Praying (They Don’t Think I’m Gonna Blow Them Up)

View as Single Page Single Page   

I’m reporting to you live on location from the airport lobby. At 6:00 AM, the place gleams with a shine usually reserved for window-washing commercials and baby’s backsides. Even when it’s hygienic, it still has that suspicious airport smell. I couldn’t tell you why. I think it’s just part of the way G*d created the world.

Anyway, it’s not 6:00 AM anymore. It’s a little past 9, and the place is a lot more filled and a lot less gleamy. And I’m in Terminal 5, the JetBlue terminal, instead of Delta, where my flight is, because people who fly JetBlue look less gloomy and because there is free (and non-hiccupy) internet.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

matthue roth with airportWe arrived at the airport and checked in at 6:02 AM. Turns out, Delta instituted a new policy — YESTERDAY — that you can’t check in baggage less than an hour before a flight. Need I say that our flight was at 7:01? So the rest of the fam ran ahead, and I hung back to be the proud defender of our baggage.

And to try and scrounge for another seat. Now, I have anxiety issues. At 7:00, there was a flight that they couldn’t get me on because they tried too late. At 7:45, same thing. Eventually, it was 8:30, I still didn’t have a ticket, and I was getting dangerously aware that the latest time I could possibly pray was rapidly creeping up.

So what’s a boy to do? What, indeed, except go and throw the politest, most courteous s#!+-fit that he could. And smile politely afterward and explain that he needs a ticket.

Sometimes, all you need to know is how to speak the language. Not more than five minutes later, ticket in hand, I sat, confident and assured that I still had nearly six hours to kill before my flight, and unwrapped my talis and start to pray.

This was the point where I noticed something was amiss. People were staring at me. And not in that hey-didn’t-you-write-a-book-I-read way.

I started swaying into the prayers, trying politely to ignore it. Then I took out my tefillin and started wrapping the black straps around my arm.

That was when they started looking at me like I was about to blow something up.