Sunday, September 25, 2011

Strangers on a plane

Today on sunday, Sunday, September 25, 2011, Page 10, COLUMN
From
http://imcmsimages.mediacorp.sg/CMSFileserver/documents/006/PDF/20110925/2509FFW010.pdf
Source Website:
http://www.todayonline.com/Columns/Speakeasy/EDC110925-0000230/Strangers-on-a-plane
By
Phin Wong, features editor, todayonsunday@mediacorp.com.sg, 04:46 AM Sep 25, 2011



PHOTO: Talk is tyranny when you're stuck next to a motormouth in the sky
Art by Yen Yok, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

Today on sunday, Sunday, September 25, 2011, Page 10, COLUMN


I could feel his shifty little eyes darting back and forth in my direction before the man in the seat next to me actually turned and spoke. It was not unlike a little ferret (a domesticated mammal of the type Mustela putorius furo) peeking out from behind a bush, too shy to say hello but accustomed enough to humans not to run away.

"Are you ... visiting Singapore?" he finally asked, rather shakily, clearing his throat between "you" and "visiting" as if "Singapore" were a suggestive word.

"No, I live there," I answered, fighting the urge to feed the little fella a handful of pellets from my pocket.

"Ah," he nodded vigorously before pausing long enough, I'm guessing, to recite his favourite Shakespearean soliloquy in his bald head. "That's nice."



PHOTO: 12-hour-long scintillating conversation 40,000ft up in the air
http://www.hqwalls.com.ua/img/other/airplanes_003.jpg
http://www.hqwalls.com.ua/eng/other_013.html

And so began our 12-hour-long scintillating conversation 40,000ft up in the air. ("I like noodles," he offered at one point. "Singapore has good noodles.") I was hoping for a sudden drop in altitude to lose consciousness.

No such luck. I was, however, treated to an enthralling story of how he got a discount on his hotel room - and so did his father-in-law on a trip to Atlanta. Twice.

Air travel is, for some curious creatures, a lovely way to make lifelong friends you'll never see again. They go from hellos on the tarmac to wives, husbands and lovers upon take-off, to haemorrhoids (Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen veins in the lower portion of the rectum or anus) somewhere over Tehran.



PHOTO: Strangers In the Plane
http://a3.l3-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/117/42a9360156054019909bad9c9e390890/l.jpg
http://www.myspace.com/sigmoonmusic/photos/10009690


It's honourable, this demented determination to bare their flabby souls to perfect strangers without fear of judgment. Heart-warming, even, when you consider how it is a rare form of interpersonal communication across cultural divides in this faceless Facebook digital age. But mainly it's really annoying when all the other person wants to do is watch the 26 movies he missed because he was inhumanely chained to his office desk.

("Satay. Oh, I like satay, too.")



PHOTO: Giving the space to be free, and the time to be calm
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I8u6pulyKII/S_VfcFLQkxI/AAAAAAAACjk/EHdakttxUbc/s1600/13907-Pretty-Gentle-Woman-With-A-Bird-On-Her-Shoulder-And-A-Butterfly-On-Her-Hand-Sitting-Outdoors-In-Spring-Time-Clipart-Illustration.jpg
http://minddeep.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html


I didn't always use to be the people-hating air-traveller I am today. In fact, I didn't at all mind shooting the breeze with my neighbour in the sky. Okay, that was a lie. I longed for conversation with someone new. I would cross my fingers and wish really hard that the person seated next to me would turn out to be a wonderful conversationalist, realise I'm the one thing that's been missing in life and suggest we run away together to start a new life selling potentially toxic seashell necklaces on some beach paradise - only for me to heartbreakingly decline because who would feed my cat?

But it never worked out. Ever.

("I love chicken rice. Can you make it?")



PHOTO: Stuck next to a woman who sweetly fell asleep with her head on his shoulder
http://i966.photobucket.com/albums/ae145/ockoala/Drunken%202/snapshot20110705133655.jpg
http://koalasplayground.com/2011/07/06/drunken-to-love-you-episode-12-recap/


One time I was stuck next to a woman who sweetly fell asleep with her head on my shoulder and dispensed a steady supply of drool onto my sweater at approximately two drops a minute. Another time a dude sobbed uncontrollably watching the riveting in-flight entertainment, causing the flight attendants to eye me suspiciously. Then there was the obliviously racist hag ("Your people are so hardworking!"). And that's only the tip of the Economy iceberg.



PHOTO: Watching the riveting in-flight entertainment
http://i966.photobucket.com/albums/ae145/ockoala/Drunken%202/snapshot20110705133511.jpg
http://koalasplayground.com/2011/07/06/drunken-to-love-you-episode-12-recap/


Over in Business Class, there was the clearly inebriated older white man who insisted on chatting my ear off about shopping centre real estate in New Zealand. The stewardesses were more than happy to ply the drunk with more champagne - while ignoring sober me because I clearly had to be just his low-grade Asian toy boy getting a free ride. While this is, technically, more a story about terrible service and discrimination, I consider that man to be the worst sort of seat companion - the type that causes one to be without champagne. I hope real estate in Auckland has gone down the toilet.



PHOTO: In clouds
http://www.hqwalls.com.ua/img/other/airplanes_008.jpg
http://www.hqwalls.com.ua/eng/other_013.html


Like Elizabeth Taylor towards the end, I have simply had too many bad relationships to believe the dream will ever work out. I now see mile-high conversation for what it really is: Compulsive talkers preying on an innocent captive audience. I'm getting married, I've watched the movie you're watching now and it's really awful, I quit smoking three months ago, I work out five times a week, I have four cats, two dogs and a pet pig named Ludwig. Monologues on a plane are a dream scenario for these narcissists because the only escape hatch leads to certain death via plummeting.



PHOTO: Like Elizabeth Taylor towards the end, I have simply had too many bad relationships to believe the dream will ever work out.
http://www.arts-reproductions.com/uploads/painting/image/14267/original_09_dancing_042.jpg
http://www.arts-reproductions.com/reproduction-tableaux/14251-tableaux-danse-toile-artistique-couple-danseurs-26

"I like those little dumplings you have in soups," the ferret next to me droned on. "I like soup."

As with any form of tyranny, there comes to a point where one just has to fight back. That time had come. I put my hand next to his on the armrest. I brushed my fingers against his. And then I smiled.



PHOTO: There comes to a point where one just has to fight back http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2537/4108448173_2a8f019824_o.jpg http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=56581&start=75


Within minutes the ferret had his headphones on, watching Sylvester Stallone shoot the entire population of a tiny island nation with new-found interest.

Victory was mine.



PHOTO: “I thought it would be an insult to the men who are fighting, to think that a fictional character could come and change everything.”
http://snarkerati.com/movie-news/files/2008/01/john-rambo.jpg
http://snarkerati.com/movie-news/sylvester-stallone-feared-for-his-safety-during-filming-of-new-rambo/


I tapped him on the shoulder. "I've seen this movie," I smiled. "And it's really awful."
By Phin Wong, features editor, todayonsunday@mediacorp.com.sg, 04:46 AM Sep 25, 2011



PHOTO: 首页 › 个性图库 › 经典油画 › 人物 › 威廉·阿道夫·布格罗 - Bouguereau, William-Adolphe, Psyche and Cupid.jpg
http://s1c2.walanwalan.com/pic/photo/sc/2b94/7f6e/321b/f787.jpg/showah.jpg
http://www.walanwalan.com/ph/15923.aspx


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