Who would have thought that it would take a hopelessly inebriated Ghanaian beauty at 33,000 ft. above sea level to unravel the morbid pleasures of economy class? Indeed, apart from last week’s flight from Addis to Accra, I can recall only one other flight in which I have been confronted with the spectacle of a fully stoned and physiologically compromised fellow traveler. And yet, this was by far more spectacular and certainly more embarrassing.
Let’s call the Ghanaian beauty Miss Ghana, shall we?
Visualize a row of six seats with Miss Ghana and yours truly immediately straddling an aisle. Separated by an empty seat to my extreme left was a Nigerian in his early fifties. Also separated by an empty seat to Miss Ghana’s extreme right was my colleague Abotiba. Not too long after take-off, I was deeply engrossed in some reading material when I felt the eyes of someone bearing into my back. I turned to find Miss Ghana staring. Our eyes locked briefly and I returned to my book without a word. Possibly finding me a tad too boring, she shifted her not so insignificant attentions to the Liberian gentleman seated directly behind me and across the aisle from her.
By this time, she had downed her first bottle of wine, her tongue responding with alacrity. Leaning across, she held on lovingly to Mr. Liberian’s hands and gazed lovingly at him. And then the speechmaking started.
“I never sit in the tail of the plane. I always sit upfront,”leaving it patently unclear whether sitting upfront was synonymous with business class, where if wishes were horses, the son of man would ride perpetually. Alas! As fate would have it, the zongo portions of the aircraft have become my hunting grounds which in my less sober moments, I refer to as “business economy.” Mr. Liberian was already cozying up to Miss Ghana, as he responded in a romantic soft monotone, leaning right across. By this time, Ms. Ghana was deep into her second bottle of wine.
“My sole purpose in life is to make other people happy. To be able to do this however, you need a heart that is pure and true. And then you can do what God wants you to do.” That was Miss Ghana. “Are you a Christian?” asked Mr. Liberian. “O yes, I am a Christian and my father is a pastor. By this time, she was deep into what I thought was her third bottle of wine by which time both voices had matured into an intense soft mellow.
“I love the way you talk” offered Mr. Liberian, in apparent reference to her dubious locally acquired foreign accent.
“O thank you. Where do you come from?”
“O Liberia. Such a beautiful place, except for the war which almost destroyed it.”
“Well, all that is behind us now. Have you been there before?” replied Mr. Liberian
“No, but I have friends who have been there before”
“But you know something? I will never forget you. I will never forget this day” which was Mr. Liberia, waxing eloquent and manifestly lyrical. Miss Ghana smiled generously as she asked for pineapple juice and then orange juice and then apple juice.
Shortly thereafter, lunch was served. And then hell broke loose. Sensing a flurry of activity behind me, I turned to see three flight attendants swarming around Miss Ghana. Dazed, her head twisted awkwardly to one side, slouched in her seat with legs apart in an unladylike pose, she was painted in her own copious vomitus which the attendants wiped diligently. The seat and floor in front of her were both in worse shape. The more the flight attendants cleaned her up, the more she threw up semi solid food remnants, leaving the immediate area around her in an unsightly sorry mess for the two and half hours left of the journey.
I turned to look at Mr. Nigeria and against our better judgment, we both burst into spontaneous laughter, little knowing that more laughter was in the offing as Mr. Nigeria placed the afore mentioned matters into perspective.
“Wine and beer … bad chemistry!” thereby sparking another bout of laughter.
“O but, my brother, the attendants have really tried for her o. She is on cloud nine now. You know, as for beer and wine, if you take it in such large quantities, anything that comes on top will come out. It needs to sit on a substrate. The substrate must be the foundation because anything on top will come out.”
Cloud nine as you know, is Ethiopian’s business class and as the inflight magazine counsels, “all passengers should drink in moderation. Avoid heavy meals and drink during the flight.” In the final analysis, I couldn’t resist the temptation of assessing Mr. Liberian’s reaction. O my God, the sheer look of disgust on his face on turning to look at him could have killed anyone. He never spoke to Miss Ghana again for the rest of the journey. Not that there was much of her left anyway.
Speaking to Abotiba later, it emerged that earlier on in the journey, Miss Ghana had stoutly declared that she “had paid for the ticket and thus had to enjoy her money’s worth” leading to her quaffing a total of six bottles—three wine and three canned Heinekens. This was quite separate from the multiple fruit juices etc. As for Abotiba, trapped by unsightly vomitus, he could barely move to as it were “wee wee.”Instead, anytime Miss Ghana felt in dire need of tissue, she would indicate with the swing of the hand and Abotiba will call for attention in solemn compliance.
Given his horrid experience, I doubt Abotiba would ever forget not to combine beer and wine, potentially on an empty stomach when flying next time. For it is …you guessed right, bad chemistry!