Shakes on a Plane

The wedding itself was an extraordinary day. An amazing day. The best part for me was when I entered, flanked by my mom and dad, seeing all my friends and family look up at me with this joy-grief-hope-love expression on their faces, and then seeing my husband Ian up there looking so fine in his three piece suit. Hellew! I had to remind myself of the inappropriateness of jumping my husband on the altar in front of all our invited guests.

The wedding DJ, as I recall could have been a lot better. In fact, if I ever see that arsehole again, I’ll probably kick him in the shins and steal his wallet. Dude played Avril Lavigne at my wedding. He was an idiot.

Sadly, our wedding was also my Great-Aunt Virginia’s last day. My aunt was always at her happiest when the whole family was all together and our wedding was no exception. She spent the day with all of us, including her brother, my Great-Uncle George and even my grandmother, Kay, who had been bedridden in hospital for months. Virginia danced and hugged us all and even procured a rainbow from the rainy afternoon (that morning we peered out our windows worriedly at the numerous rainstorms that passed through and Virginia insisted that we not fret, that we would see a rainbow and we did.) But after the party ended, we all kissed each other goodnight, said our “I love you’s” and “see ya later’s” and the relatives returned to their hotels. Virginia passed away that night.

The day after the wedding was meant to be a barbecue celebration of marriage and family, as we had done a few years before, following my sister’s wedding. Instead, it was a family memorial. We all gathered solemnly at my mom and dad’s house and cried and laughed and ate leftover cake. Ian and I opened our gifts in front of everyone, which was awkward enough; sheets and cutlery, tea towels and cookbooks, a bondage leash and studded collar? Oh dear. I remember one of the younger cousins questioned, “But you guys don’t have a dog.”

“Ha haha ha ha haaa, yes, isn’t that funny!” I said as I leapt desperately for another package. “Oooooh look, a blender!”

The next day we were to leave for our honeymoon, first visiting family in England and then on to France. By midday I had some nasty indigestion. I told myself it was either nerves about flying or perhaps the rather suspect salami I had fashioned into some kind of fridge-remnants sandwich (there wasn’t much to eat as we were about to go away for two weeks and had ditched anything perishable.) However, Ian had had the same sandwich and was feeling hunky dory. The Irish tin-lined stomach strikes again.

By the time we got to the Royal York Hotel where we were to catch the airport express bus, I was turning a little greeny-grey in the face. The stomach pain was worse and my skin was starting to hurt. Ian offered the possibility of not going, of staying in Toronto, but I nearly shouted, “No! Absolutely not.” I gathered what gumption I had and curled up in a seat for a nauseating bus ride to the airport.

The check-in lines at Terminal three were excruciatingly long. Ian guarded the luggage while I skipped the lines in the washroom to bow to the porcelain gods. Every time I came back to wait with him, I looked more and more like Linda Blair in the latter half of The Exorcist. We finally got to the check-in desk where the clerk handed Ian’s Permanent Resident card back with a pissy look on her face.

“This is expired,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“WHAT?” I need an old priest and a young priest … “What. Did. She. Say. Ian?”

“I said, his Permanent Resident card expired - in June.”

“Yes, I understand, thank you … Ian?” My head spun around and I glared at him.

He stood there dumbfounded, looking the card over. I leaned heavily on the counter, palm to forehead, trying to calm the chunks that were rising.

“I – what does this mean?” he pleaded.

“(Impatient sigh and eye roll) You can leave but you might not be able to get back into the country when you come back.”

“Oh. But –"

“FINE.” I said and shoved my passport in her hand. Better to be stuck there than stuck here.

She checked us in and we proceeded to the gate. Between dry-heaves, I lay there motionless, head in my new husband’s lap, in the airport lounge, waiting for death.

Ian, still showing no signs of the salami sandwich wrath, kept asking “Are you sure you’re okay? We can just cancel.”

“No,” I wept. “Absolutely not. We’re going on our honeymoon … ullllghhhh.”

I don’t know how I boarded the plane without them shouting, “Plague!” and clearing the airport. I’m sure I looked like a zombie, all pale and greasy, with clumped-up hair. But I sat down in my window seat, took off my glasses (I’m blind without them) and gave them to Ian to tuck somewhere. I was going to try to sleep this bastard food poisoning off.

About two hours into the flight I noticed Ian getting restless. I looked over and through blurred vision, could see that his shirt was damp with sweat and he was looking somewhat confused. Without a word, his eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped in his seat. He made a sort of glottal snore that sounded like he was choking on his tongue.

Oh my god! Oh MY GOD!!!!!

“Ian! Ian? You okay, honey???? IAN?????”

There was no time to find my glasses. Completely blind, I whipped off my seatbelt and got really close to his face, squinting so I could see what was going on. He was out cold, mouth gaping open and still making this horrifying sound. I was terrified. I thought he was going to die I would land in the U.K. a widow. Between hard slaps to his face, I was pushing every button above my head, blindly trying to find the flight attendant pager. I was clicking lights on and off and turning the air up and down.

“Somebody pleeeeease get help!” I shouted. My voice had gone up to that funny panic octave and I was hyperventilating.

Finally, I slapped him really hard and he opened his eyes. The look on his face was more “Why the fuck are you slapping me?” and not so much “Oh, hazaa, I’m saved!”

I was so worked up that I grabbed the nearest airsick bag and hurled. Then Ian did the same. Then the Sri Lankan guy next to us got up and ran away.

The flight attendants came by and gave us cold water-soaked paper towels to put on our foreheads and on the backs of our necks. I tried to watch Kung Fu Panda but the ear-piercing buzz in my two-dollar in-flight headphones wasn’t helping with my nausea.

A stewardess came by with a dinner tray that smelled of soup.

“No. No. No thanks.” we said in unison.

“Are you sure?” She asked sweetly. “It’s chicken curry.”

“NOooo! No, no, no. No thanks.” She was obviously sent by the Ghost of Salami Past to torment us and the poor guy next to us. He had returned in the last few hours of the flight, perched on the edge of his seat, jumping whenever Ian moved or coughed.

By the time we landed, Ian was feeling better but I was severely dehydrated and so before we went to start our visit with my new in-laws, we went to an emergency walk-in clinic. Ah, romance!

After about five days with some tender loving mum-in-law care, some sea air and a few strong ciders, I was back to my old self.

We found out later that a whole whack of our wedding guests had come down with the same bug we’d experienced. It had actually begun with the projectile vomiting of one of my little American cousins the night before the wedding. I can’t wait to thank him when he’s old enough to drink too much ouzo, for the lovely wedding gift he shared with us all.

What I learned from this: Next time I and my husband get violently ill on a plane, I’ll make sure to ask for the contact information of the guy sitting next to us, so I can send him flowers or buy the poor bastard a drink. Also, the couple that spews together stays together.

Virginia's Rainbow - 08/08/08

1 comment

  • Kellie Kontozoglus
    Kellie Kontozoglus
    Whit, I just came across your blog from your fb posting. It was so entertaining to read the stories, listen to your beautiful voice and see all the great pics. So glad that my son actually made it into one of those stories! You look & sound great, keep up the good work....can't wait to hear this new album!....uggg, are they even called albums anymore? God am I dating myself:)

    Whit, I just came across your blog from your fb posting. It was so entertaining to read the stories, listen to your beautiful voice and see all the great pics. So glad that my son actually made it into one of those stories! You look & sound great, keep up the good work....can't wait to hear this new album!....uggg, are they even called albums anymore? God am I dating myselfsmile

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