Monday, May 09, 2005

Full Bodied Charmer

For every business trip to India, I have to suffer through ten to Cincinnati, and I got number one out of the way on Friday. Flew in Thursday night, and in a cruel twist of karmic fate, I paid the price for making fun of Bill Clinton’s obesity awareness campaign. Ambling down the aisle to my middle seat in row 14, eyes scanning ahead, looking at rows, and people in rows, interpolating, wheels turning … uh oh … hope she is not in aisle 14, seat C – ugh! She is! Check ticket again – double check ticket – confirm with flight attendant that this is indeed the flight bound for Cincy – all to no avail. Arm rest poised up between the seats out of necessity, she got up and let me take my half seat – it was a comfortable half seat as far as half-seats go, but needless to say it was an expensive half seat. Worse yet – I had planned to do work on the plane, and took no leisure reading, so there I was breaking out the computer and typing away with my elbows practically touching each other so as not to have my personal space invaded. But there is no way to avoid the hip to hip contact (lateral, thank you very much).

As a person naturally curious about what total strangers choose to read, I had to muster all of my will not to bust out laughing when I read the title of her pulp fiction – Full Bodied Charmer. It occurred to me that there is no way a person could write a book like that and slip it past an editor with any chapter wherein the heroine – our full bodied charmer – lassoes herself some young stud in coach class seating (unless the same chapter gratuitously insults Bush, in which case it would get a pass). First class, maybe, but never coach. Taking the marginally plausible concept of a full bodied charmer as the major premise of the book still doesn’t preclude a market, but no one will believe that a full bodied charmer can overcome expropriating half of a $250 seat. Of course, she could always be hitting on the guy across the aisle. In any event, I made my wedding ring conspicuously obvious at the outset, because, with my apple-pie Richie Cunningham looks, I’m the kind of guy a full bodied charmer thinks she can charm.

Commentor PBryon can testify to the fact that, when I am the pursued, rare as that was in my single days, it was in an unusual and most undesirable fashion. He probably doesn’t remember this, but one Saturday night in 1990 or 1991, we went to a bar in Philly called Dirty Franks, and I should have known that the name alone spelled trouble. There were no windows in this bar – it was packed and lacked character – and that was probably the source of the charm to the mostly bohemian crowd. The atmosphere was what I would call crack den chic – you felt like someone bought a crack den, did nothing to improve the space other than install a bar, and then opened for business – I would say “hang out their shingle”, but there were absolutely no markings on the outside of the bar that indicated it was anything other than a condemned building. All part of the crack den chic market niche they were catering to. So it should have come as no surprise, perhaps, when a coked up black man in his fifties was repeatedly telling me “you are very unique,” but somehow such repeated come-ons from an aging drug-addicted gay black man will always strike me as surprising.

As more evidence that I don’t tend to attract the type I am attracted to to the point of not having to myself initiate relations, the Brooklyn Barrister can attest to the night that a women in the Tally Ho bar in Bethlehem, PA, just off of the Lehigh campus, sexually assaulted me while sitting at the bar. She was full bodied, but charm was not part of her approach. She simply leveraged her size to take what she thought was deservedly hers. After dropping a shot of what I do not know in my beer, without asking I might add, I looked at her with a blank and somewhat annoyed stare, saying nothing. She leaned into me, put her hand on my upper thigh, said she was all hot and horny from having just been to girl’s night at Irv’s BYO (a strip bar in Allentown), and then shoved her tongue down my throat.

I can’t say I was entirely sober when the incident occurred, so maybe by being drunk and sitting at the bar I brought it on myself, but that would be blaming the victim. After significant counseling I’ve concluded that there is nothing related to the incident that I can blame myself for. But still I recreate the incident occasionally and ask myself what I could have done differently.

I know this entry has only worsened my karmic fate so I might as well pile on, get it out of my system, and begin my karmic atonement. Occupying my half seat on the way to Cincy is not my worst airplane experience. I once sat next to Methusala the Architect, a man who appeared to be in his late 180s, in the very back row of an airplane. He had an old leather satchel spilling over with large architectural plans, probably for cutting edge new sky scrapers that reach majestically ten stories into the air, and feature new fangled things called elevators.

There were no problems until he fell asleep, or died (I wasn’t sure at first) on my shoulder. I felt that if I moved away, his neck would have snapped like a twig, so I sat motionless. I can still remember the breath – the smell of death. It was as if his innards had died two weeks ago, and as they decayed the hideous gases were expelled with each exhale, followed by a wheezy inhale of oxygen to feed his inner bacterial fire. Of course he was alive, but I have a theory that, like someone who passes out in very cold water, his metabolism had slowed to a point where he could live without oxygen for long stretches of time. In his case, his brain function, though not impaired, was probably so slow that the neurons meant to signal the failure of every vital organ in his body were still transmitting the signal to his brain to shut down as well, and that process was taking a while to play itself out.

The lesson here: When you are flying to India, and the plane is filled with the denizens of an impoverished country who believe in reincarnation, you never risk sitting next to full bodied charmers or people who hang onto life well into their 100s under the mistaken impression that this is all there is. Like I said, for every trip to India, there are 10 to Cincinnati, or at least it just seems that way.


Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Oy...sounds like a rough ride.

Once, on a flight to Atlanta, I was seated next to a one-armed man. He had a cooler-full of Bud cans with him, & offered me one (I declined). He was a long-talker (of course), & each time he leaned into my personal space to say something, he kept bumping me with the stump where his arm once was. It was not an enjoyable ride.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

At least you had the arm rest all to yourself.

1:46 PM  
Blogger SAMIAMNOT said...

On one flight to Phoenix, I met Satan.
...or was that Michael Moore?

4:31 PM  

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