Monday, July 30, 2012 | 1 p.m.
After boarding a connecting flight in Chicago that was bound for Düsseldorf, three things immediately occurred to me. First, there was virtually no leg room, and this will be a claustrophobic ten hours. Secondly, my chair back doesn't recline enough to compensate for any lack of leg room. And lastly, this fly, which is buzzing around the cabin, has plenty of leg room.
I quickly realized that while at least one passenger could spread out a little, it had a significant problem.
A fly can live anywhere from 15 to 30 days. So, accidentally boarding an airplane to a destination that takes nearly half of one of those days to reach seems to be an incredible waste of a limited life. It's already a fly that flies already, so it wasn't aboard for the novelty of the whole thing.
It's unlikely the fly knew what it was doing. The odds of it having immediate family in Düsseldorf were a long shot. And if it did have family elsewhere in Europe, was Düsseldorf simply the least expensive port of entry to the continent as it was for us? Certainly the fly didn't need to make an additional connection to reach someplace like Athens for the history, Venice for the romance, or Ibiza for the clubbing.
And being early July, the prospect that it was making its way to the 2012 London Summer Olympics is at best minimal, for in fly years the Olympic experience would essentially require a dedication of half its life.
The AARP half.
This is a big mistake from a tiny creature. This fly wasn't coming back to Chicago, and its family would certainly realize that it has turned up missing. Halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, as this fly continued to stretch out within my already quite limited personal space, some grainy picture had been pulled from its Facebook page and was placed onto miniscule milk cartons all around the Chicagoland area.
Little fly AMBER Alerts went up, it can be guessed, and little fly awards were being offered for any information that lead to the locating of this beloved fly - a mother of 150 (assuming this fly was a female, and it can only be assumed and not verified) and an avid yoga practitioner.
Only I had the key for its safe return, but with no identification and unable to speak the language, my options were limited, and its fate was sealed.
What a negative assumption, I thought. There isn't always misfortune in the world. Sometimes, there is joy. A happy ending may have awaited the fly just an ocean away.
After all, this situation is not like that of the three gnats that, days later, became trapped in the rental car in Bingen, Germany. Unlike an airport with ample signage and multiple public address announcements, the gnats had no clue as to where I would be driving next. I can only hope they enjoy their new homes in Köln, despite not having brought any of their belongings.
Eventually I dozed off and was able to feel better about the fly, and worried less about the dinner table of 150 wailing fly babies and the eventual waning interest on fly news outlets around northern Illinois.
I awoke shortly before landing in Germany, and began to gather my items for deboarding. A rental car waited, as did an adventure to feed the soul and the mind, and to hopefully provide a cause for thought, art, music, new friends and a chance to borrow another person's lifestyle for a few people-days.
I turned to look out the window, and there was the fly resting - as any being can while clinging vertically to something - and looking out at the patchwork of farm lands, industry, and winding rivers and streams. And we exchanged a knowing and anticipatory grin.
That was the last I saw of that fly, I think. They kind of all look alike. But after the hustle of springing up to gather items out of the overhead bin, walking through the jetway, and being admitted into the country by virtue of the clanking of a stamp to the passport, I walked into the terminal where two limo drivers held signs bearing names of imminent passengers.
There, one read "McFly." And so a part of this mystery was solved. This fly was Irish, and it was apparently very wealthy.
Billy Johnson is the president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Wranglers.