I was coming off a week filming in New Mexico at Los Alamos, seeing super cool stuff that, if I tell you about, they might kill me. Ok, we actually just got to see the sister to the laser on the Mars Rover and hang out with scientists. We also learned how to turn an old projection tv into a solar powered death ray. I was in nerd heaven.
So it turns out New Mexico, which if you watched Breaking Bad you know already, has a bit of a methamphetamine problem. This became painfully evident when I was trying to fly home.
I was standing in line to check our gear at Abuquerque’s airport with the rest of the crew when I noticed a young woman acting weird in front of us. I watched her for a minute and recognized that she was what medical professionals call, “wired to the gills.” She was with an older man that I thought must be her father, and he was handling all the grown-up aspects of getting checked in while she danced nervously in place.
I elbowed my camera guy.
“Check out the tweaker,” I whispered.
“You think so?” He replied.
“Absolutely,” I said.
“Maybe,” He said with a bit of doubt in his voice.
After clearing security, I cracked a joke on Facebook about her and how I hoped she wasn’t on my flight.
The Karma gods decided I shouldn’t make fun of strangers. I walked down the aisle, glancing at my ticket, and low and behold who is my seat buddy? Tweaky McTweakerson! I did a desperate scan for salvation but…full plane. The older guy who’d been her handler was nowhere to be seen. Smart man.
Tweaky was bouncing in place like a six year old who’d binged on a family sized bag of Skittles. She was also singing to herself. I gave her the courtesy hello and folded myself into the tiny seat next to her. My camera guy walked past me and shot me his best “you’re screwed,” smirk.
The plane began to taxi and then took off. I put on my big headphones, in the universal gesture of leave me alone, please. Two minutes into the flight, while we are still rapidly gaining altitude she starts tapping me on the shoulder. I look at her and she gives me a wide eyed can I get out look.
I stand up and let her out, earning the wrath of a flight attendant yelling about the seat belt light. I know you’re not supposed to get up now, but I’m not getting between crazy and the bathroom. The woman grabs the grocery sack that is her luggage and trots off to the lavatory. I don’t know what she has in the bag but it sounds like a garbage truck crashing into a garage sale.
She’s back a few minutes later with even more nervous energy and climbs into her seat next to me. Now she’s bouncing and singing and doing this weird hand jive thing. The radio station in her head is apparently set on scan, as she switches up songs every seven beats. I’m doing my level best to ignore her, playing a video game on my laptop and silently cursing the karma gods, but it’s impossible not to glance over just to make sure she hasn’t picked up a knitting needle to stab me with or something. Also, she’s shaking the whole right side of the plane with her endless, frenetic movements.
Then it happens. I glance over once again to confirm she’s still unarmed and immediately drop my eyes to my laptop. My brain needs a second to process it. “Was that a boob I just saw?” My male radar is pinging. I glance again, just to be sure. Yep. This was not a nip-slip, nor mere side-boob, this was a full boob.
It was like she was breastfeeding an invisible baby. All her dancing and hand jiving had caused one of the girls to come free from the weird loose hippy shirt she was wearing. She also seemed to have no idea this had happened, as she was making no effort to coral the wayward boob.
“She’ll notice any second,” I thought to myself, “just keep your eyes on the video game.” I looked around the cabin, but no one else was aware of the stray boob running amok. I decided the safest tactic was pretending that I, too, had no idea and played more solitaire. A full two minutes went by and I checked back. Yep, still a free show in seat 18D.
Now I had waited too long for it not to be even weirder if I said something. There were two things possibly going on. One, she was so high she had no idea her boob was out, or two, she was so crazy that she had it out for me to notice as a conversation starter. I wanted no part of either of those situations. I’ve since consulted with several reliable and sober (at the time) women who have all told me that they would notice pretty quickly if their entire boob was exposed in public. I also asked one drunk woman, as a control.
I saw that the drink cart was coming which was great on two fronts. The first being, hey, it’s a cart full of drinks! More importantly, the flight attendant would have to notice and, I assume, women have some secret gesture to subtly warn each other of massive wardrobe malfunction. Like how a thoughtful guy friend will loudly yell “hey Bob, whatcha doing? Trolling?” when your fly is open.
Thankfully, Tweaky finally realized she was on a plane with the delicate public and stopped feeding the invisible baby. The drink cart arrived and I ordered a double gin and tonic. Tweaky just kept dancing, then she asked for the rest of my can of tonic water and drank it like she had escaped from the Sahara. Even though it was empty she tried to drink from it several more times until I hit the call button for the flight attendant and ordered her another water on me. Her boobs stayed contained.
When we finally landed all I could think of was how happy I was to get clear of crazy lady without further shenanigans. She tapped me on the shoulder again.
“Where do I get my stuff?” She asked. Her pupils were like pin holes.
“Ummm, baggage claim?” I said. “Just follow the signs.”
She stared at me, clearly struggling with this concept. Oh shit, I thought, is she so fucked up she can’t read, or is she legitimately illiterate?
“Look for a picture of a suitcase,” I said.
She nodded. A lot. Then, “can you take me there?” she pleaded.
“Yeeeeah….sure, just follow me.” I prayed that the next question wouldn’t be, “can you give me a ride?” or, “can I stay with you just today?” Lost junkies are the worst kind of Cling-On.
Thankfully, right as we stepped off the plane she was intercepted by someone who could only be her mother, and another guy who looked like a rehab facility representative. I wished them luck, silently, and got the hell out of there.
Then I texted everyone I knew. Because Karma may be a good teacher, but I’m a slow learner. Our mom’s response was “well maybe she was French.”