Hellis Loses Her Mind on an Airplane
Let’s take a moment to set the stage:
Picture a long line of passengers all crammed together as they board an airplane. I am one of those passengers. My progress down the center aisle is measured in hours, which means that there are moments where I am paused at a particular row long enough to notice quirks and peculiarities of the people who have already taken a seat. For example, the woman seated in 6D. Let’s call her Joan, and let’s imagine she looks like this:
(I found this pic by typing “pics of women who won first prize for casseroles at county fairs”)
Since I am only 4’11” tall, the view of the seated passengers is obstructed by the line of normal sized humans in front of me. This means that I can only see the people who occupy my peripheral vision, namely, people who are seated in window seats. People like Joan. Only when I move forward and the horde in front of me moves away am I able to see anyone positioned in an aisle seat. Hold onto that fact, folks. You are going to need it for later. Now let’s get back to the plane:
I make my way down the aisle toward Joan and notice that she appears sweaty and panicked. Rocking back and forth and wringing her hands, she demonstrates the classic signs of someone with a fear of flying. I also notice that taped up over the window at her side is an 8X10 photo of a man about her age. Let’s call him Paul, and let’s say he looks like this (I found this pic by typing “Dudes named Paul”):
Since my line is at a stand still I have time to ponder the reason as to why there is a picture of a man taped over Joan’s window. I watch her steal glances at the photo (when she’s not busy trying to rip her fingers off), and decide that this photo must function as a focal point for Joan in those moments when her fear of flying threaten to overtake her. This man Paul must be a source of comfort to Joan in her life, and it makes me smile to imagine the warmth and happiness he surely brings her. I think to myself that it would be quite an honor to know Paul in real life.
Well it didn’t take long for me to find out, because as the line moved forward the man in aisle seat 6C was revealed. A man who looked exactly like this:
No, I did not accidentally put up a pic of the same man twice, because the man seated in the aisle seat was none other than Paul, the same man whose face was taped over the window (if you had to read that sentence twice, you are not alone. I was there and I had to reread it to make sure it made sense). I’ll paint the picture once more for clarity:
Blue ribbon winning, casserole baking, pasty-faced Joan is seated in window seat 6D, flanked by a real-life dude named Paul to her left and a pic of the same dude named Paul to her right- his two-dimensional mug beaming proudly in all its comb-over glory.
Now some of you may be thinking, “So what, Hellis? She’s got a pic of the man sitting next to her. What’s the big deal? I’ve got pictures of people I know in my wallet. Did you really think there was enough meat in this moment to justify a blog post? I’ve just wasted three minutes of my life reading the sub-moronic ramblings of a semi-functioning illiterate. Eat shit and die.”
To which I answer, “But WHY did she tape up the picture?!? She didn’t need the photo as a proxy for comfort, THE DUDE WAS SITTING RIGHT THERE!” Oh, and also, “Fuck you. That last bit was harsh.”
By the time it truly registers what I’ve just seen I’m
seated confined to my own window seat three rows behind them, the winner of the annual John Goodman look-alike contest blocking my way to the aisle. Now I can’t even fake a bout of explosive diarrhea as an excuse to pass their seats on my way to the lavatory. Since I am not free to roam around the cabin I spend the next 2 hours and 45 minutes with my right temple pressed against the window, staring down the space between the seats and the fuselage, straining to catch a glimpse of Joan interacting with the photo taped over the glass. I am desperate for a clue as to why this woman has gone to the trouble of hanging a pic of a man to her right when that same man sits inches to her left.
Naturally, my mind tried to solve that puzzle but created more questions than answers.
Maybe she has neck issues and cannot turn her head to the left. But why didn’t they just switch seats? Maybe the picture was actually of Paul’s twin brother Peter, and maybe Joan was Peter’s wife. But why was Paul accompanying Joan and not Peter? Maybe Peter is dead and they were flying to his funeral. Or maybe, just maybe, they did this on purpose just to fuck with my head, to which I respond, “Mission. Accomplished.”
Needless to say, I never got my answer. Both Paul and Joan exited the plane before I had a chance to ask. To this day only one person believes this story, and that’s only because crazier shit happens to this person on a daily basis (stay tuned for blog posts on shouting matches in supermarkets over someone named Patrick Swayze). I guess I am hoping this blog post might catch either Joan or Paul’s attention so that they can give me an answer to the question that keeps me up at night.