Monday, October 03, 2005

I was thinking about one of the many times my sister and I traveled to visit our parents for the holidays. It might have been Thanksgiving or Passover… but hey, since Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown tonight, let’s just say it was to celebrate the Jewish New Year with the ‘rents that was the impetus for this memory.

You know that question?: If you could be seated next to anyone on a plane, famous or not, living or dead, who would you choose? And people pick someone like Einstein or Gandhi or Angelina Jolie… My answer is always, “Can’t there just be an empty seat?”

I don’t wanna talk to anyone on the flight. My sister is the same way. Julie typically takes the aisle to stretch out and I curl up against the window, with hopefully a vacant seat between us. We each bring a book, but often pick up something light at the airport. I like to occupy my mind with one of those crossword puzzle collections while scoffing at my supposedly sophisticated sister’s inane Us Weekly. And then halfway through the flight, when she’s done, I’ll borrow it, ‘cause, y’know… I’m just bored… not that I’m anxious to know who Kirsten Dunst is spotted dating this week or anything.

This one time we thought the plane would be empty, so with the flight’s open seating policy, we chose the little alcove area near the front -- the section with three seats facing another three seats. We could each put our feet up and enjoy all the room…

But, sure enough, a group of passengers came to fill the space to capacity. Buncha business people who seemed to have seen that “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” commercial too many times. Trying hard to force some kind of woo-hoo! we so crazy! attitude, ordering overpriced cocktails and making more noise than the DC-9’s engine.

Completely counteracting curmudgeonly me. I buried myself in my book, but it didn’t help. The woman seated next to me tried to strike up a conversation. “Hi, I’m Amber. What’s your name? Whatcha reading? Are you writing something? Oh, a crossword puzzle! You need help? C’mon, I’m good at those. Gimme one. Okay, what? A five-letter word for a sticky resin or pesky passenger… starts with A… “Annoy”… No, that’s not a resin. Hey guys! Help us out here! We need a five-letter word for…”

Amber and her posse were yattering the whole flight. My sister and I definitely made the wrong seating choice. I looked to Julie to offer a regretful look, but she was passed out, perhaps tripping on dramamine. Did she even take it this time? She must have -- how could she sleep with all that noise? Lucky stiff. Amber asked who my traveling companion was, and not thinking fast enough, I told the truth. Amber seemed relieved. “Oh, she’s your sister? Ohhh…”

Then I was kinda glad Julie was asleep, ‘cause Amber fired up the flirtiness. Every time I made some brush-off remark, she’d crack up. “Oh, you are adorable!” She handed me her business card. “I want you to call me when you’re in LA. Not for a date -- if you don’t want -- no pressure -- just to, y’know, hang out. Or hey, you can call me while we’re in Vegas. That would be so fun. ‘Cause you are just adorable. Guys, isn’t he adorable?”

I’m hardly bragging. I appreciated the compliment, but man, that was just embarrassing. Thank goodness my sister was out cold and didn’t witness this. Though I was starting to resent her unconsciousness. If she were awake, we could talk amongst ourselves, discuss inside family stuff and cut these crazy cavorters out of the conversation.

“How was the flight?” my parents asked when we got to their house later. Julie said fine, and I mumbled in agreement. They wondered why I looked a little tired whereas my sister seemed well-rested. I insisted I was okay but they thought maybe I was working too hard, exercising too much, not eating enough, bubbalah…

Julie came to my rescue. “Mikey’s fine,” she said. And then with an evil grin, she added, “In fact, isn’t he just adorable?”


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