I don’t know about you, but I like me some Hobbits. Yes, those short, furry-footed, food-loving, pipe-weed smoking bundles of mischievousness warm my heart.
Now, I know my nerd side is showing, but I don’t care. I fell in love with the little buggers when I first read J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Ring trilogy back in the long, long ago time of 1969. After that, I read “The Hobbit,” its precursor, and, of course, years later The Silmarillion. And … well, everything else Mr. Tolkein wrote. I remember going to the movies back in 2001 and noticing a poster that pictured only a ring. I thought, could it be, could someone have made a movie of the trilogy. Now, I know there had been one movie made of “The Hobbit” and one of “The Lord of the Rings,” but those were … how should I say this? … bad enough to make an orc choke. Sir Peter Jackson, however, has done Tolkein proud with his first three epics. So, as you might expect, I am hyped about the “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which opens on Dec. 14.
In fact, I am so excited, I might even consider boarding an airplane again. Me and airplanes aren’t the best of friends. You might say I am the type of person who feels if people were meant to fly, they’d have wings. Now, before you start making remarks about me being a scaredy-cat, or being chicken-livered, or being rabbit-spleened, let me just say I have good reason. I’ve never been a big fan of heights, so my first flights were rather nerve wracking. What’s strange is when a plane levels off, or even during the landing, I’m okay. It’s that takeoff that makes for a white-knuckle start.
However, I found that some of my nervousness could be negated by a trip to the airport bar before boarding. Then, of course, a few more potent drinks once we were in the air took the edge off and made for a more carefree flight. I’m thankful I was with another soldier when we landed in Anchorage, AK, or I might never have made it to Fort Richardson. Not making it to a duty assignment is considered a bad thing in the army. The army gets very annoyed with tardiness, and especially not showing up. I might not have showed up in the best condition, something an officer pointed out in a rather uncivilized manner before telling me to get a haircut, but I got there, which is more than I can say for the Ruskies.
So, you see, I have done some flying, but I never thought I would consider it again after the two shortest flights of my illustrious aviation career. My last two flights were from Bristol, VA/TN to Lexington, KY, and vice versa. Both times, I feared for my life. The first flight was of the morning variety, so the airport bar wasn’t open and, for some reason, the stewardesses were serving breakfast rather than scotch. Anyway, we were breezing along when all of a sudden we went into a steep dive. Coffee, orange juice and pastries, as well as the stewardesses and anyone standing at the time, went flying to the front of the plane. Turbulence was the explanation and some foul language was my reply. The next day, after my traveling companion talked me out of taking a bus home, we boarded the plane for our flight back. The flight went okay, but it took the pilot three attempts to land the frickin’ plane. When we taxied around on the runway, I could see grass. We had used every inch of runway. That’s when I vowed to never fly again.
However, that all changed recently when I heard about the shenanigans taking place on Air New Zealand flights. It seems that flights to the country where “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies were filmed, feature Gollum running around like a rabid weasel pointing to the emergency exits, and beautiful elven maidens serving as stewardesses. That’s the part that got my attention, elven maidens are hot. Of course, there are hobbits on the flights too, but all the furry-footed little boogers do are eat. With that in mind, I find I might risk the dangers posed by air travel … What? … There’s not really hobbits and beautiful elven maidens on the plane? … It’s just an inflight safety video about a supposed flight to Middle Earth?
What in the name of Frodo is going on here? It’s all a ruse? No hobbits? No Gollum? No Gandalf? No beautiful elven maidens? Well then, no flying for me.