Jun 23, 2006

NEW YORK –  Rail failure and traffic delays devour the three-hour safety margin I'd planned between Connecticut and New York's JFK airport.

Marie texts comforting messages like "you might make it, if everyone holds their breath and leans forward!"

I'm grateful, but dubious. Rightly so. The bus deposits me at the terminal 55 minutes before an international flight.

Somehow, against every rule and precedent, American Airlines permits me to check in. "I've never seen this before," the clerk states. "Don't even wait for the shuttle. Just RUN."

I do. Thus I hustle aboard all breathless. And in a petty moment of control-freak compensation, I take my vaccines. The smurf-blue capsule for malaria. The pink-and-white for typhoid.

Smug, I settle into my shawl and inflatable neck pillow.


Then I bolt awake, supremely nauseous. Because I had my hepatitis boosters two days ago. And they always, always make me sick, especially on airplanes.

I never learn. I always delay the bloody shots till the last moment. Who wants to be ill, after all?

Then Southeast Asia looms. Or Zimbabwe. And suddenly three days of queasiness seem infinitely preferable to a lifetime of chronic crud.


Like a pocket-protected teacher's pet, I raise my hand and beg the steward, "can I please throw up in the lavatory before takeoff?"

(Obviously I lived in Britain much too long. A red-blooded Yank would have simply barfed into the bag without apology, I'm sure.)

He nods. I unbelt and run. Barely make it.

Afterwards, I hunker down and contemplate my expensive typhoid vaccine, completely undigested in a pool of bile and blue disinfectant.


Honestly? I fish the pill out, swaddle it in tissue and jam the foul wad in my purse. Oral typhoid capsules should be taken 48 hours apart. I can't feasibly replace the dose, given my intensive travel schedule.

What's worse? Impaired protection from typhoid or contracting a new flesh-eating disease from Flight AA100's loo?

Don't get me wrong: the bowl was clearly tidy, especially before departure.

But clean enough to eat from?

I don't think so.


  1. Well, that's mighty gross.

    Would I have done that..? Possibly. It beats getting typhoid. I can say that I've never barfed in those seat bags (or on a plane for that matter) but I have to admit I've been swiping them to wrap presents in.

  2. I did not imbibe the Trainspotting pill ... I'll admit to contemplating it ... at length. But I chickened out.

    That's probably why I have typhoid now and am terrifying men into mute escapism.

    But Marie, once again I bow to your genius: If I survive this plague, I am SOOOOO wrapping every present in vom sacks forever. Ax.

  3. I must have typhoid as well. I have that effect on men too. Typhoid Marie.

  4. Oh and I didn't see any point in ruining your day earlier than when you got to JFK, but there's pretty much no way you could have made that plane. A little eyelash batting, perhaps? This must be before you caught typhoid.

  5. Maybe the fever lent color to my pale brow and sparkle to my eyes like a Victorian literature heroine?