Flights, Frights, And Too Many Sprites


My childhood desires generally revolved around three things: Nintendo, free soda, and not-peeing my pants.  So long as one or more of the preceding criteria were met, twelve-year old Tyler was a happy camper (though not literally, because the thought of horrible, Nintendo-less camping disgusted me).  It should come as no surprise, then, that the highlight of my childhood trip to Australia was not the Sydney Opera House, not the white sand beaches, and certainly not the grand influx of a fascinating foreign culture; rather, my pleasure derived entirely from the three-inch screen in the back of an airplane seat that beamed video games while a visibly annoyed flight attendant funneled Sprite into the fleshy sugar-receptacle I call my stomach.  For those lonesome fourteen hours between Sydney and Los Angeles, it was just me, soda, and a record-setting game of Dig-Dug.

As we neared the end of the flight, and as I had just finished my third consecutive viewing of One Hour Photo starring Robin Williams, I downed a final can of fizzling liquid manna as we were all instructed to buckle our seatbelts.  Before landing I gazed at my accomplishments – a mountain of crushed cans and a high score bearing my distinctive signature, “BUTT” – and gathered my things around me.  Right before I stood up to exit, it dawned on me that I had neglected to go to the bathroom during my marathon Dig-Dug Chug-athon.  At that very same moment, my bladder responded in the affirmative, as I felt the force of twenty Sprite cans push firmly against my rapidly waning urinary resolve.  I ran from the aircraft and tore my way through LAX in search of a restroom, only to be stopped fifty feet from one by the dreaded Customs inspectors. I was directed to the station of an elderly man, whose age – by my own estimation – exceeded that of the airplane itself.  As his wrinkled hands slowly and delicately plucked through every item in my bag at a sub-glacial pace, the thundering in my loins grew more painful each second.  Before he had time to wheeze “Welcome to Los Angeles,” I bolted past him, tears streaming down my face as I halted in front of a familiar porcelain friend.  I will always remember that day, and the lesson it taught me: never, ever go to Australia.

For full disclosure the illustration accurately portrays the author’s childhood bowl-cut.