The girls and I are in Oregon visiting with my family. Traveling by airplane when outnumbered by my kids was not as terrible as it could have been, but it was certainly overwhelming. I got a lot of help in the security screening line from a fellow passenger (a grandma), and that made all the difference.
On the airplane, Miriam had the window seat and Magdalena and I had the center seat. I was hoping to get at least a woman in the aisle seat; if I was lucky, maybe I would even get a woman who had children herself. A grandma would have also been acceptable.
Instead, the person who got the seat right next to me was a large man. A large young man, unmarried and without children. In other words, just about the opposite of what I was hoping for.
We got to talking during the flight and it turns out that he's a bounty hunter. A real, live person who hunts down criminals who have skipped out on bail. Yikes. Other items of interest that I discovered about my seatmate during the course of the flight included that he has a gay brother, that said gay brother recently got married (in Canada) to an ex-Mormon, that he believes in aliens, and that the ancient Sumerians had close dealings with aliens. Also, giants used to inhabit the earth. They were eight feet tall and had three rows of teeth.
When the plane finally touched down in Portland, my new friend and I encountered that awkward stage of airplane acquaintance where you close the conversation even though you know you have to stay seated next to that person while the plane taxis to the gate. So he said something like, "enjoy your visit with your family!" and I said, "I hope your business deal goes well!" and then we just sat there in awkward silence for another 10 minutes before we could get off the plane.
And then when we did get off the plane, he and I reached the second-most awkward stage of airplane acquaintance - where you say goodbye again, realizing that you may very well see that person again down in baggage claim in five minutes. Still, we said goodbye and good luck one more time. Luckily, I did not see him in baggage claim, so we were spared that most uncomfortable third sheepish farewell.
Once, when saying goodbye to an airplane friend for the second time, I actually said, "Goodbye, but maybe I'll see you in baggage claim," as if that would reduce the awkwardness. Instead, the lady looked at me funny, like I'd broken some kind of unwritten rule in the airplane acquaintance code.
Anyhow, we're here now and having a great time. I'm just not looking forward to the flight back to Tucson. But maybe I'll get lucky and get someone who isn't a bounty hunter for a neighbor this time.