Friday, June 12, 2009

The Symmetry of Flight

You fly out, you fly back. You fly out, you fly back.
This time out to Los Angeles, I flew out sitting next to someone whose exact identical opposite (sic) I sat next to on my flight back.

I sit in my second row aisle seat next to no one, awaiting takeoff when I hear a male voice running down the At-At tube hall thing to our plane. "I'm runnin' like OJ! I'm runnin' like OJ! Don't take off without me!"

The man saunters in and plops his stuff down right next to me. He smells like patchouli. He's wearing Neo-from-the-Matrix sunglasses and two leather pendants the size of my fist around his neck.

Man: Hey, baby. What's your name?
Me: Anne. What's yours?
Man: I'm King. My name is King.

Of course it is.

I bury my head back in my magazine and ignore him for the next four hours, during which time he proceeds to make friendly with the men sitting in the row ahead of us. They talk about the NBA Finals and decry JetBlue's lack of ABC on the TV. They make friendly with the mousy looking stewardess and ASK HER about the other HOT stewardess.

King: She FOIN, right? Right guys? You know what I'm sayin' Papi (to the Dominican father sitting with his two infant children).

[Word of advice: Even if she looks like she knows she's not smoking hot and is ok with it, don't ask any woman personal questions about another MUCH HOTTER woman, and proclaim as much.]

An hour out of landing, King starts me up again. He is like, black Rain Man the way he repeats himself and goes on.

King: So what do you do? You work? What do you do?
Anne: I'm in publishing.
King: Alright alright. That's nice. I like that... So if I look for you in the papers I'll find you? Is that the only way I'll find you? You can find me in East Oakland. I sell incense and oils. Just ask anyone about King The Incense Guy and they'll tell you all about me. I buy oils and such in New York, and bring them to Oakland, every week. How do I find you... PLANET ASIA. I'm gonna call you Planet Asia.
Anne: ...
King: OK Planet Asia, so how are we gonna see each other again? Am I gonna have to look through New York City for you? Or are you just going to tell me where to find you?
Anne: (smiling weakly) I'll just ask about King the Incense Man when I'm in Oakland.
King: Alright alright. I like that, Planet Asia. I'm gonna find you, Planet Asia.

Incidentally, Aly tells me Planet Asia is a hip-hop artist.

Hmph. Planet Asia. Sounds more like a hippie stripper name to me.

I sit in my tenth row aisle seat next to no one, awaiting take off when a man comes pounding down the plane aisle and plops a huge backpack right next to me, saying "holy shit. That was close."

He's at least 6' 7" and the size of a library bookcase. Looks like he came straight from the Long Beach surf -- tanned, blond, flip-flops, jersey shorts. I feel bad for the guy having to sit in the middle seat, but he seems pretty happy just to have made it. His knees hit the front seat, his arm is touching mine. I lean away, into the aisle.

Right after takeoff he takes out a brown bag lunch and starts eating the first of what will be three sandwiches. He notices I'm listening to the TV with shitty JetBlue headphones and offers his Bose headphones. I kindly refuse, and we start talking.

Man: Hey, are you a lawyer, by any chance?
Me: No. Why?
Man: I got a DUI last night. Spent last night in jail! I need a lawyer.
Me: Yikes. Try the guy on your other side, maybe. He looks like a lawyer.
(We both chuckle)

A stewardess approaches our Exit Rows and asks for vocal confirmation that we can aid in an emergency situation. The man says to the anorexic but cute stewardess:

I'd LOVE to help you with ANYTHING.

She eats it up. If you look up "blushing" in a dictionary, it would show her face. The man and I look at each other and do the eyebrow dance.

Then the cute stewardess returns for beverage service and the man asks for two Jack and cokes, "and something for yourself if you want one." She is LOVING it. After pounding the drinks, he tells me, "if I start snoring, just punch me in the face," and passes out. I pass out too.

We wake up two hours out of landing and the man proceeds to drink TEN MORE little Jack Daniels, insisting on ordering them through the aforementioned stewardess every time. He and I start talking and he says he's freaking out about the DUI because he's on a football scholarship at Columbia University... which explains everything, 'sfar's I'm concerned. Huge, check. White, check. Compulsive drinker, check. I mention I went there too, and thought it was just fine. He goes on about how he went because his family made him. He wanted to go to Santa Barbara.

Of course he did.

His name, is... Tyler.
Of course it is.

Then, he says the most amazing thing:

Columbia is full of Asian people studying all day. It's lame.

I look him dead in the eyes and then turn my head. I ask myself what "cognitive dissonance" means, in case I'm wrong about it.
At one point Tyler pulls out the vomit bag and starts writing on it. Then he asks me to read it over and make sure it doesn't sound like the drunken rambling of a college student.

You face is so beautiful but it works too hard. I want to see you again. I'm in NY for school but in LA the rest of the time. (his phone number) Please call me. P.S. Don't be freaked out by this note.

Tyler: So do you think it's OK?
Anne: I think it's PERFECT.
Tyler: OK, I'm gonna go give it to her.

He pops out of the row to deliver. He returns.

Tyler: I think I freaked her out.
Anne: No way. She totally likes you. Plus it's rad you wrote that on a vomit bag.
Tyler: Fuck. I did? (Pause) Did I tell you I spent last night in jail because I got a DUI?

We've landed. I watch Tyler ask the stewardess about the note and she is positively RED. She says it was really nice of him to give her the note and that it did NOT freak her out. I'm sure if he remembers he did any of this, it could be the beginning of a really sweet relationship.


kw said...

"You face is so beautiful but it works too hard."

I'll have to remember that one. Along with "It's deeper than fate."

Nate said...

this is clearly the best thing i've read all day. if not all week. if not all month.

a few months back i sat next to a very proper buttoned up japanese mother and daughter. the mother sees me reading a japanese book and we make polite if banal conversation for a few hours. the daughter, who is about 20 years old, doesn't speak for the duration of the flight, although she clearly has something she wants to ask me but doesn't know how. right before landing she visually screws up her courage and finally stammers...

"is it true that starbucks sizes are bigger in america?"

ill iterate said...

Dude. I can totally picture the buttoned up mother. I can actually imagine she spent 8 hours thinking of how to ask a complicated question so you couldn't just say "yes" or "no."

What did you say?

ill iterate said...

Deeper than fate...
(rubbing temples) Please don't remind me I'm in a karmic orgy.

natecore said...

i said "yes."

but i don't go to starbucks in the states or in japan, so what do i know?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the gift of Tyler and Planet Asia. You just made my hellish Tuesday that much better.

Reginald Sylvester II said...

Woooow, the type of people you meet on flights these days....sheeesh!!!
Air planes are already too much to deal with as it is and then you have to encounter something like That's a funny story though...

Reginald Sylvester II said...

Ps... Check out my blog

Anonymous said...

no wonder strangers chat you up - you're like, the hottest thing in NYC. I'd give anything for a chance!

ill iterate said...

who ARE you, Anonymous?!
whassa goin on?

Deborah said...

That was the greatest story of an airplane flight EVER! I go with anonymous, but it made my Thursday here...

Michelle said...

It's always deeper than fate with you.

ill iterate said...

Let me tell you what's "deeper" than fate.