Angst in my pangst

It’s hittin’ me right now pretty good. Hittin’ me like I’m sure it’s hit just about everybody else who has flown somewhere on a commercial jetliner in the last two months—that “post-terrorist-fear-of-flying-but-I-don’t-want-to-be-a-weenie-so-I’m-gonna-go-ahead-and-be-a-good-American-and-get-on-the-goddamn-plane” syndrome.

So, yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and get on the goddamn plane. It’s the belated birthday visit to my daughter, who turned 13 on Sept. 15. I was supposed to fly out to her party in Colorado back then, but, as you’ll recall, air travel at that time was a bit on the weird side, so this is the trip I promised to make once things settled down a bit.

I may have waited too long. Now, Attorney General Ashcroft has us on the highest state of heebie-jeebies and is worried that Osamists in this country are close to launching some kind of dastardly new offensive. This is not especially the swellest mindset to take to the airport. But the kid did her bit to console her old man a few days ago, telling me not to worry, that the terrorists’ next move will probably be more along the lines of a bunch of suicide truck bombs.

Also ruining my plan to be a cowardly milksop and totally bail on my flight is, of all people, my mom. She already flew back to Denver a couple of days before me and reported that it was absolutely no sweat. Swell. So if I bail out now, I get aced out in the guts department by freakin’ Grandma! That ain’t gonna fly.

So I will.

As I prepare to have my first post-9-11 flight experience, I find myself indulging in what must be the same nightmares and fantasies that every other person who has boarded every flight since that date has indulged in—nightmares based in incredibly macabre images of being blown up. The fantasies of heroism are based on images of us passengers attacking hijackers and successfully subduing them in a massive rugby-style pileup of bodies, while suffering only minimal cuts from their slashing but ultimately overwhelmed box cutters.

I have a fave fantasy featuring me as the guy who starts the uprising of the passengers. See, the bad guys have already made their move, and they’ve got a couple of flight attendants subdued and under their control. And being hardcore fanatical bad guys, they’re getting ready to terrorize all of us into submission by slitting the throats of their hostages.

But just before they can commit these most foul deeds, I burst out of my seat, move into the center aisle and pull a golf ball out of my pocket. I sling the ball at the lead hijacker, nailing him flush on the noggin with a perfect, laser-like throw. He yells, “Ow!” At that point, nearby passengers take their cue, jumping him and his evildoer buddies, and everybody goes down in a tussling, cursing, desperate heap.

But hey … can a guy get golf balls onto a plane these days?