slice of life

There’s nothing quite like going to the airport to get a slice of life, at least a slice of life for those privileged enough to fly, but a slice nonetheless.

When I fly I always think of three things. I think of the time I was trying to get home for my father’s funeral on an overbooked flight. I had been bumped and a kind man, at seeing my grief, relinquished his seat for me. I think about the time I flew from San Francisco to San Diego with Calvin who wailed the entire time, though I held him in my arms in the bulkhead space rocking him in vain. And I think about what a crazy kid Calvin must seem to others—albeit to me too sometimes—an unusual little bugger, flailing and kicking and squealing, and I wonder what goes through the curious minds of oglers. But when I travel by myself, as I do as I write this, I realize there are a whole lot of unusual buggers out there to enjoy.

Take for instance the kid in line behind me waiting to board, who mustn’t be a day over nineteen, looking like a young Jude Law with what seems a spray-on tan over his flawless skin. He keeps messing with his hair, making sure that that perfect feathered auburn wave crests just so over his impeccable eyebrows. I can’t stop looking at him wondering if it's eye make-up. Whatever it is it looks damn good, at least if you like that sort of thing.

Then, having hurked my luggage into the overhead bin and fastened my seat belt low and tight around my lap, I get to check out the seemingly endless line of passers-by. One young guy goes by with backpack straps partially obscuring the words on his t-shirt that say, “stoner to-do list.” I’m really curious about the list of items that follow but he cruises by too quickly to read them.

Following is a young woman who looks as if she is impersonating “Mommy Dearest,” her white pancake makeup accented by eyebrows that could have been drawn on with a Sharpie and puffy lips shiny and red as a Habanero pepper. Her hair is pulled back tightly, or greased back, I can’t tell. All I can think of is “Morticia,” the name my sister gave me when I dyed my hair black and wore extensions.

Next a Goth couple slink by, both with long dreaded ropes erupting from their scalps, one brunette, the other ebony black tapering into frizzy wicked points. She’s got schoolmarm glasses and a stud in her nose, neither of which I mind. She won’t look at me, though I’m sitting right below her trying to catch her gaze so I can flash her a smile.

Just then I realize, in this kind of crowd, Calvin would fit right in—isn’t unusual at all—in the scheme of things, this oh so incredibly diverse human slice of life.

photo by Michael Kolster

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