Parting Glances: Dropping In For Won Ton

Charles Alexander
By | 2014-07-10T09:00:00-04:00 July 10th, 2014|Opinions, Parting Glances|

I’m sitting in a popular Somerset Mall Chinese restaurant where I’m distracted by two improbabilities: an astounding free fall record I’m reading about and a waitress named Susie who persists in calling me Honey.
Honey, this. Honey, that. Over servings of Won Ton Soup, Sweet & Sour Pork. Tons of rice.
The paperback, “180 fascinating Questions and Amazing Answers about Science, Health, and Nature,” blows my mind when I read its subtitle: “Can You Drill A Hole Through Your Head and Survive?” (Simon Rogers, ed.; Skyhorse Publishing.)
I’m probably to blame for Susie’s billing and cooing because, hoping to get attentive service in a crowded restaurant, I order by Power-of-Positive-Thinking: “I take it you’re the young, attractive, personable, intelligent, eager waitress who’s going to efficiently take my order.”
Susie’s first ‘honey’ is barely audible. The next ten come with increasing articulation and allurement as it gets nearer to my fortune cookie time.
Reading “Drill-Hole” pages between soup (the bowl could easily serve three) and Sweet & Sour dish (enough for two Pekinese doggy bags), I come across this Q&A: “How big a fall can a person survive?” Indeed? I muse, sipping my Oolong tea in Zen-like koan contemplation . . .
Turns out the distance is 30,480 ft. The lucky, lucky person to eventually land in Guinness Bookland is stewardess Vesna Vulovic, who in 1972, age 22, survived a terrorist bomb planted (sound familiar?) aboard a JAT DC 9 flying from Copenhagen to Belgrade. Crew 29 passengers and her parents, perished without a trace.
(The Vesna entry is followed with a less spectacular item, nonetheless memorable, considering the party’s age and, one supposes, senior citizen’s determination to beat acrobatic odds: “A 102 year-old woman survived after toppling from her fourth-floor balcony in Turin. Fortunately, her fall was broken by a children’s playhouse.”)
Intrigued, wanting more details about Miss Vesna (worried too that waitress Susie – mistaking me for a straight, wealthy, aging lothario – is either about to kiss-me-quick-it’s MSG or ask me for my cellphone number.) I hastily pay my tab, deducting 10 cents tip for each ‘honey’ endured. At home online I find . . .
Vesna survived in the JATDC 9 fuselage wreckage. She told reporters, “The man who found me said that I was in the middle part of the plane. I was found with my head down and a colleague on top of me. One part of my body with my leg was in the plane and my head was out of the plane.
“A catering trolley was pinned against my spine and kept me in the plane. The man who found me, said I was very lucky. He was with Hitler’s troops as a medic during the War. He was German. He knew how to treat me at the site of the accident.”
Was Vesna, who later married and after ten years with no children divorced, lucky? “No,” she claims readily at age 64, “I’m not lucky. Everybody thinks so, but they’re mistaken. If I were lucky I would never have had this accident and my mother and father would be alive.”
Over my next-day’s Sweet & Sour leftovers, I wonder how my own life might have been lived differently if I had survived a six-mile tumble like Vesna? Oh, yes: my fortune cookie: “Keep travel plans to a minimum. (Honey!)”

About the Author:

Charles Alexander