I try to make conversation with the furred woman who takes too long to arrange herself to my right in the window seat next to me, I fail. I reach down to the oversized bag between my feet with boots too big for no leg room economy seats and grab the toe of her shoe instead. I bristle. I cling desperately to the invisible yet definitive wall that should remain firmly intact between the window and aisle seat of this tiny commuter plane, separating me from whomever might have had the good fortune to sit beside me, as someone who keeps to my side of the divide.
When she falls asleep, her right leg crossed over her left slides close enough towards me to play obliviously between my ankles, and her loud red coat draped over her cold crossed arms floats over the arm rest that I have already secured in a downward position before I ever laid eyes on her, admittedly more for my own privacy than for mandated safety precautions. My eyes are wandering when a coat corner pokes my arm and I’m sure she wants to use the restroom, of course (of course!) until I glance over annoyedly and realize she has only just woken from her quite comfortable window leaning nap, has no idea where she is, and sees no need to apologize for her sprawl.
Quite to the contrary, this young woman with her telling Southern twang looks at me like she knows me, a dreamy smile searching for familiarity like we have spent a curled night together at a swanky hotel wherever she’s headed, I don’t know, she wouldn’t tell me when I first dared ask. Her dream has ended but her coat is draped with ease over the armrest which she has completely covered with her elbow and she makes no move to rearrange it. It takes patience and the opportune moment for me to snatch my rightful armrest turn while she twitches pouring the Diet Coke she requested all too loudly with an altitude ear shout.
My distaste increases when she eagerly removes seat 7D’s infected edition of Sky Mall magazine from the seat pocket in front of her and drapes the first few pages with patience over page 57 of my copy of The Paris Review. I am a snob. I am a snob when she sits reading weight loss advertisements for minutes and minutes because she is convinced they are editorials and is the Jillian Michaels type, it seems, as her finger traces figure outlines and vitamin price points. When she notices either that she is being sold something or that what she is being sold probably won’t solve her insecurities, she begins to flip. Flip. Flip. She flips the flimsy pages of that magazine like it’s a race, and with each flip the whole fiasco inches closer and closer to my lap, onto my lap tray, across my Paris Review. For heaven’s sake. The Paris Review.
With her plated watch and slick red manicure gripping the gripping pages of sales scams and Hammacher Schlemmer products no one will ever need and bacon towels that everyone secretly wants, wrist resting happily on my tray table, I quite literally want to scream. The flight attendants are too polite and otherwise occupied to notice my sudden irritability. My nervous demeanor. My moving and shifting and shady anxiety. I could have internal brain hemorrhaging right now, I could be plotting world demise, but really I’m just overreacting to the brat beside me. I feel violated. The high price of an airplane seat today entitles me to that divide, doesn’t it? Keep to yourself. Don’t bother me. Unless you are kind or happen to be a devastatingly handsome foreign stranger who would like to invite me to your getaway in Havana for a weekend of drunken revelry... Oh, excuse me, she’d like to use the restroom now.
Chloe Olewitz is a writer based out of New York and Atlanta who can not sit still for too long. She is looking forward to her May 2013 graduation from Emory University in order to pursue a writing life.