Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sometimes you sit next to the crazy person; sometimes you are the crazy person.

I think you'd all agree that there's nothing pleasant about air travel anymore.

It's all annoying. And on top of security lines and the three-ounces of liquid restriction bullshit and the delays and the tiny seats, you're squished in with strangers. You've always been squished in with strangers; you're just more squished now. And you're probably already irritated by the time you get on the plane.

So your stranger tolerance is very low. Or at any rate, mine is.

I left, or anyway tried to leave, Friday afternoon for Chicago. I got to National an hour ahead of my flight. I'd checked in online, and only had a carry-on. I had plenty of time. Only to find it delayed one hour. Then two.

And then we boarded and sat on the bloody runway for an hour and a quarter.

I was in a window seat - stuck! hate being stuck! - next to a blonde, pink, slightly chubby, way too eager guy. He kept making little noises so I'd turn to start a conversation. Which, after two hours of sitting at the airport, I was having none of.

For example, when they announced we'd sit on the runway for 25 minutes, he said, "Oh, no!"

And I growled, "Goddammit!"

And then they announced it would be almost another hour. And he said something like, "Well, could be worse!"

Just as I said, "Fuckers." Nice, I know. In fact, I dropped a lot of the F-word. As I am wont to do.

But honestly, after two hours in the airport, and facing at least an hour on the runway, why on earth am I going to want to start conversing with eager guy? Because I know how it goes - I'm stuck for the next couple hours. I've stupidly done that before.

I almost asked him why, why on earth, why would you want to make conversation with the angry, profane stranger next to you anyway?

But I chose to ignore him instead. A couple times I opened my eyes to him peering over at me. Kind of like, if you've ever had a dog, and they really want to play, they just kind of wait, quietly but wiggling, hopeful, if you know what I mean. Ugh! Stop! No!

When I got to Chicago I was wandering around trying to find Arrivals, as Kelli had said she'd pick me up on that level. And my seat mate saw me wandering around, face upwards, trying to figure out which signs were which. And pointed me in the right direction.

Which was very nice of him. And I felt unkind, having been so avoidant on the plane. Except that I'd avoid him all over again in the same scenario.

And then on the plane back, I was in an aisle seat, and we left on time, and all was good. My seat mate kept himself well occupied. Neither of us tried to talk to the other.

But every once in a while, I'd think about something funny from the weekend, like the TEETH CLENCH, and catch myself giggling uncontrollably. Hee hee hee hee!

A couple times I laughed loud enough that he glanced over.

And by this point, I know that you just can't do anything about it. You certainly can't start a conversation trying to explain why you are laughing in your head.

I mean really, what would I say? "So, hi! My name's Lisa. And I visited these friends this weekend, and we were out, and, oh, never mind..."

And so I'd put on a straight face as fast as possible and then either close my eyes and try to doze or focus on my magazine. Which worked until the next time a giggle snuck out of nowhere.

I'm certain he thought he was sitting next to a nutjob.


  1. You shoulda talked to him.

    1) How do you know he wasn't your soulmate? I know it's depressing to think that you are fated to be with a fat, pink, over-eager guy for all eternity, but at least he likes travel.

    2) think of the blog fodder! "and then he starts telling me about how good he is at video that a euphemism for onanism? I don't think his forearms got that big from playing Legend of Zelda, if you get my drift."

    3) you could fake flirt with him and when he asks for your number you could say "you don't want to date me because I have Hand-Tourrettes...I slap people uncontrollably and completely randomly" [SLAP]. "See?"

    4) you could talk to him and make up lies about yourself: You are a famous proctologist and you came to chicago to operate on a rich old man's ass. etc.

  2. I think I've sat next to you on a plane before. You laughed for no reason, but you were also about 30, chubby and 5'6. And bald. And a man.

  3. I've only had one good seatmate. He held my hand during turbulence and was wayyy cute :)

    Most of the time, it's the types you describe here. Fun. Vacuums.

  4. One of the great things about being Asian, is pretending that you don't speak English when you want to be left alone.

    Though, sometimes I pretend to be British. Thats a lot of fun.

  5. HIN - Aaaaagghhh! I refuse to believe he's my soul mate! You're just being unkind.

    SL - Yes, definitely was me. And on a tangent, have you ever read Orlando by Virginia Woolf?

    Jess - That's exactly the kind of seat mate I want! And never get!

    ES - HAha! Me, I am too prone to talking to strangers not to get busted at some point in the flight.

  6. when I'm tired, it's far too much energy to try and make nice with strangers, so I would have done the same thing. With maybe more cursing because I was stuck on a plane.

  7. SL - Orlando starts out as a man in Elizabethan England and winds up as a woman. Totally randomly triggered by your comment. It was gender-bending and way ahead of its time. Not a must-read, but I like Virginia Woolf.

    moosie - I am so glad to hear that! I was feeling like I might've been over the top with the f-word.

  8. Next time do this:


    Exclaim, "Dude that so gross!"

    Then ask a stewardess to move you.


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