That trip to Mexico I keep meaning to tell you about, which almost didn’t happen because of my unrivaled ability to be a complete and utter moron

About two hours into our flight from Philadelphia to Cancun, I discovered that I had committed The Biggest Fuck-Up of All Time … like, to the extent that I knew it would be best for my marriage if I just went ahead and threw myself out of the aircraft. Which was a shame, really … because everything had been going so well.

The kids were sound asleep at my in-laws’ house when my wife and I slipped out into the chilly, predawn darkness and drove to the airport. Once there, we breezed through check-in and cruised through security without being so much as groped inappropriately by TSA.

A short while later, when the flight attendant snootily announced that she and her entire airline would like to welcome aboard their snooty First Class passengers — an announcement that normally means my wife and I will now watch the Haves parade past us Have Nots — we gleefully marched through the gate thanks to the boatload of frequent-flyer miles we’d cashed in for the much-coveted First Class upgrade.

As evidence of how infrequently I travel First Class, I was caught completely off guard by the fact that First-Class seats no longer are simply extra-wide versions of coach seats. Turns out they now are magical space contraptions imported from the future:

Mexico, April 2011

Yes, I took a picture of the seats in First Class … and as I was snapping it, I said in a loud voice, “Well, taaaaarrrrnation! Honey, get a load o’ these here new-fangled sittin’ thingies!” It was tough to understand what I was saying, though, because I was clenching a long stalk of wheat between my teeth, and the pot-bellied pig I was hiding in my overalls was making a lot of noise.

Actually, taking a picture of the First Class seats wasn’t the thing that most clearly demonstrated what an uncultured rube I am. That honor went to the tears of laughter streaming down my face as I discovered that my seat not only reclined, but actually turned into a bed — a discovery that prompted me to repeatedly raise and lower myself from upright to prone and back again during the entire boarding process in a remarkably passive-aggressive display designed to taunt the coach-cabin passengers who were skulking past us on their way to plebeville.

“You’re going to get us kicked out of First Class!” my wife said in a tone she’d perfected over roughly seven years of motherhood. She had a point. I stopped.

Not long after I ceased my childish antics, it was time to take off, and because I am unable to let myself fully believe that the good thing I’ve planned is going to come to fruition until that good thing actually is happening, it wasn’t until the plane left the ground that I was able to begin shifting into that blissfully unstressed state known as “vacation mode.” We’d made it. Nothing more to worry about. Or so I thought.

After we’d spent a couple of hours relaxing and fantasizing about the several days we’d be enjoying in paradise, my wife decided to fill out the customs forms that the flight attendant had given us shortly after takeoff.

“I need your passport,” she said.

It was during my third fruitless search through my pockets and backpack that I began to worry.

“Um… I can’t find my passport,” I said in a way that suggested I was genuinely concerned, but not yet panicking. Surely, it was here somewhere. I knew I’d had it with me; I had even tweeted a picture of it while seated in the gate area prior to boarding the flight. See?

Mexico, April 2011

My wife searched through her belongings. I searched through mine. And then we searched through them again. And then again.

And then I officially began to panic. Like, full-on, no-holds-barred, the-sky-is-falling panic.

“This isn’t happening,” I said in disbelief. “There’s no way this is happening.”

We summoned the flight attendant.

“I can’t find my passport,” I said as I collapsed into her arms, sobbing hysterically and calling her “mommy.”

“What happens when we get there if we can’t find it?” my wife asked.

“Well, I’ve seen this happen before, and, unfortunately, I can tell you that they won’t let you into the country without a passport,” she said. And then I died.

“But I’m sure it’s here somewhere,” she added reassuringly, “so take a deep breath and go through your things one more time. I’m sure you’ll find it. I mean, seriously: There’s simply no way that you’d actually lose your passport seconds before boarding this flight, thereby allowing your unfathomable incompetence to destroy your dream vacation.” She didn’t say that last part out loud, but I still heard it.

And I appreciated her reassurance … but I was 100% positive that I did not have my passport. Not 99.99% sure; 100% sure. I was utterly devoid of hope.

Tears of disappointment — and, I’m sure, frustration, resentment and anger — began welling up in my wife’s eyes. For almost 17 years, she’d been putting up with me repeatedly misplacing my wallet and/or keys and/or camera and/or iPod and/or whatever other item whose whereabouts a person not afflicted with pervasive A.D.D. would have been able to keep track of … but all of those incidents paled in comparison to this unprecedented and monumental fuck up. I had actually ruined our vacation.

And so, resigned to the fact that I would now have to jump out of the aircraft in order to save face, I made one last desperate attempt to locate my passport before plunging to my death.

After extending my First Class seat into its fully-reclined position, I crawled underneath the footrest and, using the mini-flashlight I keep with me when flying (because one of these times I’ll need it to help guide all of the passengers to safety when we crash and I’m forced to save everyone … duh) I searched the underside of the futuristic device more thoroughly than I’d already done during several previous searches … and this time, to my complete astonishment, I found lodged in the seat’s mechanical innards my passport, which had fallen there after slipping out of my pocket while I was acting like an asshole and using my seat as a carnival ride.

“OHMYGODIFOUNDIT!” I said as I burst out from under the seat clutching it in my hand and flung myself onto my wife, knocking my glass of orange juice all over my shorts in the process … a development that didn’t bother me in the least, so overwhelming was my relief upon realizing that our vacation was still intact and I didn’t have to die just yet.

The flight attendant smiled in a friendly “I told you so” way as she handed me some napkins with which to dry myself, and her expression felt completely foreign to me, because I am never wrong.

“OK, now you two relax while I go get you both a drink,” she said as she became My Most Favorite Flight Attendant Ever. A few moments later, she placed in front of us two cups of ice and assorted fruit juices, as well as four little airline bottles of Smirnoff vodka, which we emptied with tremendous haste.

Ironically, the near loss of our vacation — which, to me, had seemed a complete certainty only a few minutes earlier — ended up multiplying exponentially the degree to which I was now excited about our Mexican getaway. I had gone from Dead Man Walking to Dude On Vacation in a matter of seconds. I’m assuming this is what Jesus felt like on that third day, only better.

To be continued…

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  1. Posted February 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Jebus Effing Christ I would have strangled you. Just for the heart attack part of that. I mean, I WAS STRESSED OUT READING THIS.
    The Domestic Goddess´s most recent blog post: Someday I’ll Learn to Keep My Piehole ShutMy Profile

  2. JB
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    I was also stressed out reading this!! OMG.

  3. Amy K.
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Holy crap, you crack me up!!! I would not have been able to laugh quite as hard, though, if this post had not been preceded by random stunning vacation photos that assured me you HAD ACTUALLY GONE ON VACATION.

  4. Posted February 7, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    You got my blood pressure up just reading this. That is too funny…

  5. Posted February 8, 2011 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    The Spouse had, for a while anyhow, a remarkable ability to loose tiny, but very important pieces of paper. Like the bus ticket the Chinese need to see to let you ON and OFF the bus (why they need it to let you OFF, is beyond me, since they saw it to let you ON).

    He redeemed himself for all of this when he somehow managed to save a set of ferry boarding passes that proved to the Argentine authorities who were in the midst of trying to prove we had illegally adopted our actual daughter, that we had only gone to Uruguay for a weekend. I don’t remember why we needed to prove that now, but at the time it was really important. And he had them.

  6. Posted February 8, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    ZOMG Reading this stressed me out, too, just like the other commenters. Only because I can COMPLETELY identify with you. I’ll pack EVERYTHING under the sun me and my partner could possibly need, but lose something important like the KEYS.

    Hurry and post some more calming pics of the beach. I need to calm back down, and there’s no super awesomest flight attendant here.
    Kernut the Blond´s most recent blog post: Relationship Rules- I’m The Special Needs Person In A RelationshipMy Profile

  7. Posted February 8, 2011 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    This cracks me up so much!! I can’t imagine how bad you felt, yet it is hilarious how you describe it all!

  8. Posted February 8, 2011 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Wonder Woman must have nerves of steel because I would have surely killed you before you got around to finding the passport!
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: If you think this title is boring just wait until you see the postMy Profile

  9. SCW
    Posted February 8, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I 2nd that comment of posting the great, calming pictures of Mexico soon, because we have no great flight attendant or fruity drinks here to help us breath again after that.. I only have my coffee and that really didn’t do the trick after I held my breath the entire time I read.. past “I need your passport” …..Sigh…

  10. Posted February 8, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Oh my GOD. This post has inspired me to never travel without strapping my passport to my chest with several rolls of duck tape.
    Nicki´s most recent blog post: In Which Nicki Reveals a Little Too Much About Her Childhood Unicorn FantasiesMy Profile

  11. Posted February 8, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    It’s clear that Mommy Scratches has nerves of steel!

  12. Wonder Woman
    Posted February 8, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Just to be clear, I had NO intention of missing Mexico. It would have been very sad to see DS head back, but that blue ocean, infinity pool and pina coladas were going to be mine regardless!

  13. Posted February 8, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Ok, so those months of teaser photographs had a purpose. You assured us you aren’t a moron and you had your passport somewhere. Though I wish your wife would have been able to see into the future. She deserved the heads-up that it would turn out ok.

  14. Posted February 8, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I was picturing a whole escape at the Airport, hiding in the Mexican Beaches, snuffing the drug mules to get food ending to this story.
    But your ending was good too.

    On a serious note, I would totally lose my passport on the way to the gate. I’ve lost my movie ticket between buying and giving to the ticket ripper person on MULTIPLE occasions. That’s 30 seconds to lose the stub. Multiple times have I done it.
    Sara J Davis´s most recent blog post: My dog is deaf and blind…My Profile

  15. heidig
    Posted February 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    This sounded eerily like something my ex-husband would have done which is exactly why is he my “ex”. Wonder Woman deserves a medal. And you write wonderful stories.

  16. Posted February 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I, too, wold have continued on without the huisband unit but not until emotionally castrating him beyond all hope of redemption.

    I am, however, overjoyed that you found it and had a feeling ti had been sucked by the new-fangled seat of the future based on experience of my own. Despite my suspicions, this poat was very stressful.

    I can’t wait to hear more….
    Susan´s most recent blog post: Buzzys Bad WeekendMy Profile

  17. Posted February 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    While I felt bad for your misfortune, I felt certain your wife would just go on vacation without you. Because that’s what I would do to my husband who misplaces everything and can’t keep his head on straight. Wave him ‘goodbye’ as he got on a new plane home and I slipped into my sandals and headed off in search of the beach.
    Seriously, though, I’m so glad this had a happy ending for both of you!
    Dana´s most recent blog post: How do you eat an OreoMy Profile

  18. Posted February 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Totally something I would do. Right now I’m wondering where the hell my wallet and all that money ($6) is.
    Jenna´s most recent blog post: Baby its cold outside!My Profile

    • Jenna
      Posted February 10, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      And would you know I found my wallet the very afternoon I wrote this… a week and a half after I lost it. It was under my truck seat the whole time. No bullshit. Thanks for the juju or whatever happened here! 🙂

  19. Posted February 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Bwahahaaahahahaaa!! Awesome. Had I been WW, I would have been calmly sitting there saying, “How sad for you.” hahahahaa.
    watercolor´s most recent blog post: Listing to the left and Bouncing off the wallsMy Profile

  20. Posted February 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Good night! Do I know that feeling of panic. I turn into a raving lunatic – no literally – a raving nut case. I will rip things apart. I hate losing stuff. But then comes the relief when i do find it, and along with it, the realization that I’ve just made a fool outta myself.

    Is it just me that wants to “accidentally” hawk a loogie while walking through first-class? My rendition of “Bio-Class Warfare.”
    Clark Kent’s Lunchbox´s most recent blog post: Angels and Demons- Part 1 SparkyMy Profile

  21. Posted February 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh my good gracious gravy man! Never mind the passport!!! I’m dying to know about the vacation! It’s completely evil of you to tease like this and post about it in installments.

    I sent a link to the place to my DH with instructions to take me there asap. He has not replied. I know he wants a carbon fibre bike instead.
    Madiantin´s most recent blog post: Oh my gosh!My Profile

  22. Posted February 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Love it – can’t wait for the rest. You write like PW does…suspense! And humor.

  23. Theresa in Alberta
    Posted February 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    I think I will just stay at home thankyou,,,i cannot handle the stress!!! Please post pictures of the beach with some serving refreshing “beverages” to your lounge chair eh! 😉

  24. Posted February 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    All I could think as I read this was: “he seemed smarter than that when I met him a few months ago. What a fucking dumbass!” as I pictured myself wearing the yellow silk sportcoat I always wear when I fly and thought about the interior breast pocket in which I always keep my tickets and (if needed) passport.

    I’m glad this ended well. But I think the blog post would’ve been better if it concluded with “How I Entertained Myself at the Cancun Airport for a Week.”
    Muskrat´s most recent blog post: lawsuits- nothing to LOL aboutMy Profile

  25. Posted February 9, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    ZOMGeezers! I probably would of killed you…to death! as my fiancee so lovingly points out lol love the writing style and I’ll definitely be following you 😛
    Sephani Paige´s most recent blog post: FlooredMy Profile

  26. Posted February 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Whew! I’m so glad you found it and didn’t have to jump off the plane. Also thanks for reminding me – I’m going to Cabo next week!

  27. Posted February 9, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Not only was I stressed reading this, I had to hold back screaming HOW THE HELL DID YOU LOSE YOUR PASSPORT?! at the computer. I would have killed you.
    Phoenix Rising´s most recent blog post: How Stebnitz Builders Saved My Relationship- Bearfoot!My Profile

  28. Paulette M Clark
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I know about this sort of thing. I’ve been married to a forgetful one for 40 years. It get worse. Last summer he lost the car key between the time he used it to open the trunk and when he sat in the drivers seat to drive me to the airport. We were late already and he looked everywhere. Finally had to go back in the house and get my car key. It was under the car. Laying in the driveway when he got home. And lets not talk about glasses, wallets, bills, etc.

  29. Carolyn
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    I love it! I am not alone in the world of dizz-brains! This brings back some rather terrifying moments between El Salvador and Costa Rica where I suddenly found myself stranded not remembering the name or phone number of my destination (left the paper with that trivia on a counter in San Salvador) and arriving hours late (thanks, TACA!) so no one was there to meet me. Oh, and my empty wallet and lack of Spanish at that time….the thing nightmares are made of! Or maybe the time I met with the government official in his car in a parking lot in Tegucigalpa to renew my visa…We usually did this in his office in Ceiba but he was in Tegus to see his daughter and I had gone there for the dentist, so we agreed to meet up like that. I felt like I was making an illicit drug deal and tried not to panic as the bank guard holding a very large rifle watched us make the transaction of signed papers for cash. I am the poster child of this behavior!

  30. Posted February 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Holy crap. I got so stressed out reading this….I would do this. Except I would probably manage to destroy my passport in the gears of the chair or something. Congratulations on finding your passport and leaving the country!

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