Monday, March 4, 2013

Time to Flirt and Time to Abstain from Flirting

Even before our plane landed, I knew that I was late for my next flight. A horrible storm caught the airplane at the moment of takeoff, and we had to sit inside for an hour-and-a-half. When I finally made it to Frankfurt, my plane to Dallas was already gone. The Delta representative apologized, making another offer:
“Our next flight to Dallas is tomorrow morning, but we can take you to a hotel. Ah, you do not have a transit visa this time. Sorry about that! Let me see… Wait a second, if it is OK with you, I could transfer you to another airline. A Lufthansa flight leaves in 15 minutes. Do you think you can make it? I am afraid, you have to run to make it.”
“Oh, of course!” All I wanted was to get on the plane and fall asleep. I was dead tired. “Just a minute,” – the lady’s fingers danced something incredibly fast on the keyboard. “I am very sorry, but they have only first class available.”
“No, no! I do not have money for first class…” – my gestures said more than I was able to express with words. But the lady didn’t let me finish. “It is on us. No cost to you.”
I grabbed my boarding pass and my bags and took off, but under-estimated the distance and the weight of my winter clothes. My winter boots, thick sweater, and wool pants slowed me down. That was not a walk - it was a marathon! Finally, I was in the airplane, and the flight attendant with a big smile took me to my seat: a luxury leather front seat with lots of legroom. It was not a dream! I got the front seat! Trying to catch my breath with a dry mouth, I noticed sparkling lights on a plastic panel surface in front of me. I looked up and down and found nothing unusual. Then I looked to the right and saw the most delicate slim long fingers with a few huge diamond rings. The fingers seemed to have a life on their own - they seemed restless, playing an invisible keyboard. I glanced at my neighbor and noticed the apparent satisfaction on the man’s face. Wow! He loved his diamonds! “Hi, I am Nick. May I ask your name?”
“Lydia.” I tried not to show that I was out of breath. I needed to use the restroom, not having any opportunity to stop since I arrived to Frankfurt.
“Ligia? Where are you going?” My neighbor leaned his torso toward me, in a clearly pursuing manner.
“Lydia.” I was too tired to argue, but I was not “Ligia” either.
“Ah, Linda!” I knew too well already from my previous experience that unless I spell my name, he would call me anything but my name, but I gave up for the moment.
We didn’t take off yet, but the flight attendant began serving drinks. My lips wanted a drink, but my bladder couldn’t take any more fluids. All I wanted was to excuse myself and run to the restroom. Gosh, I really had to go; I was about to burst.
Finally, I was on my way to the first-class facility.  To my surprise, the first class restroom was no bigger than the regular restroom in the economy class - maybe a little cleaner. What do people even pay money for, then? My intent was to come back to my seat as fast as I could – we Russians are not as free as Americans when it comes to restroom usage. We usually mask our intentions extremely well and try to make our visit as brief as possible that people won’t think that we used the facility for something else other than washing hands and checking makeup – we had to be decent.
I was about to finish my business when I noticed water on the black floor that came from nowhere.
“Hmm, that could be a dangerous leak.” I thought, but couldn’t do much before I finished. Observing the growing spot, I tried to make a decision, “That is never a good sign when the water is leaking, but in the airplane?! This is not safe! Is it an emergency? Should I return to my seat? Should I call a flight attendant?” I started thinking about pushing the red button for help, but first I got up on the stool because I didn’t want to ruin my leather boots. 
“O-o-p-s!” To my horror I realized that some stupid left the stool covered: I didn’t check the lid…
“Crazy people!... Oh, my… how did I do this - I had never lifted up the lid… but wait, if the stool was covered… then what I thought was water was… oh, no!!!”
I stepped down from the stool, trying to suppress my hysterical laughter and to be as quiet as I could, bending my body in half.
“So what?! I can clean! I am Russian!” I pulled up my pants and sleeves. I felt like an astronaut, having an emergency in an unthinkably limited space. At least, gravity was on my side. I opened all closet doors in the restroom to find something like a piece of cloth that I could use to stop the flooding. When finished, I looked around with satisfaction: the restroom looked even shinier. I should be hired by Lufthansa and become rich!
With that thought and a huge smile, I came back to my seat like nothing happened. I glanced at my reflection in the mirror before leaving the restroom: my face was pink after a long run from one terminal to another and then the nicely-execute cleanup job in the restroom. Nick was restless, waiting. He already got another drink.
“I’m coming home from skiing in one of the Alps’ resorts. Have you been there? Do you want to go one day?”
As soon as I heard my neighbor’s soft melting voice, I immediately felt doomed. At first, the long flight overseas promised to be so unexpectedly first-class comfortable, but now I knew I would not be able to get any sleep. Nick’s gestures became even more frequent, splashing twinkling lights all around us. I moved deeper into my chair and prepared myself to sleep with my eyes open, mesmerized how easy some men could be. I began meditating on the subject of toilet lids, letting Nick talk. In Russia, we do not put toilet lids down. Until recently, we didn’t even have lids, just a seat. I realized that I didn’t have to be apologetic for flooding the restroom; I simply didn’t know that I had to check the seat first.
And now, Nick! Why do I even have to talk to him? I didn’t have to be friendly with the first man I met on the plane only because of my gratitude for a first-class seat. I owed nothing to him!
“Nick, I am sorry. I am too tired to talk. I had a long day.” I didn’t have to be polite and keep my eyes open. I earned my first-class sleep cleaning the restroom.

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