I used to travel quite a bit. Once I found the courage to explore the world as a naive sophomore in college, I never looked back.
As anyone who has ever traveled on an airplane knows, you spend a lot of time waiting. You wait to find the optimal flight before you book. You wait in traffic to get to the airport, depending on where it is. You wait to check your bags and/or visit the kiosk. You wait in line to go through security. You wait at the gate for boarding. You wait on the plane for takeoff. You wait for the stupid safety video to finish.
Sometimes the waiting leads to frustration, which in turn leads to line-cutting and other rule-breaking. At other times it leads to polite conversation with complete strangers you will never see again. On one particular occasion, when I was flying home from a trip to Colombia, the waiting led to both.
I thought I was too important to wait in the long, meandering check-in line, so I attempted to cut in front of a woman who was looking in the other direction. Let’s call this woman Cristina. When Cristina turned around, I was standing right beside her—not so discreetly—and she apologized and asked if she had cut in front of me by mistake. I did not have the heart to lie, so I told her that I was the one at fault. To my surprise she allowed me to keep my ill-gotten position in line. This bizarre moment led to the start of an equally bizarre (and short-lived) connection.
It was obvious from the ring on her finger that she was married, but for some reason she took me to lunch with her after we made it through security. (I can’t remember if we reunited by chance or if we stayed together the whole time.) Once we sat down to eat whatever quick, hot, and overpriced meal that was available, I was introduced to her mother and her sister, who for some reason were there, even though they weren’t on the same flight (don’t ask). As weird as all this was, it somehow did not feel weird at the time. I don’t remember being asked any awkward questions or glared at in an accusatory way. It’s easier to go with the flow when you’re operating on one hour of sleep—a fact that I strangely do recall.
At some point we realized we were on the same flight. I asked her if she wanted me to switch seats with another passenger so that we could sit together, and she consented. We talked for about an hour after takeoff about politics and other minutiae. I could see that she was getting sleepy. She was gradually slumping in her seat, and her eyes were threatening to close. She eventually gave in and said she was going to nap for a while. She closed her eyes, attempted (in vain) to get comfortable, and then opened them about ten seconds later to look at me.
“Can you put your arm around me so that I can sleep on your chest?”
I’ll never forget this request. The strangest question a stranger has ever asked me—and I’ve conversed with throngs of strangers in my life. I did what any normal person would do. I did what any normal man would do. I did what any normal man should do.
I said, “Sure.” And we both rested peacefully.
Once we landed, we went about our separate lives—I on to another city and she, presumably, back to her husband. I never saw her again.
What’s Next at The Good Men Project? Talk with others. Improve your relationships. Join our Love, Sex, Etc. Social Interest Group
RSVP for Love Sex Etc. Calls
Join the Sex, Love Etc. FACEBOOK GROUP here.
We think you’ll like our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to discuss, gain insights, build communities— and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join now!
Join The Good Men Project Community
All levels get to view The Good Men Project site AD-FREE. The $50 Platinum Level is an ALL-ACCESS PASS—join as many groups and classes as you want for the entire year. The $25 Gold Level gives you access to any ONE Social Interest Group and ONE Class–and other benefits listed below the form. Or…for $12, join as a Bronze Member and support our mission, and have a great ad-free viewing experience.
Register New Account
Please note: If you are already a writer/contributor at The Good Men Project, log in here before registering. (Request new password if needed).
ANNUAL PLATINUM membership ($50 per year) includes:
1. AN ALL ACCESS PASS — Join ANY and ALL of our weekly calls, Social Interest Groups, classes, workshops and private Facebook groups. We have at least one group phone call or online class every day of the week.
2. See the website with no ads when logged in!
3. MEMBER commenting badge.
ANNUAL GOLD membership ($25 per year) includes all the benefits above — but only ONE Weekly Social Interest Group and ONE class.
ANNUAL BRONZE membership ($12 per year) is great if you are not ready to join the full conversation but want to support our mission anyway. You’ll still get a BRONZE commenting badge, and you can pop into any of our weekly Friday Calls with the Publisher when you have time (Friday calls only). This is for people who believe—like we do—that this conversation about men and changing roles and goodness in the 21st century is one of the most important conversations you can have today.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
Shutterstock ID: 368895551