Do you like to travel by plane? I can never decide if I like it or not, especially now with all of the new travel restrictions. It seems to take forever to get checked in and through security. And then you never know with whom you will sit. Will the people sitting around you be interesting? How about the Flight Attendants?
I am a big guy, tall with long legs, and traveling in small seats is tough. So, and not to sound pretentious, I try and only travel first class so I can stretch out. Goal before I turn 45 is to have my own jet. Shallow maybe. Eco friendly, not. Fun, for sure.
Well on my leg back from Miami I had a small obstacle. The airline had goofed and put me in the front row, the bulk-head row. Problem is, there is not a seat in front under which I can put George in his bag for take-off. You all know the drill, everything has to be stowed under the seat in front of you for take off.
I was heading back to my desert vacation home so there were quite a few older and, seemingly, uptight people in this small first class - only like 5 rows.
The flight attendant told me that sadly the rules demand George be put under the seat otherwise they'd have to put him under the plane. Obviously that was not something I'd do to George.
I was kind of surprised as I received nothing back but sour faces and grunts. I asked, "is that a no?" "Anybody?"
People just avoided eye contact. So I told the flight attendant and she said she'd try. She was very nice and reminded me exactly of Kristin Chenoweth, the actress who is so hysterical.
So as everyone was seated she nicely asked again if anyone would switch. The couple right behind me said "why should we have to move?" "Ask someone else."
I found myself getting angry and wanting to smack the husband for his spoiled, crotchety attitude.
So still no one agreed.
I started getting agitated and said well maybe someone from coach would like to switch.
But, right then, a lovely woman in her late 80's took out her earphones and asked what was going on. She said, " Oh for heaven's sake of course I will switch." Then the lady next to her said, "Oh no I'll switch I'd actually like to sit alone up there."
Lucy was so full of life and so kind. She started speaking loudly saying why are people so uptight. Life is short why do people take things so seriously. Why can't people help each other more . I started to really like this woman. Lucy had that vibrant, Lucille Ball, red hair and at 86 years was now a desert snow bird. She was heading back to her golf club home for the season. We started to learn a lot about each other and we dove right into religion. As an Irish, 86 year old, I was certain she'd likely be catholic. But I learned fast she thought all that was a "bunch of baloney. "
I thought, "wow, I'm really liking this woman now!"
Then we jumped right into the bible and she said she thought it was just one big fairy tale, which as you know is exactly what I believe. At this point we are on our 3rd glass of white wine. Lucy kept joking this is only the first glass we have had right? At the 5th glass I was still agreeing it was only our first.
We'd do a toast and laugh and I said, "I'm glad I had made a new friend." She said. " Oh I hope so" and invited me to Monday night football at her community golf community. " We all love to party," Lucy exclaimed. I also learned she had fought to have a 9 hole putting green built in her community because 18 holes were getting harder at her age. I said, "damn, glad to see you fight for what you want."
She told me she had been married twice and that both husbands are now deceased. All her siblings had passed and she was the only family member left except for some cousins. She smiled as she said that her last husband was her true love. She said he owned a plant and had patented 25 famous tools which are sold at Home Depot and the like. She winked and said selling the pattens was very profitable. We toasted again with another glass of wine
The flight attendant seemed to become more and more fun as the time went on, with the three of us laughing hysterically as she filled our glasses.
But at that point we were all becoming distracted by a very odd looking man. He had one of those neck pillows around his head and he left it on around his head as he got up and walked down the aisle to the bathroom. What made it really strange was that he had now gone to the bathroom what seemed like a dozen times, so we were all slightly concerned. Also, our great flight attendant was concerned because she said the woman who was sitting next to the odd looking man had told the flight attendant that the man was showing off his finger nail clippers which had a sharp knife in it. These days, that is cause for concern for anybody.
The flight attendant asked me to help keep an eye on him. So one time he got up to go to the bathroom and I got up and stood behind him and said "excuse me may I use the bathroom?" He seemed drunk and chatting up the flight attendants at the front. After I went to the restroom, he was waiting to go into the restroom again. When the odd looking man finished and came out, he whispered to the flight attendant that I should sit down when I go to the bathroom because "I had peed everywhere." He then told the flight attendants that he was a pharmacist and he'd prescribe me Flomax.
Our new friend, the flight attendant, came over to tell the nice red-head and me what pillow man had said and that she was nearly wetting her pants with laughter. Soon the rumor had flooded all of first class. Everyone thought he was insane, Funny thing was I had only gone in the bathroom to blow my nose. We later realized since he had been so many times that he must have had a real bladder problem and he must have really lost control the last time in.
Anyway this brought up the topic of terrorists with my new friend. We both agreed that the guy with the neck pillows was just off a little and not really a threat.
We laughed some more.
So then I don't remember if Lucy or I brought up President Obama. She said "well you know I am a conservative." I was somewhat surprised, given our conversation of religion as well as her having spoken of gay rights, saying "who cares - people are born the way they are." When I asked she said that she was socially liberal but conservative in all other ways. To which I replied, "well I can respect that." She reminded me again of coming to Monday night football, telling me that they start drinking early but that they go to bed at half time so the night would be over by 4pm. Laughing, I said I couldn't wait, as I have always had an affinity for older people.
That is when she said," that terrorist, Muslim, sneaky, Obama would never get her vote." I laughed assuming she was kidding. Lucy said, "oh no, I'm very serious." I told her I was a big fan and think he is fantastic.
Wanting to learn more, I asked why she thought Obama was a Muslim. She said," that not only did she think he is a Muslim but also that she thinks he is not a US citizen." Laughing she said "you watch." "It is all part of a terrorist plot."
Since we had become friends I didn't want to be overly antagonistic with my new friend and simply said, "I disagree with you on this one." Not to be deterred, she then told me "why his birth certificate is hidden and that the one everyone has seen is a fake." She also told me "that his college records are locked because he was actually an exchange student from another country - a Muslim country." I had never heard the story about the college records (which I am fairly certain is simply not true in any respect) and wasn't certain to laugh or cry at the outlandish accusations (but I guess lots of people today believe that shit).
With all the conspiracy theories Lucy was talking about it was beginning to feel like an LSD trip (or at least what people say they are like). Did someone slip something in my drink? Pillow-man was a pharmacist.
I did tell Lucy I was surprised she was so caught up in the Muslim thing with Obama given that she had expressed her views that religion was stupid. She said that yes religion is a "bunch of crap" but she thought the Muslims "stoop a bit lower than the Christians" and that Muslims have wars over their religions. I said so do the Christians - consider the crusades, but she just thought that the Christians had grown up since then. I said what about all the new right-wing, ultra-conservatives out there today - Palin, O'Donnell, Miller, Angle, etc?
That is when Lucy's humor came streaming back through. "I would never vote for those dumb asses" she said, also adding that she would not vote for Hillary either. And despite what I thought were some crazy ideas, I really liked her. I considered that I might blow off the Monday night football, but decided instead that it would be a great opportunity to try to learn from one another.
Lucy and I agreed that our differences over these issues would not get in the way of our budding friendship and we would not bring it up on football night. But we did agree we'd each look into the issues more and bring our research to the table for our second meeting.
And in out last laugh I said lets punk your friends and say I'm your new boyfriend. And showing that wonderful spirit she said that she would love that, but ... just please shave. She said I don't like facial hair or tattoos.
So you just never know when you fly what might happen and who you might meet. But I did learn a great lesson about just enjoying people's company and not worrying over every detail. We all have so much more in common than we do differences.