'Tis the season for social allegory

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last night while sitting interminably on the tarmac in Baltimore after a terrifying aborted landing at foggy National Airport I came to know my fellow passengers quite well, a social microcosm à la John Ford's Stagecoach: a federal marshall, a man who organizes off-shore call centers, a soldier just returning from deployment in Afghanistan, a nice couple from Fredericton who were delighted to encounter another Maritimer, an enraged solipsist who kept belittling the staff for not letting him off in the middle of the runway, a flight attendant who sang "Twinkle twinkle little star to us" over the course of what was supposed to be a 20 minute flight from Philly and finally declared firmly, "We have to get to DC. I BELONG in DC."

As the hours wore on and we encountered diversion after diversion, mechanical failure after mechanical failure, I did think, "Wow, it's not a good sign that we are now explicitly discussing how we will divide up the labor when we have to form a new desert-island society in the style of LOST."

When we briefly deplaned in Baltimore, the enraged solipsist left our little band of brothers/proto-society in a cloud of luggage-oriented recrimination. But before he did, he got the number of the woman sitting next to him, who had been parroting his every gripe like Echo and Narcissus for the last three hours. "Should I give you my number or my email?" she asked anxiously. He shrugged, and began grinding his teeth in the general direction of the gate agent. "Which would you *like*?" she persisted. "Whatever," he replied, focusing his glare on a pilot who was emerging from the gate, "This is insane. UNACCEPTABLE!"

"Are you kidding me?" I thought, "Who picks up women while behaving like a tool? Who consents to be picked up in these circumstances? What about this experience made you think, Now THERE's a guy I want to spend more time with. Maybe even the rest of my life"?

Happy Solstice.  They're all getting longer from here.