First Class, the new love of my life

[First, a clarification on yesterday’s blomit: Sigh. This is what happens when I type and post without checking for coherency. Just need to state for the record that Mimi Smartypants was linked as an example of a blog-to-book writer worth reading- she is witty, smart, and as far as I know, not pretending her blog book is anything but a compilation of posts printed out and published (mmm, alliteration). I actually kind of sort of want to be her new best friend, not only because she resides in my home town, but also because she and her husband adopted their daughter, seemingly just because they could and why bother with the reproducing thing when there are plenty of kids out there already that need a family? (Okay, that may not actually be why they did it, but from what I’ve read we do seem to be on the same page re: the whole parenting shebang) The book-from-blog thing I read last weekend that I thought was such crap is by a blogger whose name I am withholding. For reasons having to do with discretion, politeness and not getting my ass kicked, virtually or otherwise.]

Now, on to the First Class experience. Thanks to Clod-the-brother-in-law's upgrade points I have tasted heaven, and it tastes like free booze and fantastic customer service. We pulled up to the airport with a toddler, a baby, and what seemed to be 400 pieces of luggage. As a childless traveler, I had no idea it was necessary to bring the entire contents of your house with you when you leave town. We breezed past the check-in line to the First Class counter, skipped through security, and ducked into the Admiral’s Club, a.k.a. the Golden World I Never Knew Existed. I’d always imagined the First Class lounge at airports as a separate, plain room where the wealthy could sit and have a drink without being forced to hear and see the common folk. As soon as the glass doors swooshed closed behind us and we stepped into the polished granite reception area however, I knew it was much, much more than that. We took the elevator up to the general Club area (who knew there was a whole second floor at the DFW Airport?!), and walked along the glowing corridor, admiring the fancy flooring and glistening blond wood accents, with Clod scampering ahead yelling over his shoulder “Free cookies! The drinks are cheap! Have you seen the showers?” We settled into one of the sectioned-off lounges, had some complimentary coffee and snacks, explored the place for a bit (“you can get online over there! Go look at the bathroom! Do you want something to drink?!”), then I somehow turned into Traveling Nanny as Clod and Monk left the group to play on the internet. The Niece was crabby, Baby Nephew wouldn’t nap, I was bored out of my mind. After a while, Monk, Clod, the Niece and I went on a reconnaissance mission for muffins and cookies. I admit I felt a little like a rock star as we spilled out through the glass doors and into the airport chaos. Albeit a rock star in ratty jeans, fleece jacket and sneakers.

Later, after a last-minute, 2-hour delay, we finally boarded. I don’t know the correct airplane mumbo jumbo, so let's just say that a 777 is one of those big honkin’ planes that fly to Europe all the time. That means that the First Class cabin was actually a separate area of the plane, with fully-reclining seats (including an adjustable foot rest!), wonderfully thick, quilted-comforter-like blankets, and your own personal television. None of this barely-bigger-seats-and-no-divider-between-you-and-the-common-folk nonsense. The baby had finally fallen asleep so I offered to keep him for the flight, rather than wake him up by shifting him over to Sister (and by the way, the looks on our fellow First Classers' faces when we walked in with a toddler and a baby? Awesome.) We were offered drinks (in real glasses! No plastic in First Class!) while we waited for the plane to take off. One very strong vodka tonic later and we were in the air. The flight attendants came around with warm bowls of mixed nuts for everyone. They refreshed our drinks. They cast many grateful looks my way when they saw the baby still quietly sleeping away. We were given hot towels (I daintily wiped my hands, Monk eagerly gave himself the First Class version of a sponge bath).

Did you know that on flights over two hours, First Class passengers are served a meal? The Niece chose the three mushroom pizza, while Monk and I enjoyed the salmon (with rice pilaf, a side salad, and another glass of wine). With a sleeping baby keeping me warm, a glass of wine beside me, and a book in my hand, I was more than willing to continue on to London from Chicago. But of course that is not my life.

After three days of family (felt more like ten) during which Clod disappeared at every opportunity (to go back to sleep, grab some lunch for himself, or simply “just drive around”), Monk, Clod and my brother managed to get my just-turned-21 cousin absolutely sloppy slurry drunk (paired a billiards game with shots of Crown), my mother showered everyone with guilt about the Christmas Eve service (“SOME of us are going to CHURCH.” Monk and I, heathens that we are, stayed home with the Niece and Nephew), Sister yelled at her husband, my father yelled at everyone else, six people shared one bathroom… I was more than ready to sink back into the inner sanctum of the First Class world.

The return flight was similar to the first, except that 1) with no sleeping baby on my lap I was free to drink twice as much as I had before, 2) I read a terrible book (I think I’ve mentioned this already?), and 3) my dinner was cheese tortellini in a roasted red pepper cream sauce. Oh, and 4) one of the flight attendants took quite a shine to Monk, flirting (subtly, but shamelessly) and chatting every time he walked by. Towards the end of the trip, Flight Attendant Boy asked Monk about the book he was reading, then asked to borrow it for a minute so he could write down the title. I was convinced Monk would later open up the book and find Flight Attendant Boy’s number written in one of the margins. Alas, no such move was made (but keep that idea in mind boys and girls, it’s pretty smooth, no?) and I don’t think I’d be lying if I told you that Monk was a little disappointed. Not that he would have acted on it of course, but it’s nice to feel pretty sometimes.

So here we are, back in Dallas, looking forward to raging it up on New Year’s, and ruined for air travel forevermore. Flying Coach from now on will be a real kick in the teeth- sharing the armrest, paying for my snacks, mixing with the little people… I’m thinking 2007 would be a great year to come into some serious money.

Have a safe and stellar New Year’s Eve, everyone.

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