The lovely and talented editor of this column, and the editor of everything else you read in the MC Press online magazines, Victoria Mack, is a brilliant, kind-hearted, magnificent human being. Her editing skills are unparalleled. Her exceptionally strong work ethic and her dedication to her job and to the quality of what appears in these publications are truly mind-boggling. I don't know how much MC Press pays her, but it is undoubtedly far, far less than she deserves. It would have to be. There's not enough money in the world to properly compensate her. (Before she reads to the end of this week's column, I might desperately need any brownie points that these perfectly honest, heartfelt, understated compliments buy me. Heck, I may need them before the end of the next sentence.) That being said, I must also report that she has a mean streak--a low-down, dirty, rotten, disgustingly evil mean streak.
In addition to doing a superb job of editing my columns, Victoria also takes great pains to send me a steady stream of articles, culled from various news sources, that she thinks might serve as inspirations for my tirades. That sounds like a good thing, right? It usually is. But she recently forwarded an article from The Washington Post about AirTroductions, an online dating service dedicated to helping people find compatible seat-mates when they fly on commercial aircraft.
It works much like any online dating service except that, in addition to providing your profile and specifying the sort of person you're seeking, before you travel, you enter your flight details into the service's Web site. The service then lets you know whether there will be a suitable companion onboard. If so, for a fee, you can try to connect with and arrange for a seat next to your perfect match.
The article mentions, and Victoria highlighted in her email, that the site describes itself as "JDate meets the Mile-High Club." You're probably thinking that doesn't sound too evil. Oh, really? Just that one mention of the Mile-High Club set my mind thinking some outrageous, hilarious thoughts. I relished the idea of spinning a whole tirade around it. Then I remembered something: I can't. What's more, Victoria knows full well that I can't. (Get your mind out of the gutter. I can do that, and, just to set the record straight, Victoria has absolutely no idea as to whether I can or I can't, but I'm not allowed to tell you that, as I'll explain in a second.) That's why I think she is cruel for planting the seed in my mind.
You see, there are certain things that, for reasons of decorum and political correctness, MC Press won't let me talk about. Number one among them is sex. I'm not even supposed to use sexual innuendo no matter how veiled it may be. I have been able to sneak a few past them, but an article that prominently mentions the Mile-High Club? I don't think so. By the time Victoria finished censoring the naughty bits, the only thing left would be my bio. Even then, she would probably have to snip out the few unique, usually humorous sentences that I put at the end of my bio each week. I don't think anyone would greatly enjoy reading my one-paragraph bio without a column preceding it.
What else can't I write about? I can best answer that by quoting verbatim the email that I got back from Victoria after I wrote her to tell her how cruel she was for taunting me with an article idea that she knew she wouldn't publish. Here's Victoria's response:
"But seriously, even without the Mile-High Club, I think this could generate some pretty funny stuff. Suppose, for example, that two adamant Republicans wanted to find someone like-minded to spend five hours chatting with on a cross-country flight. And suppose two Democrats had the same idea. And then suppose these four people found each other online and chose to sit together...but only one aisle apart! Pandemonium! Oh, wait. We don't do politics in your column.
"OK, here's one. Suppose a guy who does acquisitions for zoos found online a trapper from Alaska for a flight from Juneau to Atlanta. And in the aisle in front were two members of PETA who had also found each other online. Imagine the hours of heated debate that all the other passengers would have the pleasure of enjoying! Forget the stupid movie. This is live entertainment, possibly even with some visual interest to accompany the audio. (As in the old Batman shows, BAM! POW!) Oh, wait. We don't talk about animals anymore.
"Here you go. The president of the Harry Potter Fan Club finds another HP fan to sit with so that they can relive Harry's fabulous adventures and speculate on what J.K. Rowling (my hero) has in store for those teenage wizards. But in the next aisle are a couple of irrepressible religious zealots on their way to a big revival meeting. The big question: Is Rowling a brilliant story-teller who has inspired millions of kids to actually pick up a book and read, or is she Satan incarnate, here to lead all the world's children into devil worship? Let the last man standing decide! Oh, wait. We don't discuss religion.
"Yes, I suppose you're right. I am pretty darn cruel, huh?"
Pretty darn cruel? Yeah, I'd say so. I'd say you were pretty damn cruel, except I'm not sure how often I can get away with using the word "damn." I've employed it a couple of times in recent columns, and I might have already exceeded my quota.
Let's sum this up. I can't use sexual innuendo; and don't even think about explicit sexual references. I can't talk about animals. I can't talk about religion. I can't talk about politics. Just about all that's left is the weather.
Of course, even though I can talk about the weather, I can't talk about hurricanes because my discussion might involve the government's response to them (politics), the way some people risk their own lives to save their pets and what I think about that decision (animals), God's role or lack thereof in bringing about the weather (religion), and what consenting adults did when the storm knocked the lights out (well, you know).
So here goes. The sky is overcast, but the clouds are beginning to break up. The rain that fell earlier in the day has stopped, and no precipitation is predicted for the next few days. The daytime high is expected to be 20 Celsius, which is 68 Fahrenheit. Winds are light and from the southwest. How are you enjoying this week's tirade so far?
But honestly, if I did write an article about AirTroductions, I'd probably want to mention the fact that whenever I fly anywhere alone (my usual state of affairs), I usually pray that the seat next to me will be occupied by a beautiful, extroverted (I'm an introvert, so conversations only get going if I'm paired with an extrovert), single nymphomaniac. Of course, I could never get away with saying something like that because of the sexual reference. I use it here only as an example of what I'm not allowed to say.
I'd probably also want to make some crack about how screwed up and desperate an atheistic heathen like me must be to pray for something like that. Keep in mind that I'm just saying that's the type of joke that I'd like to make. I'm not confirming or denying anything about my religious beliefs here. Heaven forbid. Again, I'm just saying, "for example..."
I might also want to make a joke about how people aren't always honest when they expose themselves to online dating services. Sometimes, they even post pictures of someone else if they aren't confident about their own appearance. After pointing that out, I would then, no doubt, have the urge to make some sort of joke--I'm not making it here, you understand; I'm just pointing out what I'd like to do--about the fact that this could lead to someone imagining that they were going to fly across the ocean sitting next to a suitable mate who looked like, depending on the gender of the seeker and his or her sexual orientation, Cary Grant or Marilyn Monroe in his or her heyday when, in fact, the seeker's companion bears a striking resemblance to a dog, and not a very attractive one at that. I couldn't say something like that because Victoria would have to cut it for at least three reasons: I can't make animal jokes for fear of offending animal lovers. I can't make fun of someone's (even a fictitious someone's) physical appearance. That would be politically incorrect. And I definitely can't refer to sexual orientation as you have to be sexual to have a sexual orientation--not to mention that it touches on some deep religious questions that are definitely verboten in these columns. I probably also can't refer to the dead in jest, but I'm not sure about that rule. Consequently, you can forget about that joke altogether. I'll never use it in this column.
So, as far as AirTroductions is concerned, I'm absolutely, positively not going to talk about it here. No how. No way. Oh and, incidentally, just by way of giving credit where credit is due, I should point out again that most of this week's tirade was Victoria's idea. I don't want to get her in trouble with her boss, but maybe--just a suggestion--maybe she should stop being so cruel to me. Then again, she has the power to edit out whatever she doesn't like, so you might never read this, my revenge on her.