I don't know what I did on my flight home - maybe I managed to piss off the check-in agent? Who knows. But I got to security at O'Hare and the security guy uttered those words that everyone loves to hear:
"You've been selected for extra security checks today, sir". And he said it like "You've been selected to win one million dollars today, sir". Great.
So once I'd gone through the ridiculousness of taking off shoes, belt, watch, harness, etc, I had to follow him to a small booth in the corner. Memories of Israel are coming back to me at this point.
There wasn't much in the way of politeness as he went through my pockets, opened my bag, fanned his way through my books - all without asking permission. Then he opened up my laptop and turned it on.
"Shouldn't you be asking if I mind you doing this?" I said. I was pretty outraged by the way he was going through all of my things without a please, thank you or may I. I was thinking that - if I wasn't onto a promise in Phoenix - I'd never be darkening these shores again.
He ignored my question - mute? - and took swabs from all available surfaces - including my hands, my shirt and the soles of my shoes. he processed them through his little explosive/drug detector machine. Nothing came up, obviously - although, I was a bit worried about what I may have trodden on in the night club last night.
Finally I got away and had to run to my gate for the flight to Detroit. In Detroit I had no time again and had to run to the gate for the Paris flight. Luckily I had time to stop and buy some 'night time' extra strength cough medicine (I'm suffering, folks. I'm suffering).
On the way out - the daylight flight - NWA had put me in Business Class, which was lovely. Alas, they never upgrade me when I most want it and so the overnight flight back to CDG was in coach. Which is absolutely fine, but Business would have been nicer.
I flop into my seat and say a quick 'howdy' to the person sat next to me. I do a double take. She's possibly the most glamourous person I've ever sat next to on an aeroplane (and I've sat next to Antoine de Caunes from LAX to CDG once. It was all I could to stop myself licking his cheek while he was asleep).
She was aged about sixty five, a lady of color and quite, quite beautiful. She had the kind of skin that I wanted to touch to see if it was real. She had this amazing long (I mean LONG) grey hair that was straight as a die, and she was wearing a scarlet trouser suit. There was, admittedly, an element of Mrs Claus to the ensemble, but hey, I was in the glamour row, what did I care if I looked like Santa's helper?
So, we settled in for our journey home. Me on the aisle, Mrs Claus in the window seat. Before eating dinner I took my cough medicine and very quickly (before the tray had been cleared) I found my head nodding. Slumber beckoned.
I woke up and looked at the screen. 1 hour and 15 minutes to go before Paris. I'd slept for six hours. And I'd blocked this poor woman in her seat for six hours too. I turned to apologise to her and nearly jumped out of my skin. it was all I could do to not scream.
During the flight she'd taken all of her lovely long hair and put it into rollers. Hair curlers. All of it. A full head of plastic bobbins. And she'd taken off her make up.
It was like waking up next to one of Marge Simpson's sisters.
But what amazed me more than anything wasn't how this ageing supermodel had turned into my Grandmother, but more the fact that she had put in a WHOLE HEAD of rollers without waking me up. And without leaving her seat.
As they took away our 'breakfast' trays, she got out a big, ugly bag. She started to apply her war paint. And then, one by one, the rollers came out.
With a shake of the head and a bit of a ruffle of the hand through her locks, she was transformed.
I was sat next to Madonna. At least, that's how good she looked.
Trust me, that's the last time I take drugs on a plane. Even if it is only cough medicine.