Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back from Brooklyn, Part 1

Oh, the suspense! The uncertainty! The nervous fears!

Am I talking about the 2010 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament?

Well, yes, I suppose I am – a little bit, at least – come to think of it.

But I’m mainly referring to the harrowing fear that I wouldn’t be physically able to get through it.

Scene one:

I’m on the plane to Brooklyn, looking out the window. The seat between me and the guy on the aisle is empty -- but not for long.

A woman whose assigned seat is somewhere else on the plane plops down between us and buckles the seat belt. She’s a colleague of the guy on the aisle seat and hates sitting alone.

Apparently she hates sitting alone because she also hates not talking, and she’s such a flannel mouth that during the flight, representatives of several pajama manufacturers drop by and place bids on the rights to her upper palate.

But this is OK with me. I often like to listen to people’s unguarded public conversations. (Especially if they’re talking on cell phones. One of Murphy’s Rules of Nature: the loudness of a cell phone conversation held on a public conveyance is directly proportional to the privacy – not to mention indictability – of the matter being discussed, and inversely proportional to the percentage of space in the caller’s brain that is not occupied by seaweed.)

But to give these two other passengers some privacy, I make sure to keep my head turned to the window.

Near the end of the trip, she talks about how her boy needed a sitter and that one problem she faced was that the boy has had some kind of intestinal flu, and she didn’t want the kid’s regular sitter to catch it.

I now make doubly, tripley, quadrupely sure that my head is facing the window for most of the rest of the flight….

Scene two:

It’s Saturday night, and I’m on one of the hotel's elevators, headed toward the lobby.

There are two other passengers, including a man and a woman who appear to be a couple.

The dialogue goes something like this:

She: “Have you thrown up?”

He shakes his head, not happily.

She: “You might be better off if you did.”

I keep my eyes straight ahead and thank the gods and the ghost of J. Willard Marriott that the lobby is only one floor away.

More to come.

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