next to two bleached-blond women in their thirties wearing matching 1.5
karat diamond earrings while I ate a pack of miniature Prince biscuits
that I seem to only be able to find at a small snack cart by the United
terminal in Charles de Gaulle airport. The women flip through a People
magazine pointing out whom they know, whom they don’t know, whom they
like and whose date is overweight. I crunch my cookies louder, hoping
to drown out the society accents.
was a stroke of fate when I choked on my second biscuit, causing me to
halt my careless chewing routine–otherwise I never would have heard my
name over the loudspeaker. Could it be? Angels, calling my name from
puffy white clouds in United’s friendly skies. “Madame Guenther, please
approach the podium.” Followed by, “Madame Guenther, we’re upgrading
you to business class.”
shiny silver card came by post. At first I didn’t know what it was. I
mean, I didn‘t even apply, but when I found out that I had been
admitted well, I cried. Tears of joy. Running down my cheek onto the
silver card. Tears for never having to bear the screams of a
two-year-old for 13 hours straight, while trying to uncross my legs
without shattering my kneecap on the tray table. Tears for a better
diet and no more waiting in long lines, hoping they’d call my section
next. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have achieved Premier Status with
United Airlines. Applause, please.
thirteen-hour flight from CDG to SFO was like a mini-vacation. I read a
book and stretched out my legs. Ate smoked salmon and filet mignon with
real silverware (except for the plastic knife, but it was the color
silver) and cloth napkins. Even placemats.
with drinks before dinner. Soufflé and Bailey’s after dinner. And when
I excused myself to wash up in the restroom, I didn’t have to climb
over anyone, I just stood up and walked past the gentlemen in the
business suit seated next to me.
seats in Business Class are electrically powered! I spent a full hour
between movies fiddling with the different buttons–causing the
footrest to move up and down. Once bored with the control panel I
reached into the pouch on the back of the seat in front of me (for
which I had to unbuckle my seat belt just to touch, I had so much leg
room) and took out my goodie bag.
pull the sleep mask over my eyes, forgetting my usual fear in coach,
that the person next to me might cut off my hair or stick things in my
mouth while I‘m asleep. I push the recline button on my chair’s control
panel and fall back peacefully. I’m so grateful for every time I helped
an old woman down the stairs or filled up someone’s expired parking
meter–God, Karma’s fantastic!
think it just might be possible that during my last life I did
something really terrible. It turns out that with Karma, what goes
around comes around, but not until your next life. This means we pay
today, not for what we did yesterday, but for what we did maybe a
hundred years ago. It turns out, Karma has a long memory.
when I fill up those parking meters, I’m not insuring this life, but my
next one. When I was little, whenever I was doing something that I
shouldn’t, like trying to melt the portable phone into its cradle with
a lighter, my mom used to say to me, “Careful, Kirsten! You don’t want
to come back as an ant.” Now I get what she was talking about. Perhaps
this is the reason United refused to upgrade me on my return flight to
Paris. This, Karma.
teased me! They gave me a taste of smoked salmon salad with a real
fork, and now they want me to pay $200 to sit in a seat that was free
last week. According to my travel agent mother, this is an amazing
deal, only offered to premier-status flyers. But $200! That would pay
for the little Marc Jacobs turquoise clutch I was eyeing in Saks. And
beside, I have $128.64 in my Bank of America account.
head hurts just thinking about coach. I tell the short man with the
spiked hair and braces behind the United check-in counter that I’m
pregnant–but he says that I still have to pay $200 for the upgrade.
least I’m sitting in a side row, with only two seats, and I have a
window, so I can lean my head to the side without worrying that I might
fall onto a stranger’s shoulder. This is an advantage to having a
travel agent for a mother, better seats and special meals.
mom didn’t order me a special meal this time, because I truly believed
that I would be bumped up to business class. But, I’ve already decided
that I’m not going to eat on the flight anyway, because I read in
InStyle magazine Laura Linney’s cure for jetlag: eat right before you
get on the plane and then only drink water while in flight. Well, at
least I won’t be tempted by a big juicy steak. God, I’m hungry.
wait until the absolute last second to board the flight–I realize this
goes against the benefits of having premier status, but I keep thinking
the voices from the sky might call my name. They don‘t.
seat is actually pretty good—and Economy Plus does appear to have more
leg room than coach. I take out my book, The Mailroom: The History of
Hollywood From the Bottom Up. I start to doze off…
there! Who is the Crazy Man touching me. Why is he petting my face? The
man with the silver hair in the matching denim coos at me in a thick
Persian accent. Now I’m wide awake.
really hate that this is the first time in my life I’ve been able to
sleep on an airplane (thanks to Laura Linney’s advice) and now Crazy is
petting my face. I whack his hand away.
introduces himself. He wants to know what I do. I’m a writer. He’s a
publisher. Surprise, surprise. I flip through the movies–desperate for
a distraction. Out of the six movies playing on the plane, the best I
can do is Chasing Liberty with Mandy Moore and Paycheck with Ben
Chasing Liberty, Crazy turns to me and removes the earphones on my
head, ” I have these little blue and yellow pills,” why is he using his
hand as a puppet? ” That make women fall in love with me…”
I better keep a close eye on my drink. I would ask to change seats, but
what if they put me back in coach? I could get stuck in the middle of
the middle. I won’t be able to cross my legs, or get up to go to the
movie, Crazy wants to see my hand. I refuse, so he picks up my wrist
and extends my fingers outward. I take my hand away and he grabs for
it. He won‘t stop. He says that he wants to admire my hand. Help!
we arrive at the gate, Crazy wants my phone number. I decline and then
hide in the bathroom for about 20 minutes, hoping that by the time I
get through customs and arrive at baggage claim he’ll be long gone.
been an hour and I’m still at baggage claim. I think that premier
status holders should receive their luggage first. My bags are nowhere
in sight, and I’m one of the only people left waiting. Thankfully,
Crazy has left the building.
My bags. What the he–? My super-cool duffel bag from Thailand is
missing all of its straps. It’s limbless. What did they do to you? It
seems that in an effort to cover up their crime, someone has taken all
four straps and tied them into one long rope. As if I wouldn’t notice.
How am I going to carry my bag from the Air France bus stop to my house?
not, that’s how. I’m going to have to take a taxi. Perfect. There goes
35 euros I don’t have. Plus, I hate taking taxis, because whenever I
give the driver my address he always says, “C’est pas possible.” They
don’t believe that this little boulevard across the street from the
trips up my seven flights of stairs, I am finally home. I unpack right
away and then Windex and vacuum my entire studio. I sit down to check
my email–and then I decide to do some online banking and see if my
deposit has gone through.
I have to call my bank long distance. They’ll route me to someone in
India whom they’re training to speak with a Texas accent to sound more
American, so I can never understand this poor person that Bank of
America or whoever is giving a speech impediment.
grab my purse and take out my wallet, to check for the number on the
back of my ATM card. No ATM card. I pour everything in my purse onto my
bed. No ATM card. (I can’t breath.) And I have no euros because I just
gave them all to the taxi driver. I curse United for torturing my Thai
arrived in Paris from the States, I found my shower filled with
Orangina; and then I received a 300-euro phone bill.
I moved to Paris in September, I got locked out of my studio, was
delivered ten pounds of baby food instead of tuna and cottage cheese,
and developed severe abdominal pains (most likely stress-induced).
this all be linked to Karma? Perhaps I was mean to a French person in
my last life and now Paris is hazing me. But, after all, how bad could
I have been? They didn’t put me in coach– the ultimate punishment.
might have taken my ATM card, my duffel bag, my last 30 euros and
attempted to drug me with little blue and yellow pills, but I still
have my pride. I will not let Paris forget who I am: Premier status
member # 00216 924 3668.
joins Bonjour Paris from Los Angeles, California where she recently
graduated from the University in Southern California with a BFA
in Acting. Last year Last year she co-wrote the book and lyrics to a
new pop musical which expects to open in Los Angeles next spring. Two
years ago, while studying at a conservatory in London, Kirsten fell in
love with Paris and decided that she was destined to return for some
time. She’s thrilled to experience this dream come true.