Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Character Encounters

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I love traveling. You meet and see all kinds of crazy people. Last weekend I was traveling to a conference and met several such characters. I think I will dedicate the next few posts to introducing you to them.

I think we will begin with my friend from my 3 hour flight. We'll call him "the Fonz." He sat next to me in the window seat. He was around 60 years old, but he still had dark curly hair and a dark mustache. He had on gold rimmed glasses, a gold watch and a gold chain necklace, as well as a muscle shirt covered by a Hawaiian print shirt and a brown suede jacket.

Like most of the people on the flight - except for me, of course - Fonz was returning home from a week long cruise. But not just any cruise, he went on a Rockin' 50's Cruise. Apparently they only play music from the 50's and you just dance your life away. The Fonz loved it, except he now had a song stuck in his head and he couldn't get it out. I know this not only because he told me, but also because he sang it for a good part of our time together and it was then stuck in my head. "There she was just a walkin' down the street, singing do a diddy diddy dum diddy do..."

Now, in order for you to fully understand my interactions with the Fonz, you must first know that I had gotten about 4 hours of sleep the last night of the conference and I was not in my usual conversing mood. So, I plopped down in the chair next to the Fonz and he looks at me and says, "I'm sorry if I snore, I'm so tired and I plan on sleeping the whole flight. I'm exhausted and slightly hungover. Oh and I have to keep these shades closed because I'm extremely photosensitive." Fine by me. I had headphones and planned on zoning out as soon as the plane took off. I was, however, a little confused as to how his photo sensitivity affected his time on the CRUISE SHIP, but whatever....

The wheels leave the runway and I reach for my headphones so I can watch a movie on my personal little screen built into the seat in front of me - side note: Continental Airlines is my new favorite. They have actual food and On Demand video, meaning you can start and stop any movie whenever you want. And they actually had a really great selection. - Anyways, I started watching my movie and saw that the Fonz was playing with his screen too. The only thing is, he didn't have headphones, and he wasn't going to drop a whole dollar on the ones they sell on the plane, so he was limited to the games. Turns out the Fonz is very passionate about inflight electronic games. I felt so sorry for the person in the seat in front of him because he was literally punching the "touchscreen" on the back of their headrest. He was doing very well at checkers. I know this not because I was watching his screen, but because he did a fist pump after each good move he made. No joke. He would do the fist pump and then say "yes!" and look at me. I, of course, smiled the first few times but then quickly learned that it would be to my benefit to pretend that I didn't notice.

After he tired of checkers, he gave bowling a try. Bad idea. He couldn't figure out how it worked, and he wasn't happy about it. His frequent fist pumps turned into exasperated gestures. At one point he threw his hands in the air and over the back of the chair and grabbed onto his headrest and started shaking it. The only problem with that - aside from the fact that he was behaving like a two year old - is that he messed up the screen of the person behind him. That poor soul actually had to tap him and ask him to move his arms. All for a bad game of bowling...

Several games later, the Fonz got bored with his little screen. I thought maybe he would make good on his talk of snoring, but I'm not that lucky. Instead of sleeping, he took a vested interest in what was playing on my screen. Awkward. First off, there's a glare coming from the window behind Fonz, so he has to lean toward me to watch MY movie, without sound, and totally violated what little personal space I was entitled to in seat 26B. Secondly, he would look at the screen and then look me expecting some kind of reaction to what was happening in the movie. So so awkward.

Needless to say, I breathed a sigh of relief when my time with the Fonz was over. What planet do these people come from?

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