Thursday, November 06, 2008

My Yankee Husband’s Bad Influence Has Made Me Suspicious Of Everyone

While I was sitting in the Atlanta airport finishing my last post and trying to forget that in another 45 minutes I’d be on yet another plane, I noticed a woman watching me. She was a little older than I am and she seemed to be alone. And she stared at me and her book for equal amounts of time during the 30 minutes that I typed. I had my back firmly against a wall and kept her in my peripheral sights as I did my thing. I’m not usually a paranoid person, but in large airports and strange cities I tend to be more aware. And when my dearest-darling-life-giving laptop is in my clutches, I’m like a mother with a premature baby in the middle of a crowd: convinced that every molecule approaching is the one that will bring an infection and yank the precious baby away. Where do I get my metaphors? Anyway, I kept her in my sights. She had a book, but she was only looking at it half the time. She stood up and walked in front of me once, and I waited to see where she would settle in a new seat so that I could discreetly get up a few minutes later and move in the opposite direction. Instead she walked away and then walked back. And sat down and kept glancing at me every few minutes. I started to tell myself that I was being paranoid – she’d never met my eyes as I glanced at her; maybe she was looking at someone else? Maybe there was a spider on the wall behind me, and she was waiting in case she needed to save my life? Maybe she was figment of my freaking-out imagination? I packed up my laptop and got in line to board the plane, and guess what? You’ll never guess. I wound up sitting behind the woman on the plane. I did meet her eyes as I passed her seat and she smiled at me, lowered her eyes and blushed. AHA! It could only mean one of two things: She had picked me out to commit some horrible act of violence upon or….she’s in love with me. Since it wouldn’t be the first time a woman has hit on me, and since I tend to go with the happier of two solutions, I silently voted for the love-factor. When she turned around in her seat to speak to me, I was still debating which was right. “You do not remember me, I don’t think?” An accent. She definitely had a French accent. The only person I “know” that is French is definitely male – and married to one of my best friends. IF he’d had a sex change operation, I would’ve heard about it. So, no, lovely yet strange French lady. I don’t know you. And now I’m chatting with a total stranger in a plane. Damn it, I have become my sister. “I think you were in France a few years ago?” she volunteered. Um. I was? Oh yeah! I was in Paris two and a half years ago. But…again, the only person I knew while I was in Paris is back in the Deep South, still male, and very still speaking sans accent. And I’m still chatting with her. Damn it, I don’t need another person to make cookies for. “You helped me. In the airport. My baby was sick on my blouse, and you picked up his toy and washed it for him? You remember?” Well, Holy Vomit Batman. Yes I do. She was walking into the bathroom in front of me in THE WORST AIRPORT EVER – Charles de Gaulle – and her very small baby chose that moment to lose his cookies all over her. She dropped his toy on the floor, and I picked it up and washed it for her and handed it to him on the changing table while she changed her shirt in the middle of the bathroom. We barely exchanged a word. I assume that I finished what I had gone into the bathroom to do – it was probably to remind myself that I still loved my husband, because I DO remember that we had a huge fight in the middle of Charles de Gaulle. So I ended up chatting with her for a few minutes (I did not ask for her address to send her a Christmas card – I may have become my sister, but I have not become my godmother. Yet.). I have no French beyond vous lez vous coche a vec moi, and I speak English entirely too fast, but she DOES speak English quite well. And right before she turned around to put her seatbelt on, I asked how in the world she recognized me – because I had looked her straight in the eyes and not known her at all. She smiled and said something to the effect that if I had had a small baby, and a total stranger helped me, I would remember too. “Also,” she smiled. “The eyes. You have very beautiful blue eyes and all that red hair. It’s a shame we are both married to men, no?” Well. I don’t know that it’s a shame – but I welcome compliments on my eyes from all comers. Moral of the story: Baby vomit creates international relationships.

1 comment:

Neurotic Grad Student said...

Oh, my. Isn't it amazing how small kindnesses mean so much to people? That's a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing!!