Monday, May 20, 2013

Poundstone Begets Sedaris, or Keeping a Straight Face at 10,000 Feet

 Yes, it was just a couple of weeks ago that I posted about laughing out loud in several random locations while I was reading Paula Poundstone’s book, I Heart Jokes. I feared being thrown out of the car dealer’s waiting area, and was visibly ostracized in the dermatologist’s office. I can’t help it if I have a sense of humor. Really.
So how weird was it when I was flying home from Sacramento last week reading David Sedaris’ hilarious new tome “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls”?

The flight began with the usual spiel from the flight attendants. This time, though, “Mandy” included a mention that we were being flown by ‘two of the best’ pilots Southwest has. Really? So is there an official ranking of the pilots? If so, does that imply that you sometimes start out telling your passengers that they are being commanded by ‘two of the most average’ pilots in the realm. Or even worse, “Ladies and gentlemen, today we are being piloted by the two very lowest-ranked captains working in the industry. Let me assure you, though, that they are still going to get us there. Or so they say.”

But I digress… Back to my reading material. After all, if we are in the hands of the best Southwest pilots around, why bother listening to what to do in the event of a water landing.  How much water is there between Sacramento and Vegas, anyway?

Again, I found myself chuckling lightly at first, then slammed with Sedaris’ crazy observations that would elicit a real belly laugh. Realizing, however, that any peculiar behavior on an airplane can lead to wildly undesirable consequences, I tried to put a lid on it. I can control this, I said to myself. I know he’s going to be extremely funny, and I can stifle the giggle response.

Well, that was easier said than done.

Every time I chortled, even softly, my seatmate wriggled uncomfortably. Geez, it’s not as if I was singing Whitney Houston songs, and disturbing the general calm of the passenger population. In fact, I heard every word of a conversation between a man and a woman in the row ahead of, and across the aisle from me, for the whole 2 ½ hour flight. I doubt seriously that anyone more than one seat away from me could hear me laugh. And no one tapped these people on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, but I don’t care to know about your workflow, your security procedures, or what your toddler will and will not eat. Keep it down over here.”

Still, I worried that someone could do more than look askance at me while I cracked up over David Sedaris’ observations of his father, his partner and himself. I worked a little harder at self-control.

Then I came to the section about learning foreign languages, and the phrases that he picked up. Self-control went out the proverbial window. I defy you to read about his learning German, hearing jokes in a bar, or his meeting readers at book signings without laughing out loud.

The flight attendant glanced over at me. I put Sedaris back in my carry-on. At least Time magazine could be read with a straight face. For now.


  1. Hey Leah! Well, you just can't stop being amused, can you? Come over to my blog; we'll nip that nonsense in the bud. Indigo x

  2. I'd rather have someone near me who is happy and laughing than someone muttering, crying, screaming, or singing off-key. I think you should just go ahead and laugh! Holding it in can't possibly be good for you. :)

  3. You two, Indigo and Nancy, are so kind and generous! Thanks, as always for checking in. I can only aspire to deserve your loyalty!

  4. Flying is always an adventure.

    I always seem to get the people next to me who want to hog the armrests.

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