Mark D. Roberts

On a recent airplane flight to New York, I was checking out the SkyMall catalogue. I’ve never actually bought anything from Skymall, but I am sometimes entertained by its contents. This time was no exception.

brobdingnagian-chair-5.jpgFirst, I was surprised to see a word that rarely appears in literary English these days, let alone in shopping catalogs. The word is “Brobdingnagian,” as in “The Brobdingnagian Sports Chair.” You can get the basic meaning of this word from the picture. In fact, a truly Brobdingagian sports chair would actually be much bigger than this one, and would no doubt cost more than $149.95. The word “Brobdingnagian” comes from Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, Gulliver’s Travels. Brobdingnag is a land populated by giants and other oversized stuff. Thus, “Brobdingnagian” means “really, really, really big.” Whether you’re tempted to buy the giant chair in the SkyMall catalog or not, at least you’ve got to admire the literary allusion.

plane-pillow-man-5.jpgThe next item that tickled my fancy is something I’ve seen in airline catalogs for quite some time. It’s called SkyRest, and it’s a peculiar travel pillow. As you can see in the picture, this triangular pillow sits on the a tray table, thus allowing you to sleep by leaning forward. The copy for the ad refers to “thousands of satisfied customers.” Given the fact that they’ been running this ad for a while, I’d assume that people actually buy this pillow. But I have never, ever seen one in action on any flight. Have you? Would you risk looking as silly as the guy in the picture if you could get some shut eye on a flight? 

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