Who Art (Not Quite) in Heaven

By Art Buchwald
Thursday, March 30, 2006

When you are in a hospice, you get a chance to sleep a lot.

I have this recurring dream. I am at Dulles Airport and I have a reservation to go to heaven. I go into the terminal and look at the list of flights. Heaven is at the last gate.

I don't know if they have reading material on the plane, so I stop at the magazine stand and pick up Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Playboy. I also buy a package of gum and some M&M's. Then I head toward security.

I have bought my ticket, which says, "When you go to heaven, you need only one bag, but do not include a cigarette lighter or sharp scissors." I stand in line for hours. I didn't realize how many people were on the same flight.

I run into several friends, and I'm surprised to see them. They hadn't mentioned they were going, too. In my dream, several of them are younger than I am, and I knew two who were smokers.

I finally get to the security gate, holding on to my bag for dear life.

The agent says, "You don't have to bring your computer with you. They have them up there."

I say to the agent, "I want to hold on to my bag because I don't want you people to lose it."

Then they make me take off my jacket, my belt and my shoes. When I ask why, the agent says, "You don't want to wear shoes in heaven. They scratch up the floor."

They send me through another gate because I have a pacemaker. Then they make me stick out my arms and they scan my legs with a wand.

I finally get to the departure gate. Dulles is crowded. In my dream, there are no seats in the waiting area, so I go to Starbucks to kill time. I'm not sure if you get lunch on the plane to heaven. For all I know, they give you a bagel and cream cheese and a soft drink. I am warned by an attendant that I can't get out of my seat on the flight. This is kind of silly, because who would hijack a plane to heaven?

It's open seating on the plane. I know heaven is a wonderful place, but on the way there you have to sit three across. As with all flights, there are emergency exits in case the pilot changes his mind. There are also life jackets under each seat. In my dream, the flight attendants are all beautiful. They hand out blankets and pillows.

Finally I go in. The loudspeaker says, "Heaven is at the last gate, with intermediate stops in Dallas, Chicago and Albuquerque. The plane has just arrived."

I go up to the desk and ask, "Am I entitled to frequent flier miles?"

The agent says, "You won't need any because you're not coming back."

Now this is the part of the dream I love. (Remember, this is my dream.) The loudspeaker says, "Because of inclement weather, the flight to heaven has been canceled today. You can come back tomorrow and we'll put you on standby."

2006Tribune Media Services

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