I am scared of cruise ships, and I’ve worked on plenty of them, but it’s never a vacation for me. I got a ‘poseidon adventure’ fear. Ships – I am scared of ships. It’s much more terrifying than flying in a plane, and it takes a lot longer. For some reason planes don’t bother me. I don’t have any kind of flight phobia, possibly because I have already been involved in an insane high to very low altitude air accident where there were many injured, including myself, and one gruesome death and many lawsuits where I served as a witness.
I went on a hot air balloon trip in Napa Valley, which I had won in a comedy competition, and I took along a young painter, who was a fan of figurative art, which I never really took to. I am not emotional about depth of color or how much you can build up the layers of paint, but some dig it. He really did. I don’t remember his name. He was the roommate of another guy I had random 90s ecstasy sex with, I think. It’s all unclear. Oh the drugs.
We went out to the launch pad just before dawn, with promises made to our sleepy eyed faces that we would be soon landing at the site of a champagne brunch. I thought about how champagne makes my face red and how I am not fond of it. I don’t really like it still. There’s something to the bubbles that makes my stomach uneasy and there is a note in the flavor profile that reminds me of the watery, fatty jelly that surrounds a spam in the can to cushion it from the metal and keep it moist. the spam placenta. That is what I taste in champagne so don’t open that magnum on my account.
The pilot kept making jokes about crashing before we got in the basket and all the way up into the cloudless cool air, so that when we were actually about to crash, no one believed him.
We fell out of the sky too quickly to panic about it. there was no flashing of your life before your eyes because there was no time for movies. It was completely silent when we went down. Nobody screamed or anything. The figurative painter fan wrapped his body around mine just before we hit the ground. The sensation was less about falling, rather the ground was rising to meet us. It didn’t have that weird drop in your stomach feeling. It was more like “here comes the dirt – NOW!” Total quiet and then crunch of the basket breaking and then being dragged for a long time across a big field of cow shit.
Shit was in my eyes and nose and mouth. This I really remember and will always – no amount of drugs – even early 90s raver drugs – could erase that taste and smell. The propane tanks banged against my chest and didn’t explode. Everyone started screaming after the fact. After we were safe on the ground and stopped and no longer falling or being dragged. The figurative fan said “I guess this means no champagne brunch.”
If you need to go up, up, up and away for anything and you are scared, invite me along. I can be your security blanket. The chances of me being involved in another flight disaster are too astronomically high to calculate. If you see me on a plane, rest assured, you will get home safe.
But boats, that is another story. I get seasick, like nobody else. I have to dope up on Dramamine before I can even pack for a sea voyage. Usually the entire time I am asleep in my cabin, in the pitch black of the stateroom, dead to the world. The food is not good to me, something about the plenty of it is disturbing. There’s too much and none of it tastes of anything. I look out onto the water and the waves and there is no shoreline anywhere and it shakes loose an existential dread – looking at the ship around me and thinking this is all we have between ourselves and the ocean.
I try to see how long I can hold my breath and its futile. I practice treading water as I lie in a drugged stupor and I can only manage it for seconds. By the time I am back on dry land I become sick from the stillness of the ground. I can’t win.