Tough Cookies

I’m writing this from my return fight from Atlanta to Seattle. I don’t love traveling for work so much (because deep down I’m a creature of habit and hate being thrown out of my routine. Okay, not so deep down. I really don’t like it) but I do love hotels. I don’t care about the bedbugs (maybe a little bit) or the fact that a bottle of Dasani cost $5. I love hotels. Even on a work trip if feels like vacation. I came to Atlanta to attend the International Reading Association on a mission to bring Mirrorstone books to the masses.

I rode in on a Delta flight 6024. I tell you this because I like to discuss airplanes the way Ebert writes about movies or the Top Chef judges wax arrogant about the competitor’s food offerings. I’ve always liked Delta and their inconspicuous, non-elitist ways. You never hear about Delta implementing the “only one carry-on rule” or “we’re charging for peanuts!” or “Second bag to carry-on? Super! That will be $50!” Seriously, Airline-People-in-Charge. There’s already room in the cabin for 2 carry-ons per person. Are you really going to make me choose between my laptop and my stinking Ziploc bag filled with incidentals? Must we make this whole flying thing as unpleasant as possible? Is anyone still confused as to why all the airlines are bankrupt?

I dirgress…

Delta does all of those crappy things to their passengers but they at least seem sorry for it. They’re like, “Hey, we didn’t choose to charge you for this fruit plate. We’d give you the fruit off our own kitchen tables if we could. But they’re making us do it. Crazy, huh?” I believe you, Delta. I do. But as my dad used to say, “Do you want to be a leader or a follower?” I didn’t get what he was trying to tell me back then. My first instinct would be to follow because I inherited my mother’s horrible sense of direction. In fact, yesterday I got off the elevator with 2 other people. I led them right into a corner. For real. Nothing to see here, people! It’s just a corner. I could have taken a left or a right and ended up in the lobby but I went straight and so did they. Let me tell you, it’s awkward standing in a corner with a couple of strangers. Another time, I was probably around 8, I was in Ocean City, NJ with my family. We went to an amusement park where someone had the bright idea to stick me in the house of mirrors. HORRIBLE place! Just awful! Who wants to see their lost little self reflected into infinity? And with bad lighting! I gave up. I stopped right in the middle of that stupid glass house of torture, sat down and burst out crying. The woman who took the tickets had to come inside and rescue me. So, while I know the correct answer is to be a leader, I should be a follower. Sorry, Dad. It’s for my own and the safety of others.

But again I digress. This is about Delta.

Delta used to have an imprint (for lack of a better word—my mind is still mired deep in the publishing world) airline called Song. I say “used to” because I have no idea if they still exist but I will always remember them fondly. They were meant to be Delta’s “fun fleet.” The cool, laid back cousin who gives everyone a leather seat and FREE Direct TV access. Don’t want to watch CNN or a special on Rio de Jinero? Don’t! It’s your TV. They also had a trivia game that you could play against your fellow passengers. We only knew each other by our seat assignments and game name. I was Fifi 13B and I rocked that game. Not sure why as trivia games, especially where how quickly you answer the question matters, usually stress me out and cause me to instantly choke. But Fifi 13B got lucky. This flight happened to have an abundance of questions about fashion, pop culture and Sex and the City I took the lead and never looked back. 3,000 of miles of trivia genius! One of the flight attendants came over to say, “Everyone wants to know who’s sitting in 13B. I’d be careful when you deplane, Fifi.” Sorry, everyone. Maybe you should have stuck with CNN. Poor sports.

Delta, the more stogy, yet still friendly cousin, still gave me a leather seat and what I eventually learned was free Direct TV. I didn’t know it was free until I noticed the man in 32 B watching Spice Up My Kitchen. HGTV is worth paying for in my book but I’m not sure everyone would feel that way. With a few knocks on my touch screen TV, there I was, fully immersed in a kitchen remodel! Chalk one up for Delta.

The bathrooms—excuse me—lavatories—had hardwood floors. It’s weird really as this 1×2 area is the only place on the whole plane with hardwood floors. Nice though. And they have a wonderful lemongrass wasabi soap in there. Chalk two up for Delta.

While Delta is charging you for snacks, they’re at least good snacks—trail mix, a Dove chocolate bar the size of a brick, a Costco sized bag of peanut M&Ms. They also have fruit and cheese plates and sandwiches. The secret is they also have some delicious complimentary treats like cheese and crackers (that fake, spreadable orange cheese on wheat crackers—delicious!) a tiny bag of peanuts housing 6, maybe 7, salted nuts, and best of all—Biscoff cookies. Can we take a moment to appreciate the Biscoff cookie? What’s up with these little slices of cookie heaven? And why can they only be found 33,000 feet in the air? Only on certain flights are they offered and when they are, take them! Take them at whatever cost. They’ll be worth it. I take it as a good omen that I got the Biscoffs. Complimentary no less. Chalk 138 up for Delta.

Delta also offers trivia. Fifi 13B is retired but Annoying Annie in 34C was not. Wow. Is there little more irksome than someone aggressively pushing buttons on a screen essentially attached to your shoulder blades? It’s like she was constantly going, “You, you, hey you, you, you, you, you there? Hello? You?” and by the way, Direct TV blows. Somewhere over Oklahoma my screen turned into a Jackson Pollack painting all pixilated and choppy. I never got to see the result of that “green kitchen make over.”

The best part of the flight—and sorry Delta you can’t take credit for this—was that I was in a row of 3 with only 2 people. My seatmate and I took over the middle seat with our magazines, water bottles, and jackets. We’re even using “Seat D’s” tray table for our coffee and Biscoffs. If only my TV worked this would be a near perfect experience.

The third time I hit the lavatory (in 2 hours. I’ve got the bladder of a newborn. What can I say?) I ran into the four flight attendants drinking sodas and munching on complimentary snacks. Against my better judgment I found myself asking if they had more of those fake cheese and wheat crackers. I didn’t want the cheese and crackers so much as I wanted to fight the urge to stuff my face with Biscoffs.

“What about cookies?” one asked. “Want some more of those too?”

Clearly she saw through me. Or maybe she saw the way I was eying the drawer that housed them. But should I really go down that road? Do I really need more Biscoffs? A familiar voice shouted, “Yes!”

“I love those cookies,” I tell the gaggle. “And I love airlines that give them out. But why can I only get them on airplanes?”

“You can order them from the company!” another said with the same enthusiasm as if she just discovered you could cure adult acne with an 800#.”

No!

“If you live in Seattle,” the third pusher said, “you can get them at Safeway.”

No, no, no! I live 48 seconds from a Safeway! Now the whole mystery is gone from these little cookie charmers! My local Safeway has them? What a letdown.

Those crafty flight attendants went on to give me tips on how to eat my now readily available snacks.

“Dunk them in a tub of cream cheese—tastes just like cheesecake.”

“Spread a little Nutella on them.”

“Add a squirt of lime to the cream cheese and it takes just like key lime pie.”

Curses, people! Don’t arm me with this information! I suggest they work on a cookbook. Creative ideas for complimentary airlines snacks. They look at each other with that Good-idea-who-wants-to-start-because-I’m-too-busy look.

I have to go now. I really need to go to Safeway. I’m out of milk and avocados and after all that southern food, I could really use a piece of lettuce. No, no, no, I’m not going to get Biscoffs. Is that you what thought? Of course not! I haven’t seen the cookie aisle in 7 years. Besides, I have a whole cargo shipment set to arrive in the next 5-7 business days. What? It’s for the cookbook. 1,001 Ways to Enjoy a Biscoff. You’ll thank me.

If you would like to order your own Biscoff cookies, call 800-422-2924 or check out biscoff.com. And feel free to send me your recipe ideas.

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