ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri (Feb. 18)

Feb 18, 2020

Humor columnist Alexandra Petri will be online every Tuesday at 11 a.m. Eastern for ComPost live, where she'll offer a lighter take on the news of the day. Submit your comments on her columns and any other questions you might have.

Read Alexandra Petri's columns or catch up on past ComPost chats.

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Happy Tuesday, all! I hope your weekends were pleasant! Let’s converse! 

As it happens, you’ll be live chatting on my birthday. I’ll be spending it with my elderly parents, because. Do you have any advice?

Happy birthday! My advice would be to enjoy them! 

Will the American people wake up? When? (Sorry, that is 2 questions)

Not before noon! (Have I answered them both?) Speaking of waking up, have you all been seeing the Reclining Airplane Seat Controversy? (A man is in the back row where no reclining is possible; the woman in front of him reclines, he begins to hit her seatback) What is your ethics of plane reclining? 

You could also thank them for getting the ball rolling, so to speak, for the event you about to celebrate...

This is an option you have!

You can accidentally toss a drink over the seat.

I like a good ethics of escalation! 

Weingarten has been on this subject for years and I do not think there is a better answer than his: now that the airlines have squeezed more rows into planes, it is NEVER ethically correct to recline your seat and thereby intrude in someone else's space. (First class excepted. In this as in all things.)

Fascinating! I think this is a pretty sound rule! As with all sound rules, there are occasional exceptions! I suppose there are scenarios where you all want to nap and you can get a virtuous cascade of reclining. But at least I think we can all agree that the middle person gets both armrests, though she may surrender one to the aisle seat if aisle person asks nicely. 

Unless someone reclined into her, then it is obnoxious, but not enough to justify constant punching. Most important ethic is not to recline into people with a lap child. It is awful to the parent and if the kid is more than a tiny infant, it is definitely going to kick you - quite rightly - for the entire flight. I mean, you are just putting the kicking target that much closer to them, aren't you. It is like telling a toddler to not hug her lovey for three hours.

I think children are entitled to kick any plane seats they want, as vigorously as they would like. But if you continue to feel entitled to kick plane seats, there is a corollary...

So, I take a lot of pictures of our suburban wildlife -- red and gray foxes, weasels, deer, a rare fisher, some stray cats, raccoons, opossums, etc. -- with an IR-sensitive wildlife camera. I recently learned that many wild animals apparently go bonkers for the scent of Calvin Klein's "Obsession for Men" and would like to try using it as bait. But I am a middle-aged dude and I think I will look depressingly pathetic if I go up to a JC Penney cosmetics counter to buy "Obsession for Men" (or, I guess, for mustelids). I'd like to maybe hire a gen Zer to buy it for me, but I think if I ask it'll sound like an inappropriate come-on. Instead maybe I can sort of say, "it's for science" when I make the purchase but I need a non-sad way to do that. What do you suggest?

Hire a Taskrabbit! 

It was reported that he said "Ask if its OK first." I wondered when was the last time he even flew in Coach (or what I call Steerage) much less Business Class.

Clearly not recently! It’s chaos! I once watched a man in an airport give the finger to a baby! And the amazing thing was that he felt totally justified in so doing. And they were not even on the plane yet! 

"Sometimes, in order to right a wrong, you have to do a wrong-right." - Lego Batman

AP my feel that children are "entitled to kick any plane seats they want," but does this same opinion hold if said infant is also crying loudly for the duration of the flight?

This is tougher! I basically think that nothing children do on planes is their fault — they are uncomfortable, the plane ride feels like it lasts forever, and their ears are doing horrible things. I don’t understand people who think that the children or their parents are crying or wantonly allowing their charges to cry just for fun, respectively, simply because they want us to suffer. They are suffering the most! They are not voluntarily choosing this outcome! That being said, I think you should be crying or kicking and not both. And you should be making a good-faith effort to pacify the crying party. 

As long as your money (or credit card) is good, no one cares. Buy the darn stuff.

Order it online and have it delivered to your home in a discreet cardboard box.

it's not that hard, man

Have a past middle aged woman do it. I'm one, and I can tell you that most of us do not give a crap what retailers think of us. (I mean, I still try to be kind, but what clerk should judge me for spending money in their store?)

Uh, no. Only reclined seats. And at what point do you stop them, age 4? age 12?

Hmm yes I am beginning to notice that my proposal contained some flaws! 

Every time I fly, I check to see how much space the person has behind me before I recline. Just an inch or so is a bit more comfortable, but not if their knees get banged. And every single time, the person behind me is shocked that I'm checking at all. Is just being considerate so hard? I admit I even help people lift their luggage into the overhead bins and have no problem sitting next to people with babies so I'm kind of a weirdo.

Thank you for your service! 

I got my elderly parents chocolates with gin filling for Valentine's. They let me try one. I have no idea what the chocolatiers were thinking. Honestly, not really sure what I was thinking.

I cannot imagine this being a pleasant chocolate experience, but I would have done just as you did, on the grounds that “they wouldn’t sell it if it were actively unpleasant to eat,” a sentiment that has caused me much pain over the years. 

Due to a missed connection last week, I was forced to spend six hours in the horribly designed, signed, and operated Miami International Airport. During this ordeal, it occurred to me that a modern Dante Alighieri would no doubt include MIA as one of the modern day Circles of Hell. And what other contenders would fellow chatters nominate for consideration?

Oooh this is a good one. I would add baby showers. I am very pro- babies, you understand, but I do not like having to sit and watch people open things. I think the best-case scenario at a shower is that you do not notice it is a baby shower, and shower throwers so seldom obey this guideline. But I think this may be on the wrong scale to compete with MIA.

Likewise sitting next to children, because the odds are much lower that any of them will be drunk on the flight.

for the Flying V fan fiction event on February 28th. How will this thing work? You have something written ahead of time, but then there is a round of writing that takes place at the event? This is mostly during a drinking pause for the attendees, correct? Going to try to be there. Make sure they plug your new play when they introduce you...

Yes! I’m looking forward to it! I will have something written ahead of time, and this will be followed by a round of writing on the spot! I am trying to figure out what is the exciting pairing that folks crave! I’m thinking of something high-concept maybe, or perhaps I can contribute to the rich literature around Car Insurance commercial mascots. 

The greedy @#$% airlines should just take out a row of @#$% seats! This is one of the many reasons I do not fly any more. The train is slower, yes, but far less hassle and much more comfortable. Besides, I'm retired and I have all the time in the world.

Have your mother buy it. That'll give the store clerks something to talk about!

Sounds like something fraternity pledges might be forced to consume during initiation.

on hold with Comcast. I actually filled out the Consumer Reports survey this year just to yell about Comcast. I especially love when your service has just gone out and you call to report it and they say that there aren't any problems in your area. Of there aren't any problems in your database, nitwit. It just went out. I am reporting a NEW problem. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It is just NEW.

I had a colleague, in a job where we had to travel a lot, who always booked seats in the smoking section even though he didn't smoke because he figured the odds were much lower that there would be babies or children in that section.

I think if we could all know these preferences in advance we might be able to assemble a very pleasant plane, and the tragedy is that we do not have perfect information and thus the child-dislikers wind up next to children and the people who have been drinking wind up next to people who dislike this. 

are probably The Next Big Thing now that "artisinal gins" are being advertised as having "floral and citrus notes." Bleah. If it doesn't taste of juniper,it's not gin.

A television commercial and warning for some new medication is rife with potential, e.g. Ask your physician if Xgmaragon is right for you. Possible side effects include drowsiness, insomnia, constipation, diarrhea, death and dismemberment.

As a practical matter, I deal with the seat reclining issue by not flying much. Theoretically, I'm on Team "Have fewer rules and be considerate of the actual person". Check the situation, try to balance your needs with theirs, and maybe say something like "please let me know if my reclining makes you uncomfortable" after you've reclined and they can really know if it does or not.

This seems like the approach to which I am best suited, but people on planes sometimes respond strangely to well-intentioned overtures and this throws you off! 

Like Satan from Milton's Paradise Lost and Satan from Shaw's Don Juan in Hell? I'm the chatter that has argued that most of medieval and greek literature is basically fan fiction, so I'm all for high concept.

Yes! This is true and also a good high concept! 

Chuck E Cheese birthday party

Did you know the middle E stands for Entertainment? It is official canon that his name is Charles Entertainment Cheese! 

I called with an outage and the recording at the beginning said there was outage in the Baltimore area. I was told it was my equipment and make an appointment. They didn't believe that Gaithersburg is fairly near to Baltimore and maybe it was the system? I had to call back 15 minutes later when I realized I couldn't be home at my appointment time and guess what? The recording had added Gaithersburg to their outage area. At least they have that. We have RCN now and you get nothing while you're on hold.

Presidents Day? Presidents' Day? Where do you stand? (President's Day is simply incorrect, of course.)

I stand with the apostrophe! I think it’s their day!

Agree! Juniper, not oranges!! Floral and citrus notes may belong in vodka, but not gin. Bleah.

I used to be intimidated in high end stores, thinking that I was being judged by the clerks. Until I started working in a high end store, and realize the clerks have their own lives.

Always a vital reminder.

One time I ended up in first class next to a baby! (On an adult's lap.) The flight attendant felt bad for me, so kept the bloody marys coming. The baby was actually fine, and I didn't mind, but we could have ended up as all of these anecdotes at once -- the baby AND the drunk! I guess the reclining didn't come up.

All anecdotes united in one! I think this is a perfect note on which to end the chat! Have a great Tuesday, all, and see you on Twitter (@petridishes) and the blog— until we meet again next week! 

In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences." She joined The Post as an intern in 2010, after graduating from Harvard College.
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