Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Plane to L.A.

You never know who you're going to end up sitting next to on an airplane. Countless stories have been told about the mis-matching of seatmates: someone who wants to be left alone to work, read or sleep finds that the adjacent seat is occupied by a person who wants to make a new best friend. It's frustrating and annoying and you can't do a thing about it.

Last week I was on a flight to LAX; due to a mix-up I ended up being one of the last eight people to board the plane. I knew I was going to be relegated to a middle seat.

As I reached the third row, an attractive blonde woman with1980s eyeliner and artificially inflated lips grabbed my arm and said furtively, "Do you want to sit here? No babies, no fat people-- it’s a great row!" I was a bit taken aback, and half-expected her to open her overcoat and offer to sell me a Rolex for ten bucks.

But I like to sit in the front of the plane, so I said, "Sure," and scooted in. She even offered to shove my coat into the overhead bin for me.

As we both settled into our seats, she said how glad she was to have a ‘normal’ person in the middle. Clearly, mistaking me for ‘normal’ was a key mistake on her part, but that’s not important right now.

Half an hour into our flight, Ms. Aisle Seat leaned over me and addressed Ms. Window Seat excitedly: "So what do you do-- I heard you talking about casting?” (Apparently she’d been on a phone call before I boarded.)

The startled woman in the window seat gave a simple, dignified answer. "I'm a manager, and I scout talent," she said.

Ms. Aisle Seat gushed, "I starred in _________ and _________. I'm Cindy Lou Picketfence! I used to do a lot of informercials! I sold more product than anyone else on tv in the ‘90s! I also developed a line of food supplements!"

The promo went on quite a bit longer than that, and of course that's not verbatim, but her name's not Cindy Lou Picketfence, either. These shows were like the “Friends” and “Law and Order” of the 1980s. She was not the star of these programs, but she had long-running roles, and that's certainly impressive. So while you probably wouldn’t recognize her name, you certainly know the shows.

Cindy Lou kept telling us (by this time, my book was put away) tales of her costars, and what they’re doing now. Okay, this was pretty entertaining, especially when she trashed her husband's celebrity ex-wife, but I did feel a bit like the old maid aunt chaperoning the cheerleaders’ party. I was captive, yet strangely unable to participate.

A couple of times I offered to switch seats with the actress, just to get out of their way. But she was committed to staying on the aisle because she had two tiny dogs in their carrier in front of her feet.

Amidst a lot of "Do you know so-and-so?“ and “Remember Whosits?“ these two found out that they actually grew up in the same town. I'm here to tell you, folks, that although people bemoan St. Louisans asking, "where'd you go to high school?", that is not a query limited to our burg. These women were from southern California, and they simultaneously blurted that one out! I laughed out loud, and I guess they'll never know why. They learned that they went to the same school, about ten years apart, and knew a lot of the same people.

Ye Olde High School
Small world. Smaller plane. And a teeny weenie middle seat.


  1. ha! I love flying Southwest because there's no first class. You just get lumped in with any old body who decided to fly cheap for the day!

  2. So, you're not gonna dish the dirt and name the names? Great story, though.

  3. Hey Leah! I prefer aisle seats, and definitely fill them, but I'm not a talker. Too shy. You'd have sat squeezed next to a hulking dork, wondering why he didn't say a word. The weirdo. Indigo

  4. I am not sure how you were able to stay in the middle. It must have been like watching a tennis match up close. Yikes!

  5. Oo now I'm curious on the real names. I'd be listening in on that stuff. I'm nosy that way.

    And I love Southwest.