I met him sitting in the Honolulu airport yesterday. He was noticeably overdressed for the weather making him look quite odd wearing a suit jacket in 90* weather. Though other than that he seemed to be a normal mainland American. I politely asked if I could sit next to him, seeing as how it was practically the only seat left in the terminal. He replied “it’s a free country isn’t it?” That phrase is the most irritating phrase in all of American vernacular and so, despite his kind smile, I already disliked him. And so, trying hard not to display my irritation, I sat down and leaned as far way him as I could. I hate talking to people I meet at airports.
I have flown enough to recognize where someone is from based on whether, when, how or why they start a conversation. Like Texans seem to think it is rude not to talk to someone when you sit next to them and a lot (though not all) New Yorkers are accustomed to looking straight forward and some actually have the ability to politely avoid eye-contact. Suburban moms are always trying to round-up their kids and always ask if you have kids as if they need to commiserate just to get through the day. There are the college kids who are always on the phone talking to there girlfriends and the liberal arts kids who are reading whatever lefty book is in style, they usually don’t say anything. Then of course there are the men who always try to hit on me. I’m not going to be pointlessly humble and say that I was not a very attractive woman.
I didn’t take the time to try to figure out which one of them his was. It was only after they said the flight was delayed due to bad weather that I knew what sort of man he was; he worst sort of man to sit next to: a yawner. It takes a seasoned traveler to see a yawner. The average person may think they are just yawning because are a little tired or bored. No. These people yawn to start a conversation. They yawn and then say something that you of course a agree with. “Jesus Christ how long we going to be waiting here” which you might “I hear you” and then boom you have inadvertently entered into a conversation without knowing it. They follow up with a “I mean, it’s like, it, it’s going to be a twelve hour flight and now we have to wait another 3 hours. Give me a brake. Now I’ll never X…” What they say after that is the crucial part of the hook.
Is he trying to get into my pants and say something that makes him sound sensitive or something that’s cultured or one that makes him seem rich and successful. Is he merely going to start a conversation out of boredom. Or is he one of those rare creatures who just finds other people interesting. By rare I of course mean I had never met one but assume that they were out there somewhere.
“Where are you headed?” he asks quietly.
“Seattle.” I said curtly.
“Business or pleasure?”
Not that its any of your business but “A little of both, actually I’m in advertising and meeting an important client but my mom lives in Seattle as well. It’s her 50th birthday today and I want to surprise her.” Why and I talking to him? “You see, I’ve been so busy with my new job that it has been almost a year since we last talked.” Still talking? “Me and my mother used to be very close but after my dad died…”
He just sat there patiently, empathically, smiling and laughing and comforting. I talked for three hours and he didn’t say a word. Eventually it was time to board the plane. I switched tickets, from first class, with a little girl flying unaccompanied for the first time just sit next to him for the next 12 hours.
“So what brought you to Hawaii and where are you headed?” I said anxiously knowing it would be thrilling. Why im I so interested in him? He isn’t even cute. Lie. Okay, not that cute.
“Just felt like flying, and this was the longest flight I could afford.” He said shrugging his shoulders and smiling just sort of a grin. Was he serious? Disappointment crept in to my thoughts. I expected something more.
“Odd. I know. But that’s just what I do.” He said
“Fly?” I asked
“No, travel for the sake of traveling.”
“What do you do for money then? Trust fund?” I said, slightly irate.
“No, I’m an artist, and I sold one over priced sketch to an over eager buyer in Hawaii. I sold it to her just to come here. She like the way I painted more that the actual outcome.”
“How’s that?” I asked
“It is a technique learned from a friend. I sketch out a picture then use spray pant, pastels and oil pant to color it in. Through in some music and a little Pollock style abstract around the edges and it is fun to watch. My friend is much much better at it though. Sold the sketch for $50 bucks and she bought some cheap tickets to fly me out here.”
“Over priced at $50 bucks?”
“Yeah, like I said, my friend was much better. We flew down together but he stayed.”
“So, I’m guessing that is not how you make your money then.” In a half question, half surprised statement. Hipster?!?
“I’m not a hipster.”
“I don’t like being poor for the sake of being poor. I did once, but that was long enough ago for me to grow up. I just hate working but I wouldn’t turn down a million dollars. Plus you need an address for most jobs, and that means a rent and a carpet.”
“Yeah, a carpet is an anchor. You only buy a carpet if you plan to stay in one place for a long time. It’s the physical embodiment of a lease.” He remarked, casually looking out the window. “The boring thing is where I’ve been, the exciting thing is where I’m going.”