Do you remember the screens from the early televisions? He certainly should. He is of that age. They were almost square but with rounded sides. Well that is the shape of his face. And it is sort of flat. Like Sponge Bob Square Pants on steroids. It is a large strange face with tiny features. His eyes are small and so close together that they only allow room for the narrowest of noses between them. Beneath that is a small slash of a mouth almost entirely devoid of lips.
He is wearing cream colored shorts, a tennis sweater and a grey jacket which suggests there is a matching pair of pants that he left at home. On his feet are a pair of sneakers with a large swoosh on the side. It is a dated look that only lasted a very short while because it was so difficult to pull off. He is a perfect example of that. It is also a rather incongruous look to be wearing at 11pm in San Francisco Airport on a bitterly cold night with rain coming down outside in sheets
He is standing at the counter of the Singapore Airlines lounge. He has brought with him an air of entitlement and his live in help that he later introduces as his husband. Having shown their boarding passes he asks where the first class lounge is. It is a very small lounge and he asks this in a very loud voice allowing everyone to hear
“I am sorry Sir, but there is only one lounge which is shared by first and business class passengers.”
His tiny bushy eyebrows levitate to a height that expresses incredulity, disappointment and disapproval all at the same time.
He sighs, and hands his carry on to the live in help and instructs him to find somewhere to sit. He heads over to the help your self bar where I happen to be pouring two large glasses of bubbles. Not both for me you understand. My live in help is with me. He does live in but he is not always a help, and at this precise moment is waiting expectantly for his champagne.
Sponge Bob picks up the bottle of vodka and looks at the label. He turns to me and says
“Can you believe it? All they have is Absolut. This is supposed to be one of the best airlines in the world”
Despite his disapproval, he pours himself a very large one over a small amount of ice, adds nothing else that might dilute it, raises his glass towards me and says
“ My name is Charles”
There is a pause when I wonder if I am supposed to curtsy.
I smile an acknowledgement and try to leave, but it is not that easy
“Where are you going “ he asks
“To India” I say, keeping the repartee to a minimum
“How interesting” he says in a voice that clearly suggests the opposite.
“We HAVE to get away every January” he continues “we can’t stand this time of year in Seattle.
We spin a globe each year and wherever it stops is where we go. Of course we always hope it will be somewhere new and exciting, but as we have already travelled almost everywhere, it is becoming harder to do. This year it is the Maldives. It will be our third trip there”
In five short clipped sentences he has imparted a lot of information, none of which I had asked for, and left me to assume even more.
I debate whether to mention that he could actually choose somewhere to go without the help of the spinning globe, and that would insure they could visit somewhere new. But it might be too radical an idea for him to absorb. It might also suggest that I am interested.
I keep quiet.
“Is Singapore on the way to India” he asks acknowledging how helpless he is without a globe.
“It is” I reply
“We are spending a few days there on the way to the Maldives” he continues “How long are you staying there”
“Eight hours” I say “it is a long layover”
Those short little eyebrows are on the move upwards again.
“Are you flying first class?” he asks in a voice that says he has already come to a conclusion about that.
“No” I say confirming his worst suspicions “we are in business class”
His eyebrows show no sign of coming back down. The air of entitlement is joined by an air of disapproval.
He adds more of the unacceptable vodka to his glass and returns to the live in help, without taking anything for him.