The Pickle Lady From Chicago Midway

The Pickle Lady From Chicago Midway

I adore the Golden Girls.

Blanche. Sophia. Rose.


Especially Dorothy.

Especially lately. I try filter that and be more like Rose, at least in public (as much as an introvert can be bubbly) without being a complete dingbat (difficult when I can’t track that one marble I have left).

But, in my head? Dorothy all the way, baby. Certain occasions require me to filter, filter, filter to keep the needle in the kindness zone.

At least until I can find privacy to get all the head shakes and eye rolls out of my system. A reset, if you will.

On that January trip to Vegas, I didn’t have to filter. Because whatever snarky, irreverent, or insulty thought I thunk came out of my Adultish-Male Child’s mouth. Loudly, sometimes.

He’s me with no filter.



A little snot.

Sometimes I don’t know whether to sulk over his declarations—or strut. A little, “Yeah. I made that. What’s it to ya?”

As promised in a previous post, here is my Dorothy-esque character sketch for the Hungover Pickle Lady (Overzealous Dam Guide will have to wait her turn) and travel with my kid who’ll bark out what I’m thinking (since I stayed quiet and sweet during the actual events):

It’s January 1. Completely full, sold-out flight.

Adultish Male Child has pneumonia. He’s on the struggle bus. Meaning, he's hyped up on cold medicine, feeling cruddy— and me with no filter. Meaning, heaven help the entire flight and the control towers on either side of the Mississippi.

And heaven help you folks on our Southwest flight, but half of y’all sittin’ next to us on this plane are gonna end up as side characters in some story. I’ve written out your cameos. Well, y’all wrote your cameos for me with your margaritas at seven a.m.

Hungover on 1/1/24 is one thing, but the lady sitting in front of Adultish Male Child is not hungover. She is straight-up drunk. Like get up to the bathroom five or six times between Chicago and Vegas, sway in the two-foot-wide aisle while grabbing onto strangers, then thud back in the seat each time that it simulates turbulence kind of drunk.

Folks in row, along with those across the aisle, put our hands out in case that thud breaks the seat back, sending her drunk rump flying into our laps. We give each other that look.

You know the one…

We’re all in this together, strangers, but now a united tribe trying to keep the seat intact so we can land the plane instead of circling Vegas for hours, hoping there’s a lone redneck with duct tape in their carry-on to make repairs—because there are no other seats to put her in.

We say this to each other with our eyeballs—that’s how connected we became.

Her travel mate in the row in front of her is on drink #5 or #6. That woman repeatedly calls the flight attendant to swap her drinks out because they don't taste right.

Well, honey, it’s airplane alcohol, which I have no experience with, but the 35,000-feet pretzels don’t taste as good as ones from the ground, so I imagine altitude alcohol may work the same way.

And it’s tired. It’s January 1. Party’s over. Even the alcohol is hung over. Push that little button on the arm rest, send your seatback into its 1.8-inch recline, and cool it. The sun is barely up. Pace yourself.

The wobbly one in front of Adultish Male Child finally settles down. Until… we hear a bag crackle. I’m thinking from a pack of those high-flying pretzels.

Then we smell it.


Straight up dill in a confined space with too many bodies in too-tight quarters.

Adultish Male Child comes the tiniest bit unhinged. And loud. “Who opens pickles on a plane? I mean really.” His rant continues… I’ll spare you.

Though I agree that pickles and planes don’t play well together, I want to dive under the seat, scrunch up like a carry-on bag and hide, sure that she will stand up and punch one of us in the face. Then I realize: She couldn't stand and aim a punch if her life depended on it. 

And I don’t think she hears his rage over all her crunching. Drunk, loud crunching. So not pickles, exactly. Pickle-flavored chips. Which she shares with the lady in front of her, because this snack evidently goes well with six margaritas.  

Noxious pickle fumes. I’m stunned the pilot didn’t do a courtesy oxygen-mask drop.

We land in Vegas, these ladies stand, waiting to get their overhead stash, and loudly recap their destination and further travel plans.

From their gregarious interchange, it's clear they are not entirely sure which city we're in. Nor where their connection will take them to meet up with the rest of their group.

Adultish Male Child opens his mouth to say something, likely loudly, then grows a filter—or more likely has run out of breath between the pneumonia and inhaling pickle particles. It’s not worth the effort.

I pick up the mantle (all brave now that I believe I could duck a drunk pickle punch if need be) and let out my inner Dorothy Zbornak. I strut down the aisle with a “I hope they get lost. In the wrong city. With their pickles.”

They were, quite frankly, the most oblivious, obnoxious passengers I’ve ever flown with.

But all is not lost, as this dynamic duo with their discombobulated travel plans may not end up in their intended destination, but they will certainly end up in a story.

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