Saturday, March 15, 2008

Making Friends On Airplanes

I've been flying my entire life. Mom was a flight attendant then a manager for all the ladies headed in and out of DC (God help her if I can find her 1968 Eastern Airlines photo). Dad was on the corporate side of Eastern then Northwest and both parents were avid travelers before they'd met each other, let alone met me. In fact, it was their jobs within the industry that allowed us to fly so often. Passes.

Passes meant wear church clothes on the airplane and put your wings pin on. Passes meant a few hours in the airport because standby was the only constant. Passes meant a million little games to keep two kids busy and chipper. Name the states. Name the capitals. Write a story about the nice gate agent. How many ice cream flavors can you list. Make a list of ten things you're excited about for this trip.

And many times, passes meant no seats together to get all four family members on the flight. At 6 and 7, Brother and I were perfectly at home and occasionally arguing to sit in the solo seat. Our mother always has and continues to make friends in line at the grocery store, on the beach, picking up pizza etc. so we considered it normal to talk to total strangers in controlled environments. Both of us precocious and curious. Truth be told if tomorrow I was seated next to an 8 year old on the airplane like either of us, I know the flight would go quickly. We talked to professors, grandmothers, athletes, authors and average joes. These are among the more defining memories of being younger and going on vacation.

This is why it should come as no surprise that I continue to make friends on airplanes. And in line at the grocery store, on the beach, picking up pizza, etc. I just had never made a cute male friend on an airplane before yesterday.

The short version (now that I'm already looking verbose), is that after a full day at the office, a quick stop to feed the HC and pick up the train, I was on my way to the airport. 30-40 minutes in train delays later, I was late. Very late. So late that they wouldn't let me check my monstrous long weekend bag. In my defense, it was full of things like chocolate and hair product to be distributed throughout the weekend but it was incapable of being carried on.

Shit. One other flight that night but it was booked solid and didn't get in till 1am.The ticket woman volunteered that she could send my bag through on the second flight if I wanted to sprint to claim my seat on this one. I thanked her and just started running. No, not cute, hustled power-walking. RUNNING.

I was the last person on the plane before they closed the doors. The full plane. The poor guy booked for the middle seat had already moved into my window when I sat down. As as I slowed my sprint, I had sweat coming down my face and my hair was wet underneath. I had tried to look alive for the weekend with self-tanner so I suspect that the sweat had also given way to little rivers of white space on my cheeks. Attractive. I scooted in apologetically and tried to adjust the air vent without lifting my arms to reveal the unseen but acknowledged sweat.

About 5 minutes later as we began to taxi, the row behind us was engaged in a lively conversation as a Boston guy was telling to Chicago tourists en route to his hometown about the various tourist stops. All the while pitching himself to these girls as a guide/ all-star human being. I was laughing. Me, with the dry salt on my face and damp hair. I looked over at the guy next to me and he also was silently shaking with laughter at this guys shameless attempts to pick up one or both of his seatmates.

We started chatting. He'd just finished a final interview for a job that he was looking good for. As a Boston native, he was ready for a change and was thinking Chicago (who could blame him?). Just small talk and I was relatively dried out by the time we were airborne and both pulling out laptops. I had some work to go through. He had "Good Will Hunting" on DVD. When he noticed me lurking over his shoulder, mouthing full chunks of the dialogue, he pulled out an ear phone so I could hear it for myself as I rapped away at my own keyboard about cellular genomics' role in new skincare tech. Great taste in movies, a gentlemanly approach to sharing and the ability to seamlessly use "wicked" as an adjective? How do you like them apples?!

As Matt Damon left to "see about a girl" and Elliot Smith rolled with the credits, I was over trying to get any outlining done and we resumed our chatter. Me giving him the hard sell on Chicago mostly. We exchanged business cards in order to grab a drink if he took the job. It didn't occur to me now that we were just as obvious as the guy we were so amused by initially. End justify the means? I can say that this would certainly be an interesting cure for my chronic condition- trick myself into going for a Boston guy who was moving to Chicago anyway...

Anyhow, he asked about my weekend and where I was headed. I knew I was going to Susie's and he said that was right near him and would I want to share a cab? Yes, that'd be lovely.
We wait on his bag, he holds the door for the taxi and we talked all through the tunnel, over the bridge and through Coolidge Corner. It was easy. We made plans to BS friends on how long we had known each other with the crazy amount of random information we were accumulating about birthdays and travels etc. He dropped me off and wouldn't hear of a contribution to the ride. I was grinning widely as I walked in the door to Susie's, ready to start another very fun chapter of the weekend.

With no baggage in sight;)


Nilsa S. said...

I love this story. Hope he takes that job in Chicago!

~Angela~ said...

That was delightful. Thanks for sharing.

Susie said...

Yay! I really hope he moves to Chicago. Or actually, I hope he doesn't and you have to move here instead. That would make many, many people happy!

I always thought it was crazy that airline families have to dress up to fly.

Excited to hear if your flight back to Chi has you meeting someone else :)

Maxie said...

That's awesome...I never have that kind of luck!

Anonymous said...

Oh so awesome! Now, if he does get that job and a date comes from all this, what an interesting story to tell people on how you met :) *crossing fingers*

ToKissTheCook said...

Nilsa: Me too:)

Angela: Thanks for reading it!!

Sues: An extended version of the following is coming but, you pretty much rock. No big surprise there. And your couch is the seventh trap of sleep.

Maxie: If I can sweat trails of self tanner, mascara and hair product and still watch Good Will Hunting with a cute guy, I'm confident anyone can.

CurlySue: As a girl (and a blogger!), are we not always considering the story? It's a good one and I'm hoping it only gets better from here!

Joy @ Big Time Fancy said...

That, ma'am, is a SOLID story right there. May his pretty Boston-ness come back and present you with MORE story opportunities. :)

L Sass said...

Ooh, I hope you see him again!

I totally have married friends who met on a plane...

ToKissTheCook said...

Joy: He had such a pretty mouth. Pretty when he said things like "wicked" and "Fenway." Le sigh.

L Sass: That's the spirit! That's the kind of story I want to tell my babies! "Daddy saw through the sweat and streaky self-tanner and didn't get offended when Mommy audibly moaned at the sight of shirtless Matt Damon."

This could be good:)

Christy Lou Who said...

ahhh I love it I love it I love it. From one long-distance serial dater to another, it would be a nice end to the streak :)