Last week, when I wrote about my series of unfortunate events in travel (and related it to serial obstacles in personal finance), I left something out. I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate or relevant to write about it, but I believe it is.
Stuck on the runway
Mishap #5 of my trip home from Washington DC two weeks ago was a flight delay. “But no sooner were we buckled into our seats than the captain announced that we’d have to wait about 20 minutes for a weather system to pass. That 20 minutes turned into 2½ hours – on the runway – in a small, prop airplane. We would miss our 4:30 pm connecting flight in Toronto. Ugh!” Impatient frustration and a touch of stir-crazy claustrophobia settled in as the minutes ticked on. Nobody was happy about it, and many of us were texting family and friends, explaining our predicament and adjusting plans for pick up.
The woman seated right behind me was likewise on her phone. She was talking with a friend – I’m guessing another woman – and she started out with the complaint we were all experiencing. “Poor me. Stuck on the runway, looking out the window.” Her voice was louder than it needed to be on an otherwise silent plane, but that wasn’t an issue … until her conversation veered in a different direction.
Sex talk – on a small plane – stuck on the runway
“I hope I see Drake. He’s from Toronto … There are a lot of hot Canadians. To tell you the truth, that’s why I’m making this trip …”
(“Oh well,” I thought. “Better than trapped boredom.”)
“Ryan Gosling is Canadian.” It was clear that the woman’s friend then mentioned the name of another “hot Canadian.” “Oh my God! Oh my God! If I could see him, I would … I would … I would …”
(I cringed as she tried to find the words. “Please don’t say what you would do!”)
“I would be degraded!”
(At this point, my sister and I just looked at each other – wide-eyed and incredulous.)
“… My lover broke up with me last week-end. He was so sweet about it …” It was clear that the break-up had happened via Skype or something like it. “Now, just suspend any judgment and listen. He said that he couldn’t go on always waiting for me to fly to Paris and then spend 5 days in my hotel room. He knew all about my divorce, but he said he wanted to try to make things work out with his wife …” She paused here, her friend no doubt saying a few words about the fact he was married. “I know. I know. But I like him. It’s hard. Anyway, he said what he needed to say, and we both cried. Then, we just took off all our clothes and lay there naked for the rest of the night…”
(By this point, our jaws had dropped. The woman across the aisle from us silently laughed. “Does this really happen?” my sister asked her. She shook her head, and I noticed she had her cell phone up – possibly recording every word of the show?)
“I was married for 12 years and I know I liked playing the field … Now, I have more access to —-” (I won’t say the word. She essentially reduced men to one body part.) “… I bought a bag of condoms, but I forget them. I’ll have to buy Canadian condoms. They’re probably bigger – with maple-syrup flavored lube…”
(My sister was madly typing into her phone, trying to capture the one side of this unbelievable conversation that we – and I’m guessing at least half the passengers on that small prop plane – were hearing.)
Margaret Atwood on society’s cycle of addictions
Margaret Atwood, author of Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth suggests that as a society, we go through cycles of addiction.
“‘Debt is the new fat,’ someone said recently. Which led me to reflect that, not so long ago, fat was the new cigarette-smoking, and before that, cigarette-smoking was the new alcohol-drinking, and before that, alcohol-drinking was the new whoremongering. And whoremongering is the new debt; and so we go in circles … I left out hallucinogenic drugs, though they fit in there too.”
As a society, we are currently feeling the often devastating impact of record-breaking levels of consumer debt. The negative impacts of the recent obesity epidemic, that started with children born in the 1970s, are still prevalent. Post WWII, “everyone” smoked – and death by lung cancer later skyrocketed. Prohibition was widely established during the 1920s and 30s to stem the tide of alcoholism. Atwood uses the old-fashioned (and sexist) word “whoremongering” as a nod to the century that has passed since an outbreak of gonorrhea and other STDs in the early 1900s brought its devastation – the result of widespread unprotected sex.
If, as she says, “whoremongering is the new debt,” guess what is up next as a devastating force for us as a society?
Sex addiction on the horizon?
I’ve heard my share of “girl talk” from outspoken women – sometimes with a drink in their hands – but I have never heard anything like the talk coming out of the woman who sat behind me in that plane. And although she was extreme, I do believe that whole scenario was symptomatic of a shift – and not a good one.
- She was speaking loudly, in complete sobriety, seeming to think it wasn’t necessary to have consideration for the people (including children) who couldn’t help but hear.
- She said she was making the trip for sex.
- She was comfortable having had an affair with a married man and having “played the field” through her own marriage.
- She spoke of men as sex objects.
- No airline staff asked her to be quiet.
This does not indicate a move of “progress” towards “freedom” – it indicates selfishness, deceit, dehumanizing, and bondage (best word – sorry) to an addiction. By the time our current consumer debt fiasco is on the mend, will sex addiction take its place? There are signs of trouble ahead. Internet porn addiction is rampant. And gonorrhea is back – a new form of it – not yet treatable.
Side-stepping societal addictions
OK, weigh in here. Do you agree with Atwood’s “cycle of addictions” theory? Do you see evidence of sex addiction on the horizon? What negative impacts does it have? How can people side-step it? Your comments are welcome.
Image courtesy of Pexels.