Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How the Other Half Flies

Let me start by stating something obvious: Flying sucks less when you're in First Class.

Is the captain pouring coffee?

I never fly First Class so I had forgotten that it was any different. I am pretty ambivalent about flying in general -- don't hate it, not scared of it, but certainly don't love it. Sometimes flights can be excellent for being productive/getting work done or catching up on reading. But sometimes you end up next to a crying baby or a chatty weirdo who wants to play 20 Questions.

When I was kid, I flew First Class a handful of times with my parents on long flights. The first plane ride I recall was when I was 6 and traveling to Switzerland. I sat next to my mom in the roomy leather TWA (R.I.P.) seats. I don't remember much about the flight, but I do remember receiving a chocolate-covered Oreo before take-off (presumably a bribe to keep me on my best behavior during the 7-hour flight) and thinking that the tray tables that came out of the arm rest were funny-looking.

Ever since I've been buying my own airfare, I have always opted for the cheapest seats available. I don't have long legs, so I don't even splurge for the EconomyPlus extra legroom seats. Just good ol' coach. With the rest of the non-rich plebes. I have to admit, I didn't get the allure of First Class -- we all arrive at the same destination at the same time. Okay, the First Class people get to get off first (and get on first, but I don't see the advantage of that. I want to minimize my time breathing recycled air in a confined space). And I suppose the ratio of lavatories to people is better, since they have their own bathroom that's off-limits to the masses.  

However, due to the generosity of a friend, I was able to experience First Class as an adult. And while I still don't think the extra expense is worth it/necessary, I have to admit, it made flying enjoyable as opposed to just a way to get from A to B. 

First of all, the getting-on-early has the perk of a free pre-flight drink. That's pretty nifty. Though if you get something alcoholic, you have to down it pretty quickly, which may lead to regret. Also, in First Class, the flight attendants make a point of knowing your name. It's like Cheers, at 35,000 feet. Pretty much everything in First Class is free. Oh, and blankets and pillows are still available, like in the old days. 

Speaking of the old days, apparently First Class used to be much more glamorous. A friend recalls on a flight to Hawaii watching a stewardess (they weren't called Flight Attendants back then) carve a prime rib roast right in the aisle mid-flight. That was sometime in the late 80s. Hot food is pretty much non-existent on most flights nowadays. And if there is food, it's not gratis.

My conclusion is that I think my money is better spent on things other than first class airfare. Traveling is already mighty expensive (remember when it was free to check a bag?) and for a little more comfort for a few hours, it doesn't seem justified unless you have truly disposable income. Still, it was a fun glimpse of the other side of the blue curtain. Which, for what it's worth, I agree with Kristin Wiig that it should be kept open "because of Civil Rights."    

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Single or not, gay or straight, young or old, I think we can all agree that this is a quality love song:

If you have a special someone, I hope that he/she is more attractive than Lisa/Johnny and that you have lots of rose-petal-covered sex tonight.
And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to rent or buy Tommy Wiseau's 2003 classic film The Room as soon as possible. If you purchase it from the official movie website, he'll sign it for you! Trust me that this movie is the gift that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jalapeno Hands

This person is in for a world of pain

Last Sunday, I experienced pretty severe pain due to my exposure to capsaicin, the compound in jalapeno peppers that makes them hot (and has been weaponized into pepper spray). Apparently, it was not wise of me to de-seed and slice two dozen giant Whole Foods jalapenos without wearing gloves. Thus I bring you the latest chapter in my unusual medical misfortunes (which have included a kidney stone, an allergic reaction to jellyfish and a bellybutton cyst).

My Super Bowl party was a classic Katie Vagnino hapless debacle even before the kick-off. As usual, what started out a small, low-key event escalated out of my control. The guest list went from less than six to ten people, and the menu expanded from just chili and chips, to chili, 9-layer dip, cornbread, guacamole, and bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers. I really needed a sous chef. Especially when around 3pm, it dawned on me that when I had looked up the kickoff time online (6:30), that was in EST. I keep forgetting that I no longer live on the East Coast, you guys. So at 3pm, I had TWO hours before my guests would start arriving, not three. FML.

I lowered my head and got chopping and initially, I was making good time. I got the chili on first, then made the guac (one of the 9 layers in the dip). Around 4:30, I started prepping the poppers, figuring, we could eat them at half-time (they only need about 15 min in the oven). I cut up about 6 of them and then remembered that I hadn't yet put on any make-up. I know it's the Super Bowl and whatever, but I did not want to receive guests (some of whom I had never met) without my face on. So I washed my hands thoroughly (or so I thought) and went to the bathroom. Oh, VANITY.

You can probably guess what happened next -- I accidentally touched my eye and all hell broke loose. My face turned splotchy and red, my right eye clenched shut, and yes, I started screeching. My BF Chris was there and immediately got online to find the cure: milk. I needed to put milk IN MY EYE. Somehow, we managed it as a team effort -- I dribbled enough in that the pain started to abate. Then predictably, the doorbell rang. Party time!

I opened the door with a giant milk stain on my shirt and my right eye still swollen shut. Fortunately, my guests were gracious enough to not run away in terror. 

You would think the absurdity ends there, but it doesn't. I abandoned the poppers for a while, but the unfinished task bothered me. Those jalapenos had gotten the best of me. I had promised in the Facebook event invitation that there would be jalapeno poppers. SO GODDAMMIT, I was going to finish. I just wouldn't touch my face.

So I made them. And they were delicious, stuffed with a cream cheese and spicy mustard blend, and wrapped in bacon. They were gone in minutes. Everyone enjoyed the food, drank beer, watched the game. After a rocky start, the party ended up being okay, more than okay. 

Then about an hour after everyone left, my fingers started tingling and not in a good way. Tingling transitioned swiftly into burning and a Google search of "finger burns from peppers" confirmed that I had "jalapeno hands." 

There were dozens of sites where people told stories similar to mine -- chopped or handled jalapenos and had burning hands as a result. But the problem was the everyone had different suggestions as to how to best relieve the pain. Based on internet suggestions, I tried soaking my hands in:

--cold milk
--vegetable oil
--hot water with dishwasher soap
--lemon juice
--nail polish remover

Cold milk worked best, but only temporarily -- I soaked my hands for literally two hours but the second I took them out, the burning came back. Around 1am, I needed to try to find a solution in order to sleep. I couldn't bring a bowl of cold milk into bed with me (though I'm sure my cat would have been psyched). One woman on a website insisted that urine (because of the acid) would do the trick. I considered peeing on my hands. It was a dark hour.

But I didn't. And then another "natural" remedy caught my eye: saliva. As one commenter astutely noted, your mouth doesn't burn for hours when you eat jalapenos, so it must be doing something right.

I climbed into bed warily. And started sucking on my fingers. And holy Jesus, IT WORKED. The miracle of science!  My mouth did burn a little, but it was nothing compared to the pain on my fingers. Saliva is strong shit, man! After about thirty minutes of licking and sucking on my hands (yes, I know, gross), the pain subsided enough for me to pass out. And when I woke the next morning, it was totally gone.

Jalapeno hands. I don't recommend them.