I have been watching the PBS program NOVA a lot lately. They have been exploring the theories of modern Physics. They talk about Einstein and time space, Bohr and quantum mechanics, spooky action, entropy and parallel universes. Newton thought of space as a three-dimensional grid. Einstein said space could be warped and bent. Bohr proposed particles linked across infinite distance. While I listen and watch, I form an ever-deeper magnetic sink on my couch. If only I could have used Physics to confront the last part of my trip back from New Hampshire.
I connected out of Midway in Chicago. It was late in the day. The crowds roiled like muddy river water. Who cares if you’re in “A” group when you are packed elevator tight along every concourse? I decided to try the same trick as the first stretch but aim for a window seat. Madness! When I got on the plane, the first row had a couple (clearly in the early part of their shared life) in the first row, the girl in the center seat. They didn’t look particularly thin, but they did look young. When I asked, “My I take the window?” the young woman gave me the “Fine…you cow” sigh. Oh, that stuck right in my flank. Oh yeah? I thought. Oh yeah? You can’t scare me. You have no idea who you’re dealing with. It turns out I didn’t know who I was dealing with either. When I wedged myself into my seat, it became obvious that there are limits to physical space.
On one of those physics programs, the narrator explained that if all the space was removed from all the atoms and between all the atoms in the Empire State Building, the remaining mass would be about the size of a grain of rice, a tremendously heavy grain of rice. Physics is crap.
Though that couple looked no more wide than the young and limber should, they were seated, and I was not aware until I had committed myself to the third seat that all three of us were extra broad in the beam. Oh, the wretchedness. Within the padding of the flesh of my hips, I could feel my pelvis being squeezed, and squeezed. I was wearing jeans and a long shirt and a vest and the fabrics of all three began to get less and less effective. I was sweating, and the young woman was sweating and (I dare to suppose) the young man was sweating. To try and reshape my body I braced my feet on the bulkhead. My legs trembled. My bladder migrated up to just underneath my lungs. I tucked by shoulders forward and leaned against the outside of the plane, and my spleen supposed I was being crushed by Puritans in the seventeenth century. “Confess! You have practiced witchcraft. You have allied with the devil.” Oh, no. Oh, NO! “It was Tituba. She made me; she forced me.” (Oh, yes. I went there. I went to The Crucible.”) My belly pushed forward and threatened to release an alien being implanted there to grow as a parasite until it burst forth and began dripping acid saliva on everything. My arms became loaves of wet, stale bread. I looked out the window and saw a lizard fly by.
That was the first five minutes of the flight.
If there had been a machete nearby when I got off that plane, I would have I would have happily hacked off chunks of my self–my arms, my thighs, my substantial hips, my big old feet. As a finale, off with my head!
I’m recovered, a little bit. I have begun again to work-out with more enthusiasm. But, I know this game. My flesh knows nothing of Physics, nothing of logic. My flesh is a stubborn structure–fierce, hard, and gushy at once. My flesh resists all lessons and all subduing forces. Thus, I will not carry it on a plane again for a long, L-O-N-G time. Perhaps in future I will take the train.