed the ground in Phoenix, but then the realization hit me:  We still have another take-off and landing to go before we’re in San Diego!  Okay, more prayer, more hand-holding, everything should be okay.   See how I keep using “okay”?  That’s all I can hope for is to be “okay.”  This flying thing is totally out of my control, and if I can stop hyperventilating, that’s just what I’ll be–okay.

We get on the plane, and once again, we’re toward the end of the boarding line, so of course, there’s no two seats together . . . except there–a ways back, sits a beaming elderly man, and low and behold, the two seats behind him are available!  He even welcomes us as we sit.

Becky’s sitting next to him, and she introduces herself.  He tells her how beautiful she is, then he asks me what I do, and I tell him I’m a teacher, and–I swear I’m not making this up–he says, “I wish there were teachers as pretty as you back when I went to school!”  He tells us his name is Vinnie, and that he started the Midway Airport in Chicago many years ago, and that he is headed to San Diego to attend his granddaughter’s wedding.  He and Becky carry on a spirited conversation all the way to San Diego, with charming Vinnie actually getting her card and promising to purchase Santas from her for Christmas giving.

As we’re about to land, Charming Vinnie said the most horrific thing.

He said, “Gosh, I’m glad you girls sat down here.  Nobody sat by me all the way from Wisconsin.  I guess they just didn’t want to be in Row 13!”  Row 13!!!!!!!   I looked up, and right above me, yep, there it was, just beside the AC vent and the light–the dreaded number 13!

Becky didn’t know this, and no one else on the plane realized it either, but I let out a scream (in my head) that would have rivaled the one uttered by Vivian Leigh in the movie Psycho when she was being stabbed in the shower.  Needless to say, I left my fingernails in the armrests of row 13 that flight.  But we landed safely after sailing down the runway, yet again, at impossible speeds. But I’m fine now.  I really am.  I’m gonna be OKAY.

About prroberson

I am a southern writer/teacher and proud grandmother.
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2 Responses to Fred Flintstone, Charming Vinnie, and Row 13

  1. Sue says:

    Pat you did just fine. Didn’t know you had a fear of flying. I always love the take-off, but still don’t like the landings, and I too, say a prayer before and after the flight. You did OKAY there girl!! Hee! Love you, great story!

  2. prroberson says:

    Sue, I am just now seeing your comment! Nothing slow about me, is there, girl? I loved our trip to California, but one of the reasons I don’t get out there often is because I know the most logical thing is to fly, and I absolutely hate to fly! But what a great trip. I’m glad you enjoyed my silly story!

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