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Monday, June 9, 2008

Final-Final

Unlike Cicero, who still must toil for his bread, Livia spends relatively little time on airplanes. Thus, when forced to endure air travel, she is hypersensitive to sources of potential irritation. Who would have imagined that the pilot's announcement of the torment's imminent end should prove to be such?

"We are beginning our final descent into [fill in the blank]."

Now think about that statement for a moment. Our final descent: What, the next time we board the aircraft bound for this particular destination, we will not descend? Like the Flying Dutchman, we'll carom around the clouds forever? No descents for you!

Was there an interim descent of which Livia was unaware? Surely, she would have noticed if the oxygen mask had dropped, yes? Felt the bump?

Maybe all other descents were just practice runs, and this one is the one that counts on the pilot's permanent record. Perhaps he or she wishes to reassure us that after the plane touches the ground and taxis to the terminal, it will not sink beneath the tarmac, pretzels, mini-booze, and all.

Or is it "goodbye, cruel world"? Livia can certainly understand that sentiment--she has helped many a confused soul arrive at that conclusion, though certainly not while that person was operating a conveyance in which she was a passenger.

Livia remembers a time when pilots used the phrase "final approach." While clumsy, it does at least have the virtue of possibility: rush-hour traffic might have required a 50-mile roundabout--more than once, even--thus necessitating more than one approach.

But "final descent?" Scares the shit out of Livia, frankly.

LIVIA DRUSA