It was 3am by the clock on my phone as I shifted awkwardly in my seat. Despite taking two sleeping pills and washing them down with a liberal glass of scotch I had as yet been unable to sleep. My husband slept soundly next to me as I became increasingly uncomfortable. The bastard, I breathed quietly to myself. The cramped confines presented by economy air travel were not helping. Neither was the incessant, pungent farting of the gentleman sitting in front of me. Nor the fact that he had his seat as far back as it could go, and his weight coupled with his continual shifting (and farting, grotesque, continual farting!) meant that for the present moment I was trapped in my own personal Apocalypse Now. I looked over again at my peacefully sleeping husband and was consumed with jealousy. I also realised I would have to climb over him to get to the toilets. Ahhhh sweet justice.
Yet that I needed to go to the bathroom now presented its own problems. You see I have a long-standing, totally irrational fear of airplane toilets. This dates back to when I was still a small child. And I blame the television show Get Smart totally and completely. It was watching Maxwell Smart get caught short in an airplane toilet, as the floor dropped out from under him leaving him to cling to a rotating towel that did it. As his feet dangled into the thin air below him, I was freaked out! Ever since watching that show I cannot go to an airplane toilet without freaking out all over again. I know this fear is ridiculous. If the floor dropped away at all I would land in the cargo-hold, atop everyone’s luggage. The only way I could fall into atmospheric space would be for the luggage bay to also open, meaning everyone’s bags would be lost to the winds. It’s not going to happen. I know this. And yet still, to this day, every time I visit the tiny, smelly, disgusting boxroom of an airplane toilet, I am still convinced that there is a small possibility that the floor might disappear and I will be left scrabbling wildly to hang on so I can stay on board. The other thing that worries me is we no longer have rotating towels….