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Incognito Lounge

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I flew to Los Angeles and back this week on Virgin America.

The rules for Virgin America are the same as a dive bar:

1) daylight is toxic
2) become your atmosphere
3) repeat 1 & 2

The woman next to me swipes a credit card in her seat-screen and a flight attendant appears with a bag of dried mango and a bloody mary. It’s 10 a.m. She is watching Korean soap operas. I am gorging on the U.S. Open. My boyfriend is watching The Counterfeiters, which he has purchased by the clean swipe of his VISA.

Purgatory, my friends, may be paradise.

Yet things sour around hour #3. Despite the plug-ins, the teevee, the naughty lighting, flying is what it is. Babies cry. Pockets of bad air hang then mysteriously pass. I turn off my U.S. Open and fake-sleep.

Waking up, I fumble through my bag toward Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, brought from ye old New York Public Library. Though the last thing this Richard Branson mothership wants me to do is turn on my overhead light and open a raggedy book, I do. Johnson resets me. On page 138, he forecasts where I am going to land:

…when you hear the name “Beverly” you think of Beverly Hills–people wandering the streets with their heads shot off by money.

But Denis and I, we are still far from the swirling inferno of L.A. We’re hanging on Virgin America flight 318, the IPod of the skies. We press our seat-screen for a list of snacks. We see the King Size Snickers Bar. 3 bucks? Why not. We’re not anywhere, anyway.

[Photo courtesy of Paul Fugelsang]