"You really whacked it off good" she blurted out emphatically. I snapped out of my momentary spaceout to look back at her and say "Yeah, it doesn't look the same anymore when it's that long". She handed me back my driver's license and said "Well your hair looks nice short, so it's all good". And with that, I was through LAX airport security and on my way back home to the Pacific Northwest to see my folks.
My mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and because my sister was already taking our mother to and from nearly all her doctor appointments, it was well beyond time for me to help carry some of the load. I had spent the previous few days neurotically checking the Alaska Airlines website at hourly intervals in order to find a better seat than 26C in the back of the plane when I had initially purchased. The day before the flight a lovely aisle seat became available forward of the wings and I pounced on it. If clicking with a mouse could ever be considered pouncing.
After getting groped by airport security, I grabbed a cup of Major Dickason's from the cafe, showed my boarding pass to the boarding pass people and strolled onto the plane. I always like to board the plane last because I don't enjoy sitting on a plane that's not in motion. I did the usual countdown to my seat as I passed rows. 1D, 2D, 3D, and so on until I reached 7D, where the nice stewardess was standing.
"Oh hi, are you in 7D? Would you like to exchange seats with the passenger in 11C so she can sit next to her husband?" the stewardess asked in her cordial stewardess tone.
I looked at the wife, then the husband next to the stewardess, raised my eyebrows and thought about it for approximately .5 seconds, during which the memories of every single time I checked on the Alaska Airlines website to get seat 7D rushed through my brain.
"Does that seat recline?" I asked.
"No, that seat is in front of the emergency exit, so it doesn't recline" she replied.
I told her "no", stuffed my laptop bag under the seat and sat down, knowing full well I'd get the stink eye from the husband for the rest of the two hour trip. I didn't care. I was going to sleep.
Little did I know that the husband had more than the stink eye as his weapon. He had the stink breath. His wife made it a point to camp out in the aisle next to my seat to speak to her husband in French. I have no problem with the French in general, however I do have a problem with being on planes next to them.
His garbage breath nearly made me puke or exchange seats with the wife, but the thought of the last time I had close quarters on an airplane with a Frenchman made me dig in my heels and persevere. I have to hand it to them, they really turned it up a notch what with the death breath and Frenchman husband getting up every 5 minutes to visit is wife who had just been standing next to us chatting for 5 minutes.
Finally things calmed down and I was able to dig out one of two magazines I brought with me. It struck me as odd that the cover of the magazine read "Mom, I Love You. I Also Wish You Were Dead." Not a magazine I'd be sharing with my mother when I arrived.
I was able to collect about 3 minutes of shuteye before the beverage cart arrived at my aisle. I ordered another coffee. The stewardess turned to the other side of the aisle and began speaking the words "Sir, since you were so kind as to exchange your seat with another passenger..." and I swear she was turning her head toward me and speaking louder as she continued, "...we'd like to offer you a complimentary adult beverage of your choice." By the end of this sentence I was revisiting my decision to stay in seat 7D. I think Frenchman coughed up a hairball into my coffee and stewardess glared at me as I considered what I might have ordered. A Bloody Mary? A double? Nah. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.