The 'Mile High Club': does this count?

So on my flight to O'ahu, weekend before last, I didn't have the good fortune of sitting next to my wife. Instead, I was seated next to (let me try not to sound judgmental or shallow) an 'odd' looking individual.

I had a funny feeling as I sat down next to him and offered a "hi, how'ya doing?" Little response. He was about 35 years old, wrapped in his flight blanket with a large laptop computer on his lap. He vigorously banged the keys. He also kept smacking his own face, which shocked me the first time. I turned over to see what he was doing. No acknowledgement to me - he just kept typing.

I tried to be polite, and intentionally avoided looking at the laptop's screen. At first.

After about five minutes of continued keyboard banging and face-smacking (felt weirder by the minute!) I finally happened to glance over at the computer screen.

Hello! A big hairy penis!

That's right. The dude was on a sex-chat while looking at naked men. Now, I can honestly say I would have been equally shocked, female or male genitalia. One simply doesn't expect this sort of imagery on Hawaiian Air.

I almost didn't believe I'd actually seen what I actually saw - so I waited a moment, sort of deliberating my next move...

That's when the little oddling started thrusting under his blanket.


I felt very angry for having my "personal space" infringed on. All sorts of righteous indignation started frothing up inside. I aggressively leaned in toward my neighbor with my eyes wide for intimidation (every once in awhile I muster a little over-the-top performance-machismo). He looked up and gave a pathetic, "what?"

Like: what? I'm not masturbating in this seat next to you on a plane to Hawaii.

I got up and told the flight attendants (who were horrified), and took a different seat next to a sweet woman - a dairy farmer's wife. The flight felt much more wholesome after that.

But I've got to thinking since the flight (since calming down): do I really have a right to be so outraged? Do I have any stones to throw?

The only difference between me and Masturbating-Flight-Oddling is that he sees no need to hide his sin. Or doesn't have the capacity for subtlety.

I keep my hedonism secret. I trade my socially-inappropriate sins for more culturally acceptable ones.

John 8
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a dude caught masturbating on an airplane. They made him stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this oddling was caught in the act of playing with himself on a plane. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such creeps. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at him." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the guy still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked him, "Man, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

I'm not going to try to defend this weirdo who played with himself and looked at porn on an airplane. It still creeps me out to think about. But I think I was wrong to be as outraged as I was, initially. I got pretty puffed up there, on the plane...


Anonymous said...

Pete, buddy...I've got to disagree with you here. I think you were totally within your right to be outraged. To me the issue here isn't the "sin", (which I don't necessarily agree IS a sin), its that this guy made the choice for YOU whether or not you were going to "participate". Honestly, I don't think you'd have cared if he'd been doing what he was doing in the airplane bathroom. But, he choose to do it in a place that took away a choice for you. And that just isn't okay. It wouldn't be okay for a couple to have "unsinful" married sex sitting next to you on a plane, and it isn't okay for him to do what he was doing next to you. It isn't about the act, its about respect.

that's my two cents worth ( : Becca

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

Being outraged doesn't mean we're judging them. It seems we and the world go 'round in circles..., but I don't feel bad about being right, and I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong. Tolerance can be as sinful as legalism. But the bottom line is that the Constitution of the United States of America should never allow for murder and the Law of God written on my heart should always include "You shall have no other gods before me." Anything outside of that, and I should expect the consequences.

I should be angered by wrong doing. But no where in my rage should I pretend that I have no sin, that I get heaven based on my own merit, especially in light of the one who sins worse, or in your case, more weirdly than others. If my son or daughter lies, for instance, I'm not sure the right thing to do is..."My dear child, I am also a sinner, therefore I can't be angry that you just egregiously lied to me."

Crazy freakin' story by the way. That'll go down in the annals.

Barb B said...

Peter, I'm curious why you chose that particular scripture. Jesus also overturned tables, and called names on occasion. Apparently he didn't tolerate just anything.

As I see it, judgment is not the issue, nor is gender or sexual preference.

I work in a library,and you probably know that the ALA is about as liberal (read tolerant, or even permissive) as you can be. But we do not allow patrons to view porn on the public computers, and certainly not to masturbate while viewing. We have actually encountered that problem. The person was banned from the library for one month. He came back after a month and didn't repeat the offense for a year. Now he can't use the computers for another month.

It's not a matter of judging the person; it's about equal rights. HE has a right to look at what he wants to, but I have the right to abstain. Forcing me to watch is akin to rape. It denies me the right to say no.

Don't be so hard on yourself. It's not unchristian to have some boundaries

Peter said...

Thanks for the encouragement everyone. And I probably should have been more clear in my post: in the end, I'm not trying to excuse the little pervert in any way. But I felt convited about the "righteous indignation" I felt about it. I know what arrogance looks like in me, and I caught a whiff on the plane that day. I'm not better than this guy - I just have more appropriate boundaries.

Rick, I agree - judgment can be ok in certain instances. But it's important to be careful where that judgment is coming from, and what it is (or isn't) internally affirming for me (e.g. superiority).

Yes, it's a pretty great story, isn't it? Almost feel fortunate to be able to retell ;)

Barb - good point. Any number of Scriptures could have been used here. But most of those would be to justify my outrage and judgment. Which is fine. But I think it's more personally helpful to focus on Scriptures that demand a change in ME. Can't do much for the oddling but pray his life finds some kind of order in the midst of chaos... or loneliness.

Peter said...

Convicted, not 'convited.'

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