The nun, her face colorless and prune-like, picked her nose and wiped her boogered finger on the sleeve of her billowing black habit. Shocked and repulsed by what I had seen, I looked away.
My gaze flew around the cavernous room, looking for a safe place to land, a place devoid of nose-picking nuns. My attention flitted from one person to another. I zeroed in on a flash of activity, life in the form of a young Mexican father bouncing a baby boy on his lap. The child cooed happily. His father lifted him in the air over his head and pretended the boy was an airplane. The little guy giggled with glee. How sweet, I thought. It was then I noticed the Dad’s crotch. He had an erection, hopefully triggered by the baby’s innocent bouncing. Sweet, mixed with weird, I corrected my thought and looked away.
An elderly woman sitting in a wheelchair at the end of the row of chairs stared into the distance as if she did not know where she was or why she was there. A young woman, maybe a grand-daughter or hired care-giver, sat next to her, hypnotized by her cell phone, unaware the aged woman was wetting her floral-pattern pants as I watched. I looked away.
A young skateboarder sat with his Vans-covered feet on his well-worn skateboard. His countenance was lifeless, dead. He wore skinny jeans so tight observers could see his legs were thinner than the wires leading from his purple earbuds to the smart phone in his hand. His head bobbed to rhythms dancing in his ears. An apparent change in beat sparked a side-to-side back-and-forth sliding of the board until it soared out of control into the shins of a six or seven year-old girl standing several seats away. The girl began to cry…no, wail…in unexpected pain. Her young mother pulled the child into her arms, comforting her, soothing her, and glared at the boy who got up with the speed of thick ketchup being poured from a Heinz bottle. He ambled toward the crying girl, his head still bobbing to his all-important tunes, reached down, and picked up his skateboard. Without looking at the girl or her mother, he mumbled an insincere, “Sorry.” in Spanish. I looked away, disgusted.
What a punk, I thought. What an asshole.
The sound of stomping storm trooper boots caught my attention. A middle-age woman barged around the line of chairs, an angry scowl telegraphing her mood to the world. “Fuck!” she snapped as she sat down. She had a denim ankle-length skirt, tie-dye T-shirt, and tattoos covering both forearms. She had poorly plaited graying dreadlocks and a nose ring. “Goddam airline!” she spat with vitriol. Her scowl cased the room, landing on me. Frightened, I looked away. That bitch is crazy! I thought.
The young woman with the wheelchair-bound woman, looked up, and wrinkled her nose as if she smelled something foul. “Oh, Maria, what did you do?” she asked in Spanish. Her words were coated in concern and caring. She stood, gathered their belongings, and wheeled her charge to the bathroom.
Another skateboarder appeared behind the rows of chairs. He was carrying his board on his hip. He scanned the room and then jetted toward the other young man. He plopped down next to him, took his hand in his, and rested his head on the rude dude’s shoulder. The skaterboy who had been sitting listening to music, pulled the mini-speakers out of his ears, turned to his friend, said something while looking toward the little girl and her mother, and began crying. The new arrival squeezed the crying skater’s hand, stood, and approached the mother and her still whimpering child. I leaned forward to eavesdrop. All I heard were “father died yesterday” in Spanish and then watched the young woman spring toward the sobbing young man, crouch down, pull him into a tender hug, and say something in his ear. The girl, standing next to her mother, stopped crying, knelt, and hugged the boy’s thin legs.
A buzzy PA system voice interrupted the touching moment and announced that AeroMax Airlines Flight 111 to Guadalajara was boarding. All the passengers I had been watching and judging reached down, picked up their luggage, and rose to line up in front of the gate. I leaped up and swished past them to the head of the line.
The first to board the small two-seat by two-seat plane through its rear door, I found my window seat within moments. The skateboarders slid into the seats across the aisle from me, the one who had lost his father, gazing out the window with dead eyes. His partner reached over and rested his hand on his friend’s forearm.
The young Mexican father, carrying his son, stopped at my row and faced me as if he were going to sit. I looked at his crotch hoping he still had an erection. Just as I realized he didn’t, he sidled forward a bit and moved into the row in front of me. The young boy looked over his father’s shoulder at me as if he had never seen a gringo before.
The elderly wheelchair woman, wearing fresh burgundy sweatpants, hobbled down the narrow aisle, her elbows supported by the young aide, and sat in the first row. Her helper plopped exhausted next to her.
In back of me, I heard a woman’s voice snap, “Fucking aisle seat!”
The nun, with her pale, wrinkled face, arrived and sat next to me, her booger-smeared habit sleeve rubbing against my lilac tutu. She smirked with judgment at my feminine ballet garb as if I were weird or disgusting, as if I were the problem passenger. She then looked away.