Scene: Yesterday at the Las Vegas airport, just after 9am PT.
I am scheduled to rehearse with Arcati Crisis in approximately six hours. E and I have just been deplaned. I texted Gina an update on my flight.
This is our actual text message conversation, unabridged.
Peter: Our plane is delayed due to a bad smell. Will text you upon arrival. I still might be home in time.
Gina: Bad smell like a rotting carcass, or like an “OMG PLANE CRASH” kind of bad smell?
G: I don’t know what the latter would smell like. Fuel?
P: I suspect a dirty sock has been sucked into the air circulation system. We have been grounded due to a dirty sock.
G: Probably placed there by an angry flight attendant.
P: They keep beckoning the attendants back into the plane for a “sniff test.” I do not think “sniff” is a technical acronym. I believe they are actually testing our safety with their finely trained noses.
G: That’s amazing. “Flight attendants: it is time for you to sniff once again. This is what we’ve been training for all of our lives.”
G: If there was a chemist there, they’d make sure people were wafting.
P: Do you think I should go over and explain wafting to them? They seem very pleasant. Maybe they are lifelong learners who would appreciate the knowledge.
G: Well, I suppose wafting would only be useful if they are looking to stick their noses into bottles or cans of questionable materials. If there is an exhaust pipe somewhere with a dirty sock in it, I guess that counts.
G: It is my opinion that they should have hired people who walk around in lab coats with the airline emblem on them to do the sniffing … to add legitimacy to the whole thing. Nothing says “legitimate” like a lab coat.
P: Maybe they have the lab coats in the overhead bin with the sample oxygen mask. Maybe SNIF stands for “sensing nefarious intrusive fragrances.” They serve many roles, flight attendants.
G: It’s true. Perhaps they just ran out of miniature liquor bottles and they’re trying to come up with how to handle the passengers without them.
An hour passes.
P: Now we cannot reenter the plane to retrieve our luggage. I will be secretly thrilled if the bad smell is actually toxic.
G: Wow, you still haven’t taken off yet? Are they going to put you on another plane?
P: No. We are relocating Arcati Crisis to Las Vegas. We will be staying in the executive suit of The Flamingo. We will be alternates for Donnie & Marie.
G: This all sounds completely reasonable and appropriate.
G: Of course we would be staying at The Flamingo. This would only be more sensical if we were staying in a suite next to a penthouse filled with Elvises.
G: Elvi? I don’t know.
P: Oh, it gets better.
P: There are paramedics with a stretcher waiting in the jetway. Except, everyone from the flight is seated out here at the gate.
G: I am guessing they found an alien life form in there. You might actually be living out Terror at 30,000 Feet … but … at sea level and not trapped in a plane … and without William Shatner. So, not nearly as dynamic or exciting.
G: It occurs to me that the presence of William Shatner in any form at this point would improve your situation.
Several minutes later…
P: They just took a single large bag out of the plane on the stretcher.
G: Oh my god. There is a human head in it, isn’t there?!?
P: Or a small E.B.E.
[That’s Extraterrestrial Biological Entity, for those of you who did not watch The X-Files.]
G: I think this entire conversation will be making it’s way onto my blog.
P: Yes, mine too. Clearly.
G: So, rehearsal’s off, then?
Epilogue, three hours later … around when rehearsal was set to begin.
G: Have you made your way onto a plane yet.
G: Oy. Did you find out any fabulous details about the Mysterious Odor?
P: No further information. I was told by an airline rep that I was “very nice,” so clearly they are trying to cover something up.
P: This is an actual message I just heard on the overhead: “We want to let you know this flight does not have running water, which means you will not have coffee service, or be able to flush the toilets.”
P: Then, after a brief pause: “We jut want to clarify – you will be able to use the toilets, but will be unable to flush them or wash your hands.”
G: Wow… just wow. Purell for all!
E and I touched down in Philly just after 10pm. Our plane smelled lovely and did have running water.