The technological parade of welcome: I was already dead with fatigue. Thank you for flying with us today, here is your ticket, change planes in Chicago, you’ll have to change planes in Chicago, change in Chicago. They said it so often I began to get the idea I should change planes in Chicago. Change planes: the phrase began to lose any reference to travel; it acquired a dread phenomenological taint. But I did not change those sorts of planes in Chicago. Rather, in Chicago I changed size. For when I deplaned (more tech-talk) I walked into Big People Land.
I was obliged to go a short distance through a glass tube, the story of a life, from one gate to another. I then had an hour, a whole, giant hour to myself. In Big People Land. And there they were. They were all about me: large surely-moving salesmen and mammoth middle managers, corn-fed beef-fed farm-bred monuments to metabolism. Flying from dairy states to beef capitals to commodities centres. From Fon-du-Lac to Dubuque, their huge briefcases stuffed with meat. Clinching beefy deals with muscular handshakes. Their faces were florid Mt Rushmores with aviator spectacles and sideburns uniformly metallic; their eyes, bovine, the size of Dutch plates, reflected their Low Country ancestries. Their hands were steam-shovels, their shoes big as our tiny neurotic New York family car. I’m not talking fat, although flesh is essential in Chicago. I’m talking big-boned, as the apologists say. I, a tiny undernourished New York worrier, had been injected into the enlarged heart of America.
Airports like abattoirs are white. All this moving meat, these great bodies laughing, phoning, making valuable contacts, astonished me. I was overwhelmed by the size of everything and everybody, their huge bigness! I had to sit down. But where? Everything I sat in dwarfed, engulfed me. I was a baby opossum, writhing in a tablespoon in a Golden Nature Guide. I felt fear, tininess and hunger. I decided the only way to become as big as the Big People was to begin eating.