My best friend met her boyfriend in an airport. That’s right. She actually developed a relationship with that weird guy who talked to her just a little too much while waiting to catch a flight that, as usual, was delayed. Though I never told her so, I always thought she was fucking crazy for even responding to this guy, not to mention giving him her phone number, and then meeting him for coffee weeks later.
It turns out that my quickness to judge may have made me the foolish one. Though I’ve been a frequent flyer for the past decade, it wasn’t until one of my final back-and-forth MIA to EWR flights before settling in New York, that I realized how much one could truly learn about someone just by observing them during the seemingly endless hours spent in the airport waiting for a flight to board.
Seeing as I’m a neurotic mess, I always make sure to arrive at the airport two hours in advance for domestic flights (don’t even ask how early I arrive at the airport for international flights). Once I’ve visited all the airport stores, gotten sick of CNN’s repeating thirty-minute loop, and exhausted half the battery power in my iPad, I resort to people watching.
It’s amazing the things you notice about people when you’re paying attention. Before even speaking to someone, you can tell if they’re laid back or uptight, confident or insecure, just by the way they are sitting. You can tell if they’re obnoxiously self-absorbed or sweet and kind-hearted just by the way they converse on the phone. As it turns out, the airport gate is quite similar to any other social atmosphere in which we search for someone worth getting to know.
Personally, I find myself looking for the sloppy guy, slumped down in his chair, headphones on, captivated by his MacBook. I will go out of my way to sit across from this guy, and slump down in my own seat with my feet up, headphones on, and iPhone in hand. I subtly mouth the lyrics to the music I’m listening to, all the while giving him the occasional stare, until he notices me and we make awkward longer-than-comfortable eye contact. When it comes down to it, I am just as weird as the stranger who sits next to you that does not know when to shut up.
Here it is, I’ve been untrusting of my best friend’s boyfriend’s intentions and creep-factor; meanwhile, I am just as weird as he is. Luckily for me, apparently I’m not the only one who scans the gate in order to choose a seat so wisely that it feels like a binding agreement. As I sit here, slumped back in my chair, eyes focused on my screen, lip-syncing with my head bobbing to Say Anything in my headphones, last year’s homecoming king just sat down next to me. He’s quick to take out his own MacBook, put on his headphones, and slowly fall into the same laidback posture that I’m in.
I wonder where this is going to lead…