On the phone
“Everything´s ok.” My eyes went from one side to the other like a nervous pendulum.
“Yep, it´s on time.” Nobody´s intercepted me yet. “No problem at all. ” It seems no one is observing me.
What I really wanted to say was that I was bringing my guitar against the rules, that my knees were shaking, that I had bluffed, camouflaged, that I felt like a real smuggler. But what if someone overheard me and thought things were worse than they really were? Better be safe than sorry.
“Everything´s fine. See you tomorrow.”
I hung up and waited for boarding time. Sometimes it happens that the person doing the check-in also comes to help with boarding, and I was petrified. I probably waited another hour, but it felt like a hundred.
I noticed that there was another guitarist in the same waiting area. When they started boarding, I waited until he went in, to see whether they let him go or not.
Relief number one was that check-in lady did not come to help with boarding. Excellent. Relief number two was that guitar-player boarded without any hassle. Wonderful.
Even so, I picked a line on the right-hand side of the boarding counter. Why? Because this way the person taking my boarding pass would be on my left. And so what? Well, so that I carry my guitar with my right shoulder. Thus, the arm handing the boarding pass is not the arm carrying the guitar. Everything was planned so that my guitar would draw the least attention.
The Tunnel of Truth
The guy took my ticket, gave me the stub, and wished me a good trip. Another obstacle down, one more to go. But the one coming up was an important one: when (as described in part 4, “Attachments and Detachments”) I composed in my head the “Speech of Apprehension”(please note the pun), in my mind the scenario for the whole speech was the tunnel leading to the aircraft. Right on the curve, almost by the airplane entrance.
Well, said Tunnel of Truth extended itself before me now. I entered, with all my courage, expecting to be intercepted at any second. I went around the curve, almost sure that the worst would happen.
Nothing happened. I entered the airplane.
“It´s now or never!”, I thought to myself.
On the plane
“Your ticket, please. Aisle to your left, at the end.” The lady did not even look at Archimedes.
I found my seat, and placed my guitar in the bin right above (which was surprisingly empty). I slid sideways to the window seat, unfolding the little blanket as I did it. I covered myself, plugged my earphones, and breathed finally.
Yet another dangerous moment
Soon there came someone to sit beside me. He opened the overhead compartment, put his briefcase there and sat down, leaving the bin open. I didn´t like that. But I didn´t complain, I didn´t want to draw attention.
I turned up the volume of my mp3 player in a desperate attempt to escape the sound of boring conversations (“Dude, Paris is much better than Montreal, no comparison. The French are arrogant, but they´re chic.”). Absorbed in my sudokus, I didn´t even notice when they closed the doors and the crew started going through the aisles closing all the overhead compartments.
When I realized, the flight attendant was talking to the guy beside me. I pretended I didn´t see it, and started to pray. But the guy beside me poked me and said, loud and clear to whomever might want to hear: “No, it´s not mine. It must be hers.”