FURTHERMORE AND THE LADY FROM EL PASO
Brother Furthermore just hates to fly. I know. I thought that was a bit weird for a bird, too. Still, there it is.
Actually, he enjoys flying when he’s in control and he’s quite good at it. He can do a triple loupe that is really impressive. He hates it, however, when he has to fly coach for long distances. In this, we are much alike. Anyway, we did this recently and found it to be nearly as much fun as our latest root canal.
There is something surreal about long distance airplane flights. Not the little short hops but those that last several hours. Like to Australia and such. When the bird and I had reached our destination—another story for a later moment—we discussed this. What it is, we wonder, about long flights that makes total strangers share the most intimate details of their lives with you? I’m talking about stuff here that you wouldn’t tell your spouse or your confessor or your Worshipful Master. Not now, not ever. I mean, there must be something in the pressurized cabin air or something that generates this overwhelming need on the part of numerous individuals to spill their guts. Not everyone succumbs. I do not. I go to great lengths not to talk on airplanes.
I usually carry a book. Something large and heavy and very academic looking. Cheap paperback fiction tends to generate conversation. “I see you’re reading Stephen King’s latest. Loved it myself! The doctor killed the guy on the last page. Oh! Did I spoil it for you?”
See what I mean? Don’t carry paperbacks. Carry something that no one in living memory has read. So, take a big book. Usually this works. On this most recent trip, it did not.
A friend has suggested another idea, and I like it a lot. She carries, in addition to a big book, a set of headphones. She doesn’t plug them into anything, mind you. She just puts them on and tucks the loose end of the wire into a pocket or something. I find this to be an inspired idea and plan to get my own headphones at the earliest opportunity.
However, this is after the fact. On this most recent venture into the friendly skies—both coming and going—Furthermore and I were entertained in punishing detail by the life stories of two women. That is not a sexist remark. I’ve been similarly entertained by men on occasion, as well. Usually they sell insurance. I forgive them. They can’t help themselves. It’s genetic. On this most recently fight, it just happened to work out that the women were on call.
The first—on the trip outbound from Phoenix—was a lady from El Paso. She is the administrative assistant to a research doctor of some sort. At least, that’s what she was when we left Phoenix. By the time we were approaching our destination—hours later—she had become his associate researcher and source of romantic inspiration. See? This is still a land of opportunity. I was impressed and congratulated her on her rapid advancement. Furthermore just made an offensive noise.
All was not entirely well, however. She had an unhappy marriage, children who did not appreciate her wisdom, jealous colleagues, an inoperable disease (probably terminal) and a neighbor with a dog that barks all night. There is also this younger guy who has been hitting on her. And El Paso! The pits! Can we talk? What a dump!
It got worse. And on the trip home, the woman’s twin sister—except she was from Scottsdale—picked up where El Paso left off. So I got the whole routine again, except with a six-figure income attitude.
There really is something about airplane travel. Although I did notice that it doesn’t happen to Furthermore. I asked him about this. He just shrugged. “Who wants to admit they can see a bird strapped into seat 31C with a martini and headphones and reading the complete works of Shakespeare?”
I’ll have to think about that for a while.