Friday, March 28, 2008

Eavesdropping on an Airport Encounter

I returned home a few days ago, after spending a longer stint than normal away from home. My flight from L.A. to Sacramento was delayed, so I paced around the terminal a lot.

I was in one of the shops looking at paperbacks when I heard the woman's voice, coated in vinegar: "What are you looking at?" I glanced down the row of books. The woman was glaring at a man perhaps three feet away. They both looked to be in their mid-thirties. He looked flustered for a moment. Then he replied, "I was looking at your breasts." I don't think the woman was expecting that reply. "What did you say?" "I was looking at your breasts," the man answered again, matter-of-factly.

"Do you make a habit of staring at breasts?" The man seemed to think for a moment. "Well, I try not to be obnoxious about it. Do you make a habit of wearing low-cut tops with the word 'yummy' across your chest?" The woman looked surprised, as if she'd just realized that the word "yummy" was plastered across her bosom. The man continued, "Maybe instead of 'yummy,' you should wear a top with 'Don't look here unless you drive a luxury car, own a big house, and look like Brad Pitt' printed on it."

For a moment, I thought the woman might slap the man. Then she laughed. She caught herself, then laughed again, harder. The man turned to leave. She caught him by the sleeve. "Could I interest you in a cup of coffee?" The man seemed to ponder the question for a moment. Then he answered, "No thanks," and walked out of the store.

I didn't find any books I wanted. I bought a bottle of water, and walked back out into the concourse. I felt sad for the man and the woman. Do you ever see a man and woman in the same place, strangers to each other, and think, "They look like they should be a couple"? That's how I felt about the two of them. I had a sense, for some reason, that they were both unattached, and the encounter had already been labeled in my mind as "Another Lost Connection."

Twenty minutes or so passed by as I sat in the gate area for my departing flight. Then the agent announced that my flight would be delayed for another half-hour. I got up to join the Terminal Undead pacing through the concourse. Then, as I neared the restrooms, I saw the woman from the shop. Yep, the Yummy Woman. She was looking into the entrance of the men's restroom.

Being both a sneaky and a nosy bastard, I bent to the floor, and pretended to tie my shoe.

The man from the shop, he who had dared stare at her breasts, exited. He looked surprised to see her. She was waiting for him. She looked nervous. He looked nervous. He stopped. She walked up to him. "I'm sorry I bit your head off. I'd just finished getting off the phone with my ex-husband. It wasn't a pleasant conversation. Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" The man seemed to think for a moment. He pointed to her coat. "Will you wear that so I can look at your face?" She laughed. "It's a deal."

They walked off together, looking a little like a couple of shy kids on a first date.

They looked like they belonged together. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. I'm glad they got one more chance to find out.


Uncle E said...

What a wonderful post, Hal. I'll wager you have enough 'airport soap opera' stories you could write a novel. And if they're all as interesting and compelling as this one I'll be first in line to buy it!

Redlefty said...

Great, great story and an incredible delivery. What a glimpse into so many aspects of humanity.

David said...

Good one Hal.
I love to people watch. Even better is watching people watch other people.

debby said...

It sounds like they made their connection. And I'm betting that your family is pleased that you made yours as well. Welcome home!

Roland said...

I'll have to be more obvious...

Mike said...

That's a great story, Hal!

Annie said...

Great story. I love people watching!