Illustration: John Ritter
Here is a brief list of the people who have served me well: Catherine de Medici, who at some point around 1533 came down heavily in favor of the fork, giving it some degree of social acceptance (without Cate, I'd be forced to treat spaghetti as finger food); Dr. Earle Haas, who, bless his heart, on November 19, 1931, filed the first patent for a tampon (I think of him fondly every time I start to bloat, break out, or cramp); and one Mr. Erik Oley, who, on July 23 of this very year, turned to me and uttered a sentence that would forever change my life: "Lisa," he said, "when we travel with the kids, we use a rechargeable battery that keeps the portable DVD player running an extra six hours." Yes, the fork is handy, the tampon miraculous, but thanks to friend, humanitarian, and potential saint Erik Oley, my 4-year-old is now able to enter an airplane in New York and exit it in Switzerland having seen every Charlie and Lola cartoon ever made. Twice.
Traveling the World is romantic, exhilarating, life changing—and just not my thing. When I was young and carefree, I hitchhiked through Nepal...okay, I was never young and carefree—I was the 7-year-old yelling at the other kids to quit throwing stuff before they put someone's eye out, and, if you must know, it was actually my friend Adele who hiked through Nepal. I would have gone, but every time I weighed snowcapped mountains against toasted English muffins and a pedicure, questing for a backpack full of experience always finished second. It isn't that I don't sometimes gaze up at the moon and dream about uncharted territory—but since I'm rarely able to make it to the dry cleaner before he closes, getting myself to the moon seems like a real long shot. So these days when I'm in the mood to observe a bleak, dust-covered terrain with no detectable signs of life, I mix up a tall glass of Tang and check out my bedroom.
Given this overwhelming desire of mine to remain swaddled in a queen-size duvet eating Jell-O sugar-free chocolate pudding for the rest of my natural days, it is one of life's great ironies that I hooked up with a man who lives on another continent. Regular readers know that Johannes Labusch (my love monkey of 14 years as well as the father of my child) resides in Zurich. This means that I am sometimes called upon to pay a visit. My fear of flying kicks in the second I buckle up and feel that fierce acceleration pin me to the back of my seat. I then take a deep breath of stale air, and spend the rest of the trip in an endless hell of near collisions and nausea-inducing bumpiness...until the cabdriver finally drops us off at the airport.
Every flight I board has a crying baby. Me. Johannes claims that the key to being my seat partner is understanding from the get-go that it's a very bad idea to try to strike up a conversation. Frankly, if I were you, I wouldn't even try making direct eye contact, because I'll be extremely busy having a massive panic attack and will pause just long enough to shoot you a look so chilly you could store fur in it. There simply isn't enough Xanax in the world to lull me into believing that 280 human beings attempting to choose between lousy lasagna and chewy chicken while watching a rerun of How I Met Your Mother at 33,000 feet in the sky qualifies as sane behavior.
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