The Blog

| November 3, 2017

Number 231

Airport Stories

I’m sitting between Thomas – not Tom...never Tom – and Keith...or Kevyn with a Y. Alan just left. So did Walt and Carol. The people are real. Their names have been made up and tailored on the spot.

I’ve become one of those people now. – an airport person – a layover lounge act, a frequent flying funny guy. Maybe I’m the only one, but I find that hard to believe, because it’s all so entertaining. See, I love people and their differences. I love the details. I love their stories. And if I don’t know their real stories, or even their real names, I tend to supply them and fill in the blanks. It’s a game to pass the time and probably fodder for a new book.

The thing I love about airports is that everyone is coming and going at the same time. Total strangers are passing each other, sometimes thinking they’re invisible, or hoping everyone else is, but not stopping to think that everyone, literally everyone is noticing them, subconsciously or otherwise, and thinking text-length thoughts like, CUTE or SO TALL or GOOD HAT or BAD HAIR or ARE THOSE HER PAJAMAS? or IS THAT WHO I THINK IT IS? I tend to take it a step further, especially when there’s time to fill and I’m short on laptop power and I want to save Vanity Fair for the plane.

Which brings us to Thomas and Kevyn…yes, I’ve decided it’s definitely Kevyn…with a Y, and Alan and Walt and Carol. I have 3 hours until my flight, so I’ve decided to stop for dinner. Did you know airport calories are not the same as real life calories? It’s true. Airport calories live in a state of suspended animation and time zone confusion so 2000 calories translate into something like 12! It’s great. So I’ve decided on the Fettuccine Alfredo. Score.

I’m seated next to a couple somewhere between the ages of 58 and 64. They look nice…and exhausted. I learn that they’ve flown from Lisbon to London, where they had a 15-hour layover – WHAT?! – and now find themselves in Chicago waiting for another flight to somewhere in Ohio. I’ve decided their names are Walt and Carol. They… sing in the church choir and are avid bowlers. Carol loves a jigsaw puzzle and Walt enjoys carpentry – small projects like birdhouses. They’ve been married for, let’s see, 32 years, and have two daughters – Linda, a Dentist, and Stacy, the artsy one, who has a beautiful, soprano voice and hopes to be a Broadway star! The trip to Lisbon was a dream come true for Carol and she’ll never forget it…but now, she just wants to get home to her Westie, Mr. Muffin and her coffee maker. Travel safely you two.

The man on my other side – Alan – is, let’s say, 42 and looks and dresses like a supporting character in a TV sitcom from the early seventies. He has a slight paunch and a face that’s 3 steps away from handsome. He’s wearing a sweater and the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen, but he seems very nice and has a kind, peaceful expression, all of which add up to the thought that he could be a serial killer or possibly a church organist. He eats only half of his lasagne, then leaves…in a hurry…I don’t want to think about it. Alan’s table is cleared, the white paper table cloth protector is replaced but not dusted for fingerprints. Mistake? I wonder.

A new occupant is shown to his seat – a young business man, something like 12-years old. He looks like he was taken out of the oven too soon, like he’s not quite ready for the cold air of the outside world. He’s wearing a navy blue suit by, I’m guessing, Grrranimals. I’ve decided to name him Kevyn…with a Y. He’s adorable. He won’t last. When Kevyn reaches 30 or there abouts, he will have chucked it all – too much stress – or he will have been chucked – a general lack of people skills, which will have come back into fashion and demand by then. He’ll move back in with his parents and do basically nothing…for perhaps too long.

But for now he’s still Kevyn with a Y, the impossibly young, naive Kevyn with a Y. Enjoying his company-bought steak and beer.

Walt and Carol’s table is now being set for a prematurely grey-haired guy – fit, trim, bespectacled, 40-ish. He types on his phone and scrolls, types and scrolls, never stopping, even while ordering, even when his food comes. His face registers nothing, he takes three bites of his caesar salad then pushes it away. He drinks his red wine in three swallows, emptying the glass, still typing and scrolling. I call him Thomas. Clearly not a Tom. You can look at some people and know immediately they’re not nick-name-able. Thomas is such a person. There is nothing nick about him.

Thomas leaves as quickly as he came. I imagine that’s how he lives his life, barely leaving an impression but always in a hurry towards…something.

Kevyn with a Y is leaving now too and I’m alone on this side of the restaurant. There’s still plenty of time until my flight, so I take out my laptop, order another Pinot Grigio and take this opportunity to immortalize my new dinner companions. Yes, a book idea is formulating – a novel idea, so to speak. And the locale has been decided for me. It’s an airport restaurant. It’s 9 PM. And it’s all so entertaining.

 

All human life can be found in an airport.
– David Walliams

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