In the men’s room in Paris, my eyes are blood shot and my face the colour of custard under shallow golden lights. As I slap water against my skin and try to recognize the face in the mirror, all I know is that the seven hour red-eye flight was true to its name.
Hours earlier, in the darkness of the cabin over the Atlantic ocean, a child started to cry and didn’t know when or how to stop. All the while, the polite man in the window seat, head shaved and every exposed inch of skin inked in tribal symbols, crucifixes and skulls, snoozes gently with his head against the window. Three empty tasters of wine and a candy wrapper litter the tray before him.
I fight the disorientation of the cabin pressure and the shifting time zones by watching trash on the little screen. First up is “Assassin’s Creed”, nearly two hours of consistent 4.5/10 film-making. It starts with a laughable title crawl clearly written by a teenager with an active imagination. The movie then becomes so self-serious that it’s silly and offers middling entertainment. Feature number two is “Passengers.” Twenty minutes of intriguing sci-fi character building hinting at claustrophobia and the pantless bearded men we all become when no one’s around – and then an hour and a half of male gaze empowerment and fantasy. Not great.
The flight began with turbulence. The constant refrain over the intercom “the drink service will resume once the disturbance is past.” Four three hours into the flight we taste our first cup of water. It’s gone in a gulp and we both order several more waiting for the dinner cart to make its rounds.
On my end, dinner is tofu, noodles and pickled ginger. Tastes like yesterday’s leftovers. It’s arguably the best food I’ve ever had on an airplane.
We land in Paris, and walk for fifteen minutes through glass corridors looking for our transfer, wondering why there isn’t a conveyor belt to carry us along. Across the glass, people sit in colour coordinated leather chairs the colours of m&ms. And then we see there really is an m&m store, adjacent to a miniature Disneyworld.
The airport is pretty and manicured, but the food choices suck. We walk back and forth from end to end hoping there’s something more than a McDonald’s and cold lunch meat sandwiches. The promising cafe / bistroy has grilled veggie paninis on the menu, but today there’s only keish and tuna.
Everyone who works here seems rude. Maybe it’s because we’re in France.
I wash my face and brush my teeth in the men’s room. Everyone who walks in looks at me like I’ve done something forbidden.