Walking through first class!,

Row 1: Look at this guy, wearing a suit on a plane to Minneapolis. Who’s watching, big man? Like you don’t own sweatpants. What’s he reading? Malcolm Gladwell. Of course he is. God forbid he pick up a novel for once in his life. Probably hasn’t read a real book since high school. I bet he spent his four years at Duke (because it’s always Duke, isn’t it?) getting hammered at frat parties. When people asked him what he was studying, he’d say, “Having a good time.” Then he went to business school so he could become a consultant. What a dumb fucking job title: consultant. I wouldn’t consult this asshole on how to use toilet paper. Now he’s looking at me. I bet he’s jealous because I get to wear sweatpants and he has to dress up in that monkey suit. Well fuck you, corporate America. That’s the price you pay for all that legroom.

Row 2: How the hell does that woman already have a drink? I haven’t even sat down yet and she has a drink. And in a champagne flute, no less. Is it a Mimosa? It is. It’s a fucking Mimosa. Any drink would be bad enough, but did it have to be a Mimosa? It’s like she’s just on this plane to have a light brunch, while the rest of us choke down our peanuts in steerage. I bet she paid extra to get it early like this, so she could sip it while us coach passengers did the walk of shame. I bet they brought a menu around as soon as she sat down, and it only had two options on it: Mimosa or Mimosa with Schadenfreude. Fuck her.

Row 3: Who is that? I think I know her. I’m waving and she looks a little creeped out but now she’s waving back. How do I know her? She’s stopped waving. Oh God. It’s Neve Campbell. I really thought I knew her, though! She’s just one of those actresses that looks like someone you know, you know? And now she’s going to think I’m the kind of crazy person who thinks that I know her just because I “know” her from TV. But why would she just jump to the conclusion that I recognize her from TV? Is she really that famous? I mean, she hasn’t made a movie in years. I think she was in an episode of Mad Men this season, but that’s hardly a career. What gives her the right to act like some big star? Like I don’t have the right to even wave at her? Fuck you, Neve Campbell!

Row 4: Oh look—an empty seat. The fine folks at Delta would much rather let a big beautiful seat like that go empty than let one of us filthy nobodies from the back rows use it. I’m sure just the smell of us would put all the brunchers off their mimosas. I could sit there. I could just sit down right now and see what happened. Maybe they’d notice the circles under my eyes and smell the airport-bar vodka on my breath and just let me stay there (especially if I pretended to fall asleep straight away). But then what if they’re saving it for someone important, like a soldier returning from the Middle East or something, who’s gonna come on right at the last second? (God knows Delta would never give a free seat to someone for being a practicing pacifist. They’d never say, “Sir, for your lifelong dedication to not involving yourself in wars, here’s a first class seat.”) Then business man and mimosa lady and Neve Campbell would look at me as if I were the asshole. You know what? I don’t even want to sit in first class anymore. Fuck first class.

Row 5: This is good. It’s the last row, and there’s nothing here to get riled up about. Just a young couple, holding hands across the armrest (an armrest that is almost as wide as the narrow aisle I’m attempting to drag my suitcase down). They can’t be more than twenty-five years old. Imagine, people their age being able to afford two first class tickets. And they’re both so attractive. I realize now that my life is never going to be like their lives. And that’s not just the depression talking—it’s the truth. And maybe it’s time I learned to be okay with that. Maybe, as painful as this short journey through first class has been, it might have taught me something. Maybe I can use this as an opportunity to try and be a little bit less bitter and jealous. A little more appreciative of the gifts I do have. Not everyone can even afford to fly! And at least I can count on getting those free peanuts! As if on cue, the curtain that separates the haves from the have-nots is pulled aside and I see them—my people, squashed together in the clown car they call coach. I can feel my heart expanding with demotic pride. I embrace my identity as just another member of the masses—a prince of the proletariat, a playmate of the plebeians, a hero of the hoi polloi. I love you like family, my fellow paupers. Take me into your warm, pungent bosom for the next four glorious, skyborne hours

by Tommy Wallach


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