Bring Me the Head of a Pig
Sometimes I feel like I need fancy lessons. Not always, but in certain situations.
When I’m around hunter-gatherer men, the type who like to shoot things and talk about carburetors, I feel like everyone is looking aghast at my preppy short sleeve polo I got on sale at Target. In such company, I might as well have grown up in a microfiche museum raised by two librarians. I’m not really one of the guys. I’m too high brow, too soft.
But then on other occasions, I feel like the country bumpkin who doesn’t know what fork to use and doesn’t understand why there is a dude standing at the men’s room with smelly things trying to help me. Most often, I feel out of place around fancy food. I love Southern Seminary to pieces and have been blessed to eat with Dr. Mohler and others there several times, but the number of world class salads they’ve wasted on me would prick even the most seared conscience. I keep waiting in vain for some kind of hot dog that ends in the word “stuff” or a cheese that begins with “vel” and end with “veeta.” I don’t fit in a refined culture (although refined beans? perhaps).
I found this out again yesterday when I was flying to Dallas. For only the second time in my life I was bumped into first class. I know, I know, what kind of rube am I to be impressed by first class on a Delta regional jet? Well that kind of rube I guess. Yikes, all the things the comedians taught me really were true. I was half expecting the waitress to bring me the head of a pig and someone from coach to fiddle for me.
I felt sheepish when the gate agent called me up by name and told me I was being bumped to first class. I took the new ticket excitedly, but also fearful that some Christian might recognize me in Minneapolis and then I’d have to get into the awkward “I didn’t pay for this tickets and I’m only using it so I can work on a sermon” conversation. It’s hard to look like you are suffering when you are not.
When I got to my seat a very friendly flight attendant immediately asked if I wanted something to drink. When I told her water would be fine–the bottle of water already in my cup holder thingy!–she looked at me with a mix of pity and disdain, as if I were choosing to drink out of the toilet bowl. Before the coach passengers had all boarded, she was back through the first class section again taking orders for a second time. Someone across the aisle got a lovely breakfast platter–the oats in the oatmeal looked steel cut and the orange juice appeared very freshly squeezed. I, on the other hand, turned down breakfast because I already had some of those tater tot things at Burger King.
Before the meals arrived we got large napkins placed over our laps so as to prevent spilling. Very convenient, if awkward. We also each received a moist towel. Not a towelette mind you, but a real honest to goodness towel. It was indeed quite moist, and warm too. I was so flummoxed I had to peer out of the corner of my eye to what others were doing with this special gift placed gently in our palms with sterile tweezers. While I was busy washing my hands like a peasant I noticed others were dabbing their cheeks every so slightly or wiping their furrowed brows. I guess it was like a little bath.
Toward the end of the flight I was getting hungry. So I flagged down the eager-to-help attendant and asked if I might trouble her for peanuts, pretzels, or one of those twofer packages of cookies (the really hard kind that are almost as good as Dutch windmill cookies). She looked crestfallen and told me she’d check in the back. A few minutes later she came with a bag of each, but informed me, “We don’t really serve these in first class when we serve a meal.” Shame was written all over my face, like a man who goes to Morton’s and asks for ketchup with his steak. But if I wasn’t going to get a bag of 13 peanuts at some point why did I go to all the trouble of washing my hands with a pre-moistened towel? Sheesh.
After reflecting on the day, I’m concluded that my cultural sweet spot is somewhere just north of Golden Corral and a little south of Olive Garden. A little above bowling and a little below a butterfly exhibit. I can do the zoo, but I’ll probably stop to get one of those wax figurines.
And as for travel I’m probably a coach guy. But preferably in the exit row.