When it comes to sitting next to interesting people on airplanes (read: women), I’ve always had pretty good luck. I had one of the great conversations of my life a few years ago with a fascinating older woman on a flight to Las Vegas. She was married to a semi-famous actor who was on one of those doctor shows in the mid-sixties — while I don’t remember what it was called, we spent the entire flight talking about how her husband had cheated on her and how my ex-wife had cheated on me.
And speaking of luck and interesting people, today’s another perfect example. The woman sitting in the window seat looks to be a few years younger than I and is extremely cute. But that’s not the thing. The thing is that I saw her even before we boarded. We were both hanging out near the gate at one of those counters where you can plug in your phone or computer, and I kept glancing her way because she looked so damn familiar.
And the thought that keeps running through my head is something that my friend Laura, who believes in all of that woo-woo, spiritual mumbo-jumbo crap, told me about noticing the little things around you, and how the smallest detail can be significant, and how that’s the way the stupid universe works. And here I am thinking — the motherfucking universe, you sly dog, you!
Hold on a second. I’m gonna talk to her.
“I can’t believe there’s no one in the middle seat,” I say. “That never happens anymore.”
“I know, right?” she says. “Remember in the old days when you’d take the red-eye and you could just lay out across all three seats?”
That was just her!
We’re about to take off. How come no matter what time of day or night you’re flying, something like a roofie kicks in and you just pass out and begin to drool like a zombie baby? I’ve always been the world’s worst sleeper, but it’s lights out for me on every trip.
And look! It’s the same for her! Which is my cue to wake the hell up and check her out a little bit more. (And how pervy did that just sound?) The first thing I noticed was the ring on her left hand. On her middle finger. Hmm, what’s the universe trying to tell me here?
She’s very much my type: tall and thin; long, dark hair; pretty in a natural way. She could be Mary-Louise Parker’s Jewish sister. I was watching her eat potato chips before and she was crunching so loudly and, of course, I registered that as flirting.
Wait! I’m gonna talk to her again.
No, no, wait! I have a better idea. I’m writing this on my iPad and I’m just gonna hand it to her to read.*
Here goes nothing.
*Update: Her name was Sara, a fifth-grade teacher from Bed-Stuy, who was on her way to visit her “one true love” for a long weekend. Further full disclosure: I wrote this a few years ago, before I met mine.