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Monday, July 22, 2013

Near-Death in Mexico City, Part 2

For Part 1 of this harrowing tale, click here.

Her side:

Russ's account of the events thus far are fairly accurate, but there are some fundamental things that he left out.

For our Puerto Vallarta adventure, we were traveling Russ-Style, which meant all-inclusive, ocean-front, and excessive luggage. 

Who needs cowboy boots in Puerto Vallarta?

(To be fair, traveling Courtney-style is equally extreme: public transportation, sharing one small backpack of belongings, and walking five miles across town in flip-flops for supposedly-famous BBQ.)

Here is what I remember about the vacation itself: I was overwhelmed by food (especially Brazilian churrascaria meat-a-palooza night) underprepared for UV rays (last time ever!) and extremely surprised by Russ’s marriage proposal.

It’s a shame that the voyage home overshadowed the diamond ring.

There were two legs of our return journey.  Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City was unremarkable. Mexico City to Dallas was horrific.

The real action started during layover.

The layover was supposed to be short—so short that we wouldn’t have time to do much more than use the restroom and maybe buy gummi bears and a box of Good and Plenty pink-and-whites. The airport waiting room was huge—it seemed that six or seven planes’ worth of passengers were in similar predicaments. 

When the flight was delayed, I think Russ was actually happy about it. He'd been wanting to go to the duty-free stores to stock up on good tequila, and now he finally had his chance. We returned to the gate just in time to hear that the flight had been delayed again.

The waiting area was packed with people and luggage and lights and sounds and chaos. Sensory overload was imminent. Even with all the stimulation, I could distinctly hear big booming voices behind us big-timing away and that was pushing me to my limit.

“I really hope they’re not on our flight,” I whispered to Russ, as the voices continued bellowing and blaring about American-Airlines-executive-club this and I-told-him-a-thing-or-two that.

I think the twisted little version of Would-You-Rather was Russ's idea, maybe to get my mind off the sensory ledge. There was no shortage of candidates we'd preferred not to share elbow space with, but in the end, we both identified The Bobs as the least desirable seat-mates. 

“You better hope we didn’t jinx it, because the way fate works, well, you know,” I hissed at Russ.  Murphy’s Law and whatnot.

Fortunately, we were filled with immediate and immense relief when passengers in rows 20- 30 were invited to board and The Bobs proceeded toward the gate. 

"See?" Russ said. "I don't know why you are always so superstitious."

Moments later, rows 10-20 were invited, and we joined the giant customs line.

Russ sailed through his station while I tried to pantomime the purpose of my hair-straightening iron to the customs official. Meanwhile, The Bobs were delayed due to something about a 300-foot drop cord.

Upon boarding the plane, Russ and I were dismayed to discover that our seats, although in the same row, were separated by the aisle. Especially since we’d only brought one ipod and a jack-splitter so we could listen to the same songs together. The King of Romance had prepared several special playlists for this express purpose. Maybe our seatmates would have mercy on our newly-engaged souls. 

The plane began to fill up, but nobody had arrived in our row yet. Would we even have seatmates? Maybe we’d each have three seats to ourselves! To heck with the playlist, I wanted bonus leg room. (I did not mention this to the King of Romance.)

And then, at the last possible second, guess who came down the aisle and impatiently demanded entry to our section?

Bob and Bob and their respective lady-friends.

"Can you believe those jerks? They stole my drop cord! Do you know how much I paid for that drop cord?! Lousy thieves," hollered Angry Bob to everybody and nobody as he plunked himself down beside me. The other Bob muscled past Russ and convinced his lady-friend that he was more deserving of the window seat.

You cannot un-jinx yourself from Murphy's Law, friends. Because of our careless words and actions earlier, we had become a Bob sandwich.

Russ and I exchanged looks of shock and horror, but I was the first to regain my wits. I narrowed my eyes at him and telepathically channeled this message:  

My Bob is more obnoxious than your Bob. I claim the ipod

He forked it over. Moments later, his Bob started singing, “ROX-anne! You don’t have to put on the red light!” in falsetto at about a zillion decibels and I felt a twinge of guilt. Not enough to make me return the ipod, though.

My Bob, who’d seemed so angry and loud in the airport, turned out to be pretty mellow once he was separated from Russ’s Bob. He sat calmly, eyes and mouth closed.

Russ’s Bob, however, was just getting warmed up. He kept on boasting and big-timing, and now the subject had changed to how skilled he was at landing planes. Eventually, the lady-friend skillfully weaseled it out of him: Bob hadn’t flown planes, he’d played video games about flying planes.

I wanted to make eye contact with Russ so that we could raise our eyebrows and suppress our giggles, but he had his hands over his face and his thumbs against his ears, trying to block out his Bob.

We’d been in the air for about forty minutes and both Bobs appeared to have fallen asleep. There was a cozy and comfortable darkness throughout the plane’s cabin, illuminated only by glow of personal overhead lights from passengers reading.

The captain made an announcement, and those who were awake sat up straighter. Murmurs filled the air, the tones increasingly alarmed, as strangers turned to one another and asked for clarification.

Did he just say we were turning around and heading back to Mexico City?

The captain’s voice returned through the intercom. “Because of our delayed departure, US customs will be closed by the time we’re scheduled to arrive in Dallas. We’ve been instructed to return to Mexico City for the night.”

That doesn’t seem right, everyone murmured. Then, the plane shook violently, the cabin went completely dark, and the emergency lights of the exit signs and aisle-runway flickered to life.

Not one passenger said a word.
The silence was deafening.


You can continue to Part 3 if you click here.

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