The Man Who

He had the body type of a man who drinks too much coke. I look longing down the aisle, scanning the seats for a half empty row, or ideally an empty seat next to a gorgeous blonde, I would happily settle for a little old lady. Alas not a space in sight, I double checked my seat number before settling in for the long haul. I squeeze glumly past the large man into the window seat and stare longingly out of the port hole like window. I was unfortunate enough to be paired with him, his mother and his left ham of an arm which spilled into my seat. To his credit, he did apologise, muttering some gripe over the issue to the ever shrinking seats on board aircraft.

Wheels off the ground, I leave Africa behind. The plane levels and not a moment after the seat belt sign turns off with a ping, he has summoned the air hostess over and ordered two cans of coke – only reinforcing my first impression. Though in his defence they do come in unnecessarily small cans. He is the epitome of the person that no one wishes to be sat next to on a flight; a chatter, an eater and a sweater. Row 29 is black listed amongst the cabin crew, branded as busybodies and pesterers for they are summoned repeatedly: “can I have another croissant ?” “My seat doesn’t lean back far enough,” “the seat in front is leaning back too far, “croissant?!” “my mother needs the toilet” “can you take my rubbish away?” “coke please,” On and on it goes.

Our arms unable to avoid each other clammily stick to each other like a cheap leather sofa. It’s not the type of joining of the flesh that I’m after. He is as hairy as a Greek, though I’m sure I shouldn’t point this out for as a Turk it would be a tad offensive.

Somewhere is an airline which only accommodates quietly spoken beautiful people; if you have been on it you know who you are and have taken a vow of silence. If, like me, it alludes you, you are one of the norms. We do chat and he is nice enough but the head phones go in so as to suggest that I am not open for business. Tap tap on my shoulder, I roll my eyes, and off he goes again, a monologue on how the service isn’t to standard. I give short answers with as few a syllable as possible, a tad contrite perhaps. I’m told that for an Englishman I have very good English. Thank god, for as a public school boy I was worried that I was talking gibberish all the time.

He is a thirty nine year old mummy’s boy, at one point he nuzzles down on his elderly mother’s shoulder as she strokes his hair. As he sleeps his jowls wobble as he lets out the occasional choke or two. I can just imagine them at home in Melbourne in a small house eating TV dinners together beneath a home knitted quilt blanket, his mother no doubt pampering his every need. You can imagine my shock when he tells me that he is single but still hopes to meet the right lady. I am actually shocked when after saying “it’s tough, but there are women out there for men like us.” In what world am I akin to an obese forty year old mummy’s boy?! He already has a woman: his mother.

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