I'm back home. Tired, beat, and bedraggled. My blisters have blisters and It's a Small World After All is still stuck in my head, but we had a great time. Before I blog about our Disney experience I thought I'd discuss the tribulations of my airport travels as they relate to books and writing.
First let me say whoever said, "Getting there is half the fun," either was going to one miserable place or they managed to avoid airports in their travels. The hurry up and wait dynamic of air travel churns my innards more than Space Mountain on a full stomach. I'd much rather drive, regardless of distance, but time doesn't always permit that. There is however one silver lining to airplanes. This may shock all of y'all, but I'm a people person. I like to talk. Chat up strangers. Study people and their mannerisms. Therefore, I love the character study being crammed together with hordes of strangers provides. I am that guy who likes to strike up a conversation with my seatmates regardless of age, sex or nationality. Yes, I know this annoys some people, but I can't help myself.
The row of seats on Southwest all have three seats and my wife and I split up each taking a child so on 4 of my 5 legs of air travel I found myself sitting by a stranger. These are my general observations.
Leg 1--Amarillo to Denver - Yeah I know Denver is the wrong direction from Orlando, but direct flights from Amarillo are few and far between. Young woman in her mid to late forties took the seat next to me. She had on a long, full-length white coat. My first thought was who the hell would wear a white coat to ride on an airplane where God knows what has happened on the seats. She was nice and cordial, but opened up a book and started reading almost at once. I don't like to bother anyone who is reading so I stayed quiet as she read Marley and Me. About twenty minutes in she started crying and didn't stop for the next half hour. I smiled to myself, almost proud on behalf of the author that he'd hooked her that deeply. She apologized for being a basket case (her description, not mine) as she sniffed into a Kleenex. As we descended into Denver he closed the book and told me she too had a yellow Labrador and that no way could she go see that movie.
Leg 2 -- Denver to Orlando - A man with a shave head in his late forties took the seat beside me. He immediately opened a paperback Iris Johansen novel and began reading. But he finished reading the novel and then commenced to talking to me. His family was headed home from Orlando after vacationing at copper Mountain in Colorado. He was a police supervisor of the K9 unit in Orlando and we chatted about bombs, police procedure, narcotics and other useful things any write should know about that kind of stuff. He said he'd always wanted tow rite but never had made the time to do so. He gave me his finished copy of Quicksand he'd been reading and we chatted all they way to Florida while my son played his Nintendo DS.
Leg 3 -- Orlando to New Orleans - A young boy of about nine or ten sat by me and while I tried to talk to him I quickly gathered that his parents had entrenched the "Don't talk to strangers" mantra in his psyche so I began reading so as not to give him nightmares about the big hairy guy who wouldn't shut up. I started reading a novel I got for Christmas called, One Mississippi by Mark Childress.
Leg 4 -- New Orleans to Dallas - My fourth and final seatmate was by far the most intriguing. Don't get me wrong the K9 cop was a great guy and somebody I could hang out with I'm sure, but seatmate 4 was the kind of stuff I could build a character out of. She was tall, nearly as tall as me so that would put her six foot three or so. Pretty, though not nearly as beautiful as she thought herself. Slender of build but curvaceous enough to garner a man's attention. She had knee high riding boots on over denim jeans and a polo shirt, but a haughty air about her made it plain she had money, or at least wanted you to think she did. She had villainess written all over her. She was reluctant to take the seat beside me but the plane was full she she had no choice. A mousy little guy followed behind her and was forced to sit few rows up.
I asked little Miss Up-turned-nose if she'd like me to put the arm rest down which she responded with a very stiff and formal, "I am fine, thank you." Then she pulled out a set of Bose headphones which she plugged into an iphone. Next came a velvet facial mask which she placed over her eyes as if to say, Not only do I not want to hear you speak but I do not even want to look at your big hairy face for the next hour and a half. She had an August copy of Vogue Magazine on her lap but she never cracked it open. Way I figured, if the woman was all she thought she was then she'd at least have the latest issue of her fashion magazine. I thought about tapping her on the shoulder and saying, "Guess what, I'm a writer and I recently finished a book titled Plundered Booty," just to get her reaction, but I was too tired to be ornery so I read some more.
When we reached altitude and the captain turned off the seat belt sign her lackey, err I mean boyfriend (she wasn't wearing a wedding ring so I'll assume he wasn't her hubby got up and brought her a bottle of Evian water. He pressed it into her hand and cooed in her ear, "Is there anything else I can get you baby?"All the while, he massaged her back in small little circles.
She answered with a barely perceptible shake of her head, not even bothering to remove her mask. He returned to his seat and she sat ramrod straight in her seat right up until the exact moment to plane stopped. At which point she stood and sashayed down the aisle. Someday, I will need a bitchy character and I will have her to draw on for inspiration.
The last leg from Dallas to Amarillo was uneventful as me and my son had a row to ourselves. One good thing is that for all the dire news about books and the publishing world I saw tons of people reading while I was away . On planes, in airports, even standing in lines at Disney World.
Hope all of y'all had as much fun over the holidays and I look forward to catching up on y'alls blogs over the next few weeks. Right now I'm too scared to even open my google reader and see the number of unread posts.