Monday, October 29, 2007

Sound familiar?

I posted this exercise in an online writing class I'm in, and all the women in the class (admittedly, there are only 5 of us out of 10 students) chimed in to say they loved it, and what a sleazeball, and they could see it coming a mile away, etc etc etc. It's a girlfest of "Me too!"

The men are being uncharacteristically quiet. Hee hee. Take a hint, fellas. Headphones mean back off.

Here it is:

I’ve been bumped up to first class on the plane back to Seattle. The man standing in my row takes my bag from me without being asked and stows it above the seat.

I am thanking him, and feeling lucky, when I realize he’s looking down my shirt.

“I think I’m the window,” I say, avoiding his eyes.

He stands aside to let me pass, smiling down at me. He is a tall, thickish man of about 50, wearing pressed chinos and a brown silk sweater. The silk smells tangy as I ease past him.

I sit down and dig out my laptop and headphones. After talking to people for five days, all I want to do is tune out.

He drops into his seat with the grace I lack, leaning toward me, crossing one leg over the other, sliding his hands together so they lock. When the steward comes by, he orders a double Scotch, neat. He orders it while looking at me.

I call my husband. “I love you,” I say to him.

My seat-mate fingers a complimentary bottle of water, then offers it to me in a voice that’s smooth as good dark rum. I refuse and slide a DVD into my laptop. I put my headphones on. They are large; they send a message.

“What’re you watching?” He asks.

I don’t look at him. “First Wives’ Club.”

He laughs a salesman’s laugh. “I’ve been married a few times myself. It’s all a matter of perspective.”

He polishes off his Scotch and orders another. It’s gone ten minutes later, when I’m asked to turn off my laptop for take-off. I plug into the plane's sound system and watch the gold trees of Ohio get smaller and smaller as I count down two minutes from takeoff: one one-thousand, two one-thousand, until we reach altitude. I am waiting to turn the movie back on.

But the steward never comes back around to tell me I can turn my laptop on again. I hit the call button, take off my headphones, and look for him.

My seat-mate takes this as an invitation.

“So, finish your movie?” He asks.

“Not yet.”

He nods, drains his glass.

I search for the steward, punch the call button again. Nothing.

“So, you from Cincy? Cincy’s a great town,” he says.


His brows draw down in a small V. “You’re not working, are you?”

“No,” I say, my voice clipped.

“Look.” His voice is no longer like rum. “Do you want to talk, or do you want to be left alone?”

Relief! “I want to be left alone.”

He sits back, spine straight. After a minute, he takes the water bottle he’d offered me and shoves it in his briefcase. He pulls out an iPod, turns it on, and plugs in.

Later, he deplanes without helping me get my bag down. He is on his way to more welcoming women, ones who like to chat. Ones who won’t mind him looking down their shirts.

I call the steward over and this time he comes right away.


Blogger debra said...

A sleezeball dressed in silk is no less a sleezeball. I was once stalked by a doctor at a hospital at which I worked. A sleezeball in scrubs.

12:04 PM  

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