Tuesday, July 26, 2011

one more New York story

I'm trying to decide the best way to tell this story. It needs to accurately convey my emotional states through every point: exposition, rising action, climax, denoument, the whole enchilada*. So here goes.

(*side note: don't ever use the phrase "the whole enchilada" in an essay on an exam about Skinner's learning principles, or your professor will leave the comment "...no" next to it and [along with the receipt of a crappy grade in the first place] reduce you to a shapeless mess of low self-esteem noodles in tepid weak sauce)

The last advice Mallory gave to me before heading to New York for the first time ever was
"Make sure you get a window seat on the left side. You'll get to see Manhattan from the plane as you fly in!"
So when I checked into the airport and picked my seat at the ticket printer, of course I got the last left-side window seat. 30A. Success.  Boy, I thought, what a super lucky day for me.

As I boarded the plane, I realized I was not so lucky after all.  For some reason, this was the stupidest plane ever and there was a big ole jet engine obscuring my view.

I took my window seat and began to read my book.  The man in the seat next to me (the aisle seat - this plane had a [][]  [][][] set up) sat down as he was chatting to his friend. They were play-arguing about how many apps he had on his iPhone.
"I've got everything I need. Why would I put anything else on here? ...yeah I know, that does sound cool. But I don't need anything fancy! I've got what I need, I'm happy, leave me alone!  hahaha"   
Hmmm, I thought, that is the most sensible iPhone user I've ever eavesdropped on. A few minutes later, he broke the silence between us, the pointed silence created between two people on public transportation (and that's all a plane is, really. Public transit. Just like taking the bus!), to say
Plane guy: Don't let me hog the arm rest. I'm always hogging this thing.  (friendly smile)
Me: Oh, no, I'm fine. Thanks though.
      (inner monologue): Shit. Now when he does hog the arm rest I'm not allowed to get upset about it. ...Wow, I am pretty crammed up against this window. I look like I'm trying as hard as I can to be as far away from him as possible. And he's just trying to be nice. (I try to loosen up my body and unroll from the ball I have hunched myself into.)
 Then, a few minutes later:
Plane guy: So, whatcha readin'?
Me: (tilts book to show cover) It's one of the Game of Thrones books. It's the second one. It's pretty good. But I don't usually read fantasy so... I dunno. I like it, I guess. (inner monologue): Why am I talking so much?? I'm one of those annoying plane people. No. Wait a minute. Why is this middle-aged man interrupting my precious book reading time by asking stupid questions?  ...He must be one of those nervous fliers who talks to people to pass the time and distract him from worrying about his impending fiery death.
So, in an act of kindness from the "hey, this guy could be Jesus" school of thought that I learned from my mother, I indulged his chatting.  We talked about what I was studying in school (a lot to say) and the city of Atlanta (less to say) and local sports teams (even less to say).  He asked my advice about schools and SAT scores because it turns out his "friend" sitting in the aisle next to us was actually his sixteen year old son.

Eventually, I realized our conversation was none too interesting, and I began to check the time more and more frequently. But I kept smiling, because I had no way of escaping the conversation (I couldn't think of a cleverer way to say "Can you please stop talking now, I'd like to read at least two pages of my book before we land, thanks.") But as I've learned before, my please-let-this-conversation-be-over-soon smile is virtually indistinguishable from my you're-my-favorite-person-ever smile, at least to people who don't know me.

As the plane began to lose altitude, I finally got my first view of the city.
taken by snaking my camera-arm around the sleeping woman in front of me
Then the man next to me turns to me to shake my hand.
Plane Guy: I just realized this whole time we've been talking and I don't even know your name.
Me: Sorry! I'm Claire.  (no last names. my momma didn't raise no fool)
Plane Guy: Claire? Claire. nice name. I'm *****.   ...hey listen, Claire. I was wondering, I'd like to have your number. 
UM WHAT. wait, wait, wait. Maybe this man is just trying to be nice. He knows I have never been to New York before, and he probably wants to exchange numbers in case I get lost or need help. Or maybe to give to his son? Claire, you never should have told him you've never been to New York before. He'll probably murder you. Don't give him your number. WAIT, unless if you don't give it to him you make him angry, leading him to murder you. Walking on a razor's edge... 
Me: Um...O...K.... it's ***-***-**** (give him a fake area code. genius. that way, there's no hesitation when I roll off the numbers, so he won't get wise and murder me on the plane.)
Plane Guy: "yeah, I was thinking we could grab lunch sometime at Atlantic Station...
...maybe grab a glass of wine...
...you are old enough to drink, right?"
CREEPY DUDE, you KNOW I am in college. Also, your 16 year old son is watching you try to make lunch plans with a 20 year old girl from the plane. I WILL NOT BE HIS NEW MOM.

At this point,  I am refusing to move my head at all. I am staring straight ahead, towards the front of the plane where the stewardesses are ushering people off the plane. Away from other creepy passengers. To safety.

Me: Um, no, my birthday is in a month.
Plane Guy: (playfully) Well you do eat, don't you?
Me: Um... (the blood has drained from my face) yeah (I am petrified by uncomfortableness and fear of upsetting a potential murderer)

Plane Guy stands up and begins to get his belongings from the overhead bins. (Thank you, Jesus)  He has stopped talking to me and I am using the silence as an opportunity to plan my escape route. Then he looks over at me, and adds as an afterthought:
Plane Guy: Hey Claire, ...you tall?
How the hell am I supposed to answer that? I believe I replied something to the effect of

Me: uh, kinda, but not as tall as my DAD or my THREE BROTHERS. They're tall. And pretty muscly. Quick to anger too. And as protective as mother geese. So, I dunno. Does that answer your question?
I then waited for everyone else to exit the plane, hoping that this man would get far far ahead of me.  Then, just for good measure, I hid in the women's bathroom for about 20 minutes.

Welcome to New York City, Claire!


  1. And don't forget your overly protective, wimp fighting Aunt Buddy who may be short but she's fierce. Won't be the last time you get hit on sweetie remember.......you tall ; )

    I burst out laughing at that line. I gotta stop reading your blog at work.

  3. Hahahaha, you are the best. Can't blame the guy. You are pretty tall, after all. Men on planes love that--it's an evolutionary thing. They recognize the need to get things out of overhead compartments and respond to women who seem to meet that need.