The first surprise was the packet of honey-roasted peanuts she got on the plane. You're not in Kansas, anymore, Toto. Peanuts. Peanuts and pineapple juice. Usually she has pretzels and tonic water with lime. No fat-free tasteless pretzels that stick in her teeth for Korean Air. Peanuts! She eats the peanuts with relish, wishing for the days when no one was allergic to peanuts, as they are the perfect airplane food. She wouldn't normally have gotten pineapple juice, but she's sitting next to the youngest gingerbread boy who loves pineapple juice, and it's easier to simply say, "Two, please."
The second surprise was the packet of toys the flight attendant gave to her gingerbread boys. One got a drawstring bag with a magnetic doodle pad in it, and the other a stuffed tiger and a blanket. Just because. Koreans love children.
After that, not much was a surprise. The flight was long. The flight was uncomfortable. The flight made her sick.
Supper was a choice of bibimbap or beef stew. She chose bibimbap. When in Rome, and all that. Might as well start now. Her neighbor gave her advice on the tube of hot pepper paste, because she added only the tiniest of squirts. The neighbor practically laughed. In fact, she did laugh. She also suggested she add the sesame oil.
So she squirted some more pepper paste, dumped some oil, and mix-mix-mixed. It wasn't bad for airplane food.
Then the flight attendants turned the lights low so they could sleep. Next thing she knew, they were bringing around trays of orange juice. She wondered what they would bring around for breakfast. What did Koreans eat for breakfast, anyway?
The youngest gingerbread boy wanted pancakes. She knew there wouldn't be pancakes. Something was cooking, though. Sausage?
Her feet felt like they were sausages from having sat in one place for so long.
No. Second supper. Apparently, they crossed the international date line. The orange juice was a nod toward breakfast, lunch was skipped entirely, and it was time for supper again, even though it was only 2:30 am. This time, they had a choice of pasta or chicken and mashed potatoes. The small foil packages reminded her of the free lunches given out to kids at her elementary school.
The first sight she had of Korea was a reflection of metal. The second sight was of sand bars and islands covered in green foliage. Then there was more land: roads, bridges, tiny little cars driving. Soon she, too, would be one of millions in a tiny little car driving toward a destination. But her eyes would be closed.
It's hard work eating supper at 2:30 am.