Sunday, 21 May 2017

Mistakes on a Plane

Lufthansa and Air Canada's vegan options are...somewhat limited.  Life is absurd.

10,972 meters above Newcastle-upon-Tyne, shovelling pasta into my mouth with a plastic fork while watching a film about a man with 23 personalities who abducts three teenage girls for no psychological plausible reason except to satisfy the cinematic trope of the sexually frustrated, sociopathic male loner who deep down just wants to be loved and be loved and whatever, it occurs to me that life is absurd.  This is obviously not an original idea.  Democritos, the ancient Greek sage, "used to laugh at everything, because he regarded all human affairs as ridiculous", or so reported Hippolytus of Rome, two millennia ago, or so.  Diogenes the Cynic lived in a barrel.  He did this on purpose.  When the king approached him in the street and asked Diogenes if there was anything he could do to help him, he replied, "please stand out of my way, you're blocking the sun".  Diogenes was hilarious.  The absurdity of life has been common knowledge for ages, although it's probably best not to think about it.  

The simple life

Neither Diogenes nor Democritos ever shoved pasta down their gob 10,972 meters above the earth, encased in metal and hurtling over the ocean, comfortable and entertained.

The pasta in my gob is not vegan.  It is smothered in cheese and tastes of mediocrity and dread.  The other option was "cajun style" chicken, which isn't vegan either.  Chicken is called "chicken" because that's actually what it is: the flesh of a dead chicken.  That's not a coincidence: "fish" is fish, "turkey" is turkey and "lamb" really is lamb.

The other option was hunger.  I have been awake for more hours than I know what to do with, having changed flights in Frankfurt, from Manchester, en route to Toronto, which makes no sense at all (see above).  Down below on the earth, a cow who is now almost certainly dead and if not, lives a life of agony before being eventually hammered over the head and having her throat slit years before she would otherwise die, and years after her children were taken from her by force so that the cycle of misery and convenience could begin again, was artificially inseminated by machine or human hand, so that she would produce the milk that would make the cheese that makes the pasta I am eating taste slightly less like nothing in particular.  This, too, is absurd.

Lufthansa's vegan menu.

My meal is served in a plastic tray with a tinfoil lid, accompanied by a tiny bread roll, a miniscule serving of coleslaw (also not vegan) and currant and dark chocolate cookie (nope), each in its own plastic receptacle.  The plastic fork moving rhythmically in and out of my facehole as I gawp at the screen, comes hygienically sealed, accompanied by a plastic knife and a plastic spoon (likewise) a 250ml bottle of "water", two paper napkins and one individual serving of salt, another of pepper (likewise, likewise, likewise and likewise).  I chose red wine to drink, which I drink from a plastic glass.  The red wine comes in a plastic bottle.  It tastes like red wine.  Absurd red wine.

As nature intended.

Other in-flight entertainment includes a film where Vin Diesel machineguns a marketplace of terrorists (or people that look like terrorists, which is probably the same thing) to death in slow motion - impressing the pants, quite literally, off an implausible number of implausibly beautiful women - a cartoon about a koala named Buster who decides to host a signing competition to attract more customers to his theatre business, and a game called "Robot Factory" in which Juan the chameleon (who runs said factory) advises you in how to build "machine robots or experiment with your own designs using the provided robot parts".  It's all so terribly strange.  300 passengers, eating pieces of animals taken apart for our pleasure, playing games in which we take artificial animals and put them together in a variety of colourful and entertaining ways.  At 10,972 meters above the ground, encased in metal and plastic, you wonder if we're being taken apart and put back together ourselves.  But we aren't of course.  We are intact.  Also comfortable.  Those who understood this, and those who made it possible, mostly, are not.  The game instructs you to "let your imagination run wild!"  I turn off my personal touchscreen and do exactly that: although not until I have played a few hundred hands of blackjack, winning myself 226 points.  These points are not redeemable for anything real down on earth and as soon as I exit the game, the points disappear, and I remain the same.

It is not necessary to comment any further on these things; only to point out that they all exist.


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