Recently I had to make an unexpected trip to Kansas, which necessitated flying into and out of the airport at Tulsa, Okla. Because the Tulsa airport is not super big and not served by many airlines, I had to book on American Airlines going and a United Airlines flight returning. This was just a couple of weeks after big news stories about passenger incidents on those airlines, which resulted in me being teased far and wide about what might happen to me.
As it turned out, the flights into and out of Tulsa were basically uneventful, if choppy. But the final leg from Denver to back to Portland was a whole different story.
I was lucky to get a window seat, which I always prefer. Just before takeoff, the attendant announced that the flight was full, so no one could move to an empty seat. That didn’t bother me. For a few minutes, anyway.
Just before takeoff, a young lady boarded and sat in the seat next to mine. She just sat and stared at my face for the longest time, well after we were in the air.
I had my arm on the armrest and after a while, she started lightly running her fingers back and forth over my arm. After doing that for some time, she started running her fingers over my fingers. Then she stopped and didn’t look at me anymore — but just for a little while. Then she started trying to put her feet in my lap. She tried for some time before giving up. But then she started trying to actually crawl into my lap.
I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to tell her to stop doing that, because I didn’t know what crazy thing she might then try to do.
Luckily, much to my relief, she was not able to get into my lap. So she went back to staring at me for a long while. Then, when we were still about 40 minutes away from landing, she started running her fingers all over my face. As we were approaching Portland and had to buckle our seatbelts, she finally stopped.
That was some experience. I would think that it would have been clearly obvious to her that, at age 73, I was much older than she was. Why, then, was she so determined to keep touching me? I could not figure out the attraction.
O.K., fess up time: That “young lady” was 1 year old. Her daddy was sitting two seats away from me. Her mommy was beside me, and she held the little girl in her lap. But the little girl wasn’t interested in sitting there, she wanted to move around and explore her surroundings. I happened to be a part of her surroundings.
I think the real reason why she was so curious about me was because she could not figure out why there was so much hair on my face — I have a beard.
Her parents did an incredibly good job of making sure that she didn’t get all fussy and start crying. Of course their task was probably somewhat easier than normal because she was so busy trying to figure out why that old man had so much hair on his face.
As we approached Portland, I found myself wishing that the flight could have been longer. Why? Well, I was enjoying all that attention from such a pretty young lady. No doubt about it, that is a flight that I will always enjoy remembering.
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