I like lines. Most people don't, supposedly because the modern age of people are so harried to get from point A to point B they can't stop and smell the roses. But I like lines. I like being in transition, not really at one point or another, mainly because if you're not where you're supposed to be, no one expects you to be doing what you're supposed to being doing. The only thing I don't like about lines is-
"Do you have the time dear?"
It really urks me when I go out of my way to staple a "Not Home" sign to my forehead and people deliberately ignore it. I mean, you'd think they'd get the message. Dark sweatshirt with the hood pulled up, hair falling in face, earphones clearly plugged in and general slumped demeanor. I was the epitome of the disaffected teen, if I do say so myself. I was practically wearing that bubble car the pope drives in when he blows through town and still this woman had the audacity to attempt a conversation.
I unplugged my earphones and pulled back my sleeve to find my old oversized silver watch falling off my forearm.
"Uh, about half past six."
She was an older woman, my guess was early to mid sixties, standing behind me in line at the airport in Toronto, Canada. Yes I'm from Canada, please don't make any mountee jokes.
It was raining hard outside, big fat drops plinking and plonking on the windows nearby because in Canada just when you think the weather can't get any worse, cats and dogs start falling from the sky. The airport air-conditioning was stupidly kicked into overdrive and it was freezing but there was a nice consistency to the sound of rain falling.
"Thank you." The old lady said when I really just wanted her to shut up. "I'm traveling to Miami to see my youngest son." She rubbed her hands together excitedly and I pictured the baggy varicose vein filled skin falling right off her arms and pooling on the floor at her feet, where it morphed into a slime monster like the one from that Power Rangers movie and rose to haunt ten year olds for the rest of their lives. She smiled pleasantly at me. "How about you honey? Where you heading?"
"Cambodia. My mom's part of the Doctors Without Borders organization and I'm on a sebatical from school to be her assistant."
The old woman flushed happily, her saggy cheeks going from unsightly gray to pleasant pink. "Oh how exciting. But," Her smile wavered a little and her lifeless eyes screamed of unwanted sympathy and concern. ", what about your father dear?"
"He was killed in Iraq. Taking a leak on the side of the road and a military RV ran him down. Horrible miscommunication. Supposedly the members of a nearby village cooked his remains up for dinner. Very tragic."
The old woman brought her Yoda hand up to her mouth. How can she be buying this rubbish? "Oh lord. What a pointless war." She said sadly after a few moments.
I nodded vigorously. "Amen."
"Next in line please."
"See ya later." I said and approached the airline counter. I handed the perky blond my boarding pass.
"3:48 to Tampa." She said. Gee wonder how she deduced that. "Natalie Wizcot-Talbot."
It always bugs me that flights are always at random times. Most publicly scheduled events are held on boring even times that can be measured as halves, quarters of thirds of an hour. 2:30, 8:45, 12:15. but 3:48? That's a nobody time. A time that's fallen in between the cracks of contemporary time life. Maybe he was once a 3:50, proper, respectable, an upstanding time, but then one day he was ten minutes late and BAM, he's notched down two minutes in status and scarred for life.
Sometimes I can't believe how much time I spend thinking about this shit.
"Okay you're all set."
I pulled the strap of my messenger bag up so it was cutting into my shoulder blade and got on my flight. People say travel is war nowadays with all the bombings and shrapnel and crappy microwaveable meals. God forbid you take off your shoes to protect the lives of respectable God-fearing, paper-recycling Americans.
Thankfully I got a window seat and watched two airport workers lighting up on the runway beneath me while the rest of the passengers took their seats. The guy in front of me was sweating profusely and listening to one of those forget-your-fear-of-flying audiocassettes. I planned on subtly kicking the back of his chair and making rattling noises for the rest of the flight.
A man in a faded blue suit stopped next to my seat, examining his boarding pass and the seat number. Please no. He smiled reassuringly. This was his seat. Kill me now. He reached up to place his briefcase in the overhead compartment and I got a good view of the two huge sweat stains under his armpits. Yum.
He settled down in the seat, straightening his hideous green and yellow striped tie and smiling politely at me. Oh no. I sensed an airline talker.
"So, personal business or work business?" He asked, probably thinking that was the line of the century cause I'm a teenager and can't possibly already be in the workforce (outside the fast food industry that is) because I'm not from Indonesia or Taiwan or wherever they manufacture happy meal toys. Zing.
"Well I guess that depends on whether you classify testifying for your father in open court against a bestiality charge work or personal." I said.
The man mumbled something that sounded vaguely like a sorry and didn't even look in my general direction for the rest of the flight. I basked in my success, pulled up my hood and cranked up the Pixies.