Monday, January 3, 2011

Suburbs of Our Discontent

"O, it
offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to
very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but
inexplicable dumbshows and noise."

(Hamlet 3.2.8-13)

What I love about Shakespeare is that he could find the humanity in all kinds and classes of people—but he still knew the difference between having a first-class seat and a crappy groundlings ticket. And when push came to shove, you know he wanted him a piece of the good life.

On our flight out to Seattle to see my in-laws last week, I lived the inexplicable dumbshows and noise of row 37 (aka the last row that can't recline and that's next to the bathrooms). Wedged halfway into the aisle, my face (there is no nice way to put this) ass-level with every passenger waiting in line to use the lavatory, head jerking up at every explosive flush as I tried to get a minute of sleep between my kids' alternating demands for food, water and electronics —the trip was a case study in bourgeois torture techniques.

But then, on the trip back this weekend, I got me the golden ticket. (Well, my husband got it, but was then wise enough to know that he should fork it over.) That's right. I'm talking about the first-class upgrade, and a little slice of heaven I like to call seat 1F. Oh, yeah, baby.

It's hard for me to say what the best part was: the warm croissant and hot coffee in a real mug; the 5-hour BRAVO marathon of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" that I could watch without interruption and in complete comfort; the warm cookie; the absence of asses in my face.

I was like a low-level groundling who'd made it up onto the stage with the other high-paying patrons. Was I actually in the same theater seeing the same show as my husband, wedged between our kids in the middle seat of--oh, yes--row 37 by the bathrooms?

I wonder if Shakespeare felt this way when he finally hit it big and bought his family a coat of arms. Was he ever able to stop and enjoy his upgrade, or was he always looking over his shoulder, toward his version of row 37, waiting to be pulled back?

I know my romance with seat 1F was the short-lived stuff of Fairytales. But, oh, parting is such sweet sorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. It reminded me of the time my whole family (!) got upgraded, and my then-four-year-old spent the time between Logan and Heathrow watching the Disney Channel, and ordering Cokes from his airborne Barcalounger. On the way home, back in the steerage "seats" for which we'd actually paid, he flagged down a flight attendant to ask, "Um, yady? Where's my TV?" (As the saying goes, It's hard to take 'em back to the farm once they've had a taste of gay Paree!)