The Great Cross Country Caper, Day 1: Out of ATL

We’re waiting for our flight—I have surprised my lovely first wife with an upgrade to first class, so there’s that to be excited about.

We ate at trendy little place on E Concourse called One Flew South. Nice food, and I got a cocktail called Rise of the Phoenix: mezcal, yellow chartreuse, lime, strawberry, and black pepper scattered across the top. Wonderful musty flavor with the layers of fruit, nothing overpowering, and the scent of the fresh cracked pepper added another assault on the nose with each sip.

I neglected to take a photo, but I’m still developing my workflow here.

The flight is already late on its ETD. We’ll be pulling into San Francisco closer to midnight than previously thought. That is of course 3:00 in the morning our time. There will be some adjustment.

By the way, there are some in our party who are worried that by blogging about our Great Cross Country Caper, I am revealing our absence from home to the scores of my readers who monitor my blog in order to rob me. To those people, I say NUH-UH: we have a hireling living in our home while we are away YES WE DO TOO SO DON’T EVEN TRY IT I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING.

They have started loudspeaking at us about boarding. I would promise to blog more as we fly, but what on earth would I be blogging about? I have a window seat, but it has been pointed out to me that it’s going to be night-time. We’ll see.

Here we go.

LATER:  It is 9:00, CDT, and some thoughts have occurred to me.

First of all, we are not seated in first class.  We are in business class.

There’s a distinction, I’m sure, but I am not far up enough the food chain to know it already, and I doubt it would be worth my while to research the difference.  I thought first class was extinct, but somewhere up here in the stratosphere it must still exist.

I thought maybe they had killed it off because of the associations with this old Southern Airlines ad:

Because no matter what you call it, those seats up front are better than those behind us.  We have wider seats, more legroom, free beverages, not to mention the dancing girls and lobster.  (There is no lobster.)

I am tempted to go full-bore Marxist here and say that of course first class morphed into business class:  they are still our lords and masters, are they not?  I feel like an interloper, although I daresay I am as well-educated and/or employed as most of my fellow overlords up here.

On the one hand, it’s a comfort to know that I’m seated in business class with my free gin and tonics simply because when I went to choose our seats last night, these were available and I felt comfortable (economically speaking) to splurge on the upgrade.  (Full disclosure: the upgrades cost almost as much as the flight itself—deep discounts on the flight.)

On the other hand, that’s what it all boils down to: the ability to pay.  Those who have the cash (or in my case, the credit limit)  can move up to the Empyrean of business class.  The rest of you have to suck it.

I think it’s worth pondering, too, that there are only twelve of these seats. Even if everyone on this flight could afford the upgrade, they couldn’t get it.  Selective scarcity.  Perfect Marxist metaphor.

Do not get me wrong: if you’ve got the money, spend it.  There’s no point in being ashamed of having earned it, even if you’re the shameless overpaid CEO of some company that’s giving you an 8-figure income just to go away.  Okay, in that case you should probably be ashamed.  But on the whole, go for it.  Have multiple homes on several coasts; fly to NYC to catch the opening night at the Met; fly business class.

However, it is a sad truth that, as Anouilh put it in Ring Round the Moon, “Money is magic.”  Because I can afford it, I can stretch my legs on this five-hour flight.  I can afford health insurance.  I can afford tickets to the San Francisco Opera.

Here’s another implication of the Marxist metaphor:  recently, we spent a lovely very long weekend in a friend’s second home in Beaufort, SC.  It was a gorgeous home in a very nice neighborhood on a practically private island.  I noticed when we drove out onto the island that the end of the county-maintained road was clearly announced—and that the road immediately improved.

I mused at the time that our friends at FOX News or The National Review  or The Heritage Foundation would lecture us that of course the road was better when it was maintained by the private sector, but the truth was somewhat the inverse: when we don’t pull together as a society, taxing ourselves enough to maintain our infrastructure, then only the wealthy will  have nice roads.

Business class, baby, business class.

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