>When I walked on the plane I noticed the aisle seat (placating my claustrophobia) near the front and everyone seemed to be passing it by, when to me it seemed like prime real estate. I rushed to sit down, after trying to avoid eye contact with as many people as I possibly could, heaved a sigh of relief and welcomed the headrest to stare at in front of me. I’m good at awkward politeness in most situations, sometimes, I’m even chatty, but flying back home makes me anxious and has this sort of crippling effect on my usual cordiality. I sat down and apparently my sigh was really loud, because as I was gathering my thoughts and grinding my teeth into my gum I felt a couple sets of eyes on me. Upon glancing to my left I realized that this seat, was next to two girls in their mid-teens, identical twins. Now, let me say here, that I’m pretty used to the appearance of twins (my best friend has twin children, and I spend a great deal of time around them), and was more shocked that I was even registering them as strange. Like I said before, heading Back Home makes me nervous.
These girls, openly stared at me, and I thought to myself, ‘You two are definitely old enough to know that staring is rude.’ And ‘Where are your parents?’ Immediately after these thoughts, I began to hate myself a little for turning into my father. In addition, I began to notice that they were the epitome of Hipster Chic. Which is, if you know me at all, kind of annoying. They had that straight, a-symmetrical, shoulder length hair thing going on, and were both definitely wearing skinny jeans.
What this is really all about is the following: I was pretty fashion confused in High School, and so, their very well put together outfits actually made me feel a little, well, shamed. I want to say that these two were maybe 16 or so. Their mere appearance and unabashed staring was making me nervous. I adjusted my sweatshirt and hat and prayed for take-off to come soon so I could put on my headphones and sleep. Now, I’m not saying that these girls were rude; I’m just saying that my imagination and High School PTSD was running away with me. As the plane took off I leaned back into my seat and closed my eyes. I’ve never really been afraid to fly, and in fact, find it to be sort of relaxing. My only real neurosis about it is the aisle seat thing.
As the plane rumbled into the damp night air, my muscles began to relax a little and I welcomed the relaxing pressing of my body into the seat. Unfortunately, a nap wasn’t in the cards for me, because the sisters began a long somewhat whispered conversation, the volume of which was too low for me to make out what was being said, but, too high for me to drift off to sleep. In addition, there was some animated sign language across the aisle to their bemused mother. I say bemused because I could see by the gleam in her eye that she, too, had chosen her seat carefully. When the fasten seatbelt light finally de-illuminated, I put on my headphones, hoped that full volume Etta James would drown out the chatter, and drifted into fitful slumber.
It is true, that I am absolutely developing character traits nearly indistinguishable from those of both of my parents. I am equally frightened and comforted by this fact. I know that this happens to everyone, and I’ve moved right along with the cliché for awhile now, but this concentrated (whether spatially or otherwise) incident on the plane made it real easy to see. And on the plane, I was frightened at my easily annoyed and nervous reaction to everything. On this inside I am just a dirty, cranky old man waiting to come out.
After sleeping for what seemed like a very long time, and was probably only a few minutes, I woke to the steward taking drink orders and felt my stomach jump at the word, ‘whiskey.’ Drinking in airplanes was previously one of my great joys. When he got to our aisle, I ordered a diet coke. I’m not sure why, but I always feel as though I have to drink something on the plane, even if I’m not thirsty. I don’t remember what the hipster twins had to drink. This may or may not be, because I was completely distracted by their matching brand new Mac Book laptops (how sweet) which seem to have emerged out of nowhere. It was my turn then, to stare (albeit, discretely) as I paged through the holiday edition of Sky Mall.
I love Sky Mall. For its extreme excess, for its nearly useless product line and pleasingly jumbled, cluttered layout. I love Sky Mall so much, that on nearly every flight I take, I go through it from cover to cover. Sometimes, I imagine what deliciously ridiculous items I would purchase for each person in my life. A massaging, warming executive chair with cup-holders in a ‘gorgeous print’ for my mother, a set of holiday garden gnomes for a buddy of mine to put in his living room, the list goes on. Usually when I’m dreaming about Sky Mall it eats up almost an hour of flight time, and I’m mentally done with any sort of need to shop for the next year or so.
On the plane, having paged through my favorite air time magazine, downed my tiny cup of diet coke, and consciously stopped myself from drumming on the seat back tray table, that if it were any to closer to my belly may have caused a permanent indentation; I settled back and closed my eyes against the duel Mac Book DVD watching (and still chatting!) twins and pressed the ‘recline’ button on my seat and tried for Nap Part Duex.
The nap turned out to be pretty successful, and I woke up to the pilot mumbling something about a final decent (into hell?). I turned off my headphones, popped another piece of gum and pressed the button to put my seat into the upright and locked position. Except, it didn’t move. With my seat stuck in recline, I began to laugh a little, and remember a bit that Ellen Degeneres does about airplane (seats). Something about how, after a crash, when going through the plane rubble/bodies, the folks investigating discover one poor soul who didn’t de-incline their seat. Oh! It’s a shame! Her seat was reclined. She would have survived the crash otherwise. Tsk. Tsk. Cluck. Cluck. Laughing to oneself while crammed with 300 other people in a tin can next to two very observant teenagers was sort of liberating in a way.
You’d better believe that as soon as those doors opened I was out of that plane like an embarrassed and anxious man going to his parent’s house for Christmas.