Aside from the access to booze and the sweet buzz of superiority, the real reason I like to be all up in the air with strangers is that I get to make up a back story and be someone else entirely for the whole trip. What do I care…I will never see these tools again?
So last night, as I was the 4th person who boarded the plane, I see a woman, comfortable, buckled-in sitting in the same row as me. I love me the window seat (getting up for weak bladders and being hit by every ass who wanders by with bags…no thank you) and I politely tell the woman that I am sitting at the window and we have a conversation that goes a lil’ something like this:
-Hey I am sitting next to you.
-Do you need to get up so I can get in?
-No, you can just crawl over me.
-I hope you don’t mind by butt in your face.
And from that, it was on. After crawling over her in the most dramatic and obscene fashion, I thought about what my back story would be.
I invented a husband (as always) and explained that I do not wear a wedding ring because my fingers swell when flying. I then composited my husband based on all the men I know, but since I needed by husband to not be gay, I tried something else. My husband, Topher, is a production/set designer in NYC but is working on location in Vermont and could not be with me for this vacation.
At the mention of my husband, the woman decided she would tell me about her family — her two artsy children and then, about her own husband. Who was dead. She told me all about how he was a great bread-winner and the love of her life, and one day while working out with his personal trainer his heart exploded, and he died instantly. He had just started taking the drug Vioxx (Google “heart” and “Vioxx” together — you will get this). She then told me that I need to quit whatever I am doing and go…run to my husband and spend every minute I can with him because you never know when he could be taken away.
Some weeping happened (mostly me), some compassion happened (mostly her), and the crushing guilt of being a bitchy liar consumed me. I did not tell her the truth (we still had 5 hours together) but I listened intently for the ding that told me I could put my earphones back in and think about how I had shamed myself.
She continued to talk to me about how her children rely on her so much now because they were both in college when her husband died. She was in the middle of discussing how her husband could never give her daughter away at her wedding when…
Earphones. I was so nervous and awkward that I dropped them, then worked on untangling them for what seemed like 12 minutes. I thought to myself what excuse I could give, so for once I went with the truth. I told her I was working on a website and podcast and needed to get these soundbites edited for the midnight deadline.
And thus ended my conversation with the emotionally devastating woman who cold-cut right through my lies. When we landed, we wished each other a good night and a safe ride, and I prayed to sweet zombie baby jesus that I would never see her again.