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Lessons From a Wise Sky. How to Behave Poorly on a Plane: a Primer

Anyone can behave considerately on a plane, but it takes real talent and a will of steel to make an ass of oneself in such a controled environment. If you follow these simple guidelines, however, you'll have no problem--but you'll certainly cause a few.

1. Piss-poor comportment on a plane begins even before the plane has left the ground, in fact even before you've boarded the bird. Here's how: Your boarding pass clearly states that your seat is 18f, but go ahead and get in the queue when the ground crew invites rows 35-50 to board the plane. If you muscle your way all the way to the front of the queue, you'll be perfectly positioned to carry out number 2.

2. Do NOT be in hurry. Take your time placing your twelve carry-on bags in the overhead compartment, and stick your behind into the aisle so that no one seated in rows 35-50 can get past you. If you're lucky, you'll be solely responsible for a late take-off. You won't be loved, but you will be noticed. And, after all, it's better to be noticed than loved. Right?

3. Headphones on? Check. iPad on? Check. Seatback reclined? Check. Tray table down? Check. If your mobile telephone is working, you should take this opportunity to call 20 people and have ridiculously superficial conversations--loudly--so that you miss the announcement to 'turn off all electronic equipment, return your seatback to the upright position and put your tray tables up'. Now, here's a nuance that slathers gravy all over this one: pretend you don't speak English when the flight attendant tries to get you ready for take-off.

4. You'd think take-off wouldn't avail you of any opportunities for practicing your piss-poor plane comportment--but it does. Why not stand up and go to the lavatory? The one in the front of the plane is best: you'll look more like a terrorist. Short of screaming 'I have a bomb!' getting out of your seat during take-off or landing is the piss-poorest prank you can pull on a plane. And I'm done with the Ps. No worries.

5. Fart. A lot.

6. Did you know it's considered good behavior to return your seatbacks to the upright position during meals? You won't want to remember this. In fact, to mix things up, you'll want to go horizontal on the guy behind you just as he's leaning forward to take a bite of his penne pasta in tomato sauce or just as he's leaning forwad to sip his red wine. If you do this just right--and with the right thrust--you won't make any new friends, but you will be noticed. (See number 2 above.)

7. You're generally a happy person. You enjoy meeting new people, and you love to talk. And talk. And talk. Who's the most entertaining rowmate on the plane? You are! If you're rowmate is reading or listening to music or watching a movie, stare at him until he has to look at you. "What'cha watching, amigo?" Expect an answer. If he doesn't remove his earbuds, remove them for him. And then talk, about anything. Tell this person your life story. Ask him to take notes.

8. And because you enjoy hearing yourself talk, you'll want to entertain the flight attendants while they're trying to get ready to serve 400 people dinner. Amble back to the galley and just talk...about anything. Talk to the flight attendants about your travels, about your family, about your health problems. And because we need a bit of gravy on this one too, hold a glass out occasionally for them to fill with red wine (it's their job!). Then ask for the bottle when they try to leave.

9. If you don't feel gassy at least you can smell bad generally. Bathing before boarding a plane is considerate, but it probably won't get you noticed . . . unless you bathe in something cloyingly pretty. Don't do that. Be noticed. Be strong.

10. If you really want to be noticed on a plane these days, you need to get a little wacky. If you've done all the above, you're on the right path. Why not take the path to the pinnacle of piss-poor plane comportment? (Sorry, I really really thought I was done with the silly alliteration.) Throwing up is nice, but make sure you do it ON someone. Don't waste it. And, whatever you do, don't apologize. After all, you were the one who was sick. You are the one who matters here. You are the center of attention on this flight.

Read other installments of Lessons from a Wise Sky.

I must be off,

Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O'Type, available from Amazon Anything and lots of other online bookstores. If you ask your local bookstore to order it, you'll get a sweet virtual kiss from the author.

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