A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

I love meeting new people. I don't like flying and used to sit by the window so I could look out and possibly alert the pilot should I notice something unusual outside, like another plane or a witch on a bike. Then I heard that doctors recommend sitting on the aisle so you get up and walk during the flight and avoid deep vein thrombosis. I've now given up aiding the pilot.

What good am I seated by a window if we start to crash? In an aisle I can get out before those slow women and children.

In times of turbulence, I take five Deepak Chopra guided breaths and write a quick goodbye love note to Bob on my iPhone which I hope he finds among the rubble after the unlikely event of an emergency.

I heard all airplanes are equipped with emergency supplies for the flight attendants to use. They have Epipens to jab in your neck if you have a peanut allergy, a pair of dark glasses to put on any passenger who dies mid-flight and an emergency Valium if passengers freak out at 35,000 feet about the dead guy in seat 22C. Since I usually have dark glasses on, to avoid being mistaken for dead, I periodically move my head and manage a smile.

Looks can be so deceiving. Last month I was flying to Chicago. It was a short flight and being an extremely practical guy, I sat happily in an exit row. I was excited because I was auditioning a new traveling costume.  I always fly in a jacket, not only to look different from the flip-flop crowd, but also to save room in my luggage. And I'm ready to hit the town when I land. This new "uniform" is a white Faconnable warm up suit. It has red and blue stripes going up the legs and around the collar, and my navy Zegna blazer popped over it made up the ensemble. Comfy? Yes. All white practical for flights? Who cares.

I settled in, putting up my personal Do Not Disturb sign, which is me putting on headphones and stuffing my laptop in the seat back pocket. Life may be about the journey, not the destination, but on a flight, it is my journey and I need to write or color.

I saw a big, muscled young man lumber down the aisle. He sat opposite me in the opposing aisle seat. He then uttered one of most feared phrases when flying to the man next to him, "I hope you don't mind a chatty flight companion."

His fellow passenger was actually thrilled to have this new best friend, and proceeded to tell him about his beekeeping hobby. Even though I wore noise cancelling headphones, I can now tell you about his beekeeping hobby and how his old hippy girlfriend and her one shrunken ovary.

Glad not be involved in any way, I hunkered down to my laptop and only raised my head when I realized that the young man was on about his ninth vodka.

I started sneaking pics on vodka 5
Eddy Murphy chalked his bravery in Beverly Hills Cop up to "lack of pussy makes you brave." I need not remind anyone that nine vodkas makes you potentially brave and an asshole. I wasn't even comfortable sneaking silent photos, much less risking making eye contact with this non-sleeping giant. Maybe white wasn't the smartest choice as a traveling costume; I didn't want to sully it with hard-to-remove blood from the pummeling I feared.

I stayed to myself, this was not my moment to be bullied. I even tapped the keys of my laptop in a non-threatening cadence, hoping the Disney-esque theme would pacify and not get him angry. It was only a 2.5 hour flight, so one would think the flight attendants would cut him off; however, he just flagged down a new stewardess like Rush Limbaugh hopped from doc to doc shopping for pain med prescriptions and wives.

The flight neared Chicago and I put away my electronic devices and stowed away my tray table along with my feelings. I could feel him looking at me every few minutes, but I kept very very still, like I was on a nature walk and encountered a bear. I hoped vodka had dulled his sense of smell.

He leaned over, I flinched a little.

"Can I ask you something?" he asked anyway.

Here it comes, I thought. I'm going to get the shit beat out of me and it's my own damn fault. 

"Sure," I said, as if I had a choice.

"I have been afraid to talk to you this entire flight, and I hope you don't mind me saying this, but you are the most fascinating person on this flight. Your clothes, your hair..." he said.

 I raised my hand to stop him, secretly relieved he wasn't beating me up.

"Wow, so kind, man. You surprised me. But you should never be afraid to speak to anyone," I advised, channeling both Jesus and Maude. 

He looked at me through his sloshy eyes and I took advantage of him like a gay hawk lurking outside of straight strip clubs, preying on wasted guys hopped up from fruitless lap dances.  I looked around the plane and leaned closer to him across the aisle.

"I the second most fascinating guy on this flight. After you.

His whole face turned into a huge smile.

"I think I might love you man!" easily slipped out of his Absolute-lubed mouth.

We walked off the plane together. He was home. He told me he was going to call in sick to work the next day. I concurred with his decision, and granted him his one wish, this picture:

I miss him. He's exactly my type: drunk and hunky.

I have got to open my eyes and travel smarter through life.

1 comment:

  1. "...channeling both Jesus and Maude."
    Hilarious. The whole thing.


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