On a recent weekend trip to Minneapolis, I was trapped and reeled in by an unforeseen yet dangerous beast of the travel world: the talkative-airline-seat-mate.
Now, as a particularly egregious extrovert, I have to be very careful not to be sucked in by enemies such as the talkative seat mate because I lack a particular enzyme that allows me to end a conversation (for example, it takes me approximately 1.5 hours* to pick up our dog from the dogsitter, while it takes my husband 10 minutes....I just cannot stop talking!). So once the airline chat has commenced, I am committed to talking for the rest of the flight even if it is excruciating.
But this seat-mate was employing advanced, guerilla-warfare-like tactics of conversational entrapment, such as
- Upon arriving, over-enthusiastically announcing that this was her row.
- Sitting down and immediately asking me if it was better for me to have the seat arm up or down (and other questions that precluded "yes" or "no" answers). Inserting that she didn't care either way.
- Commenting on the number of babies surrounding us in the aisles and how cute they were. When I responded, "mmmhmmm", asking if I had ever seen so many babies on a plane.
- Taking out her phone to listen to her voicemail and then exclaiming "OH MY GOD" quite loudly and then looking at me.
- Engaging in verbal outbursts as she was reading including "WOW" and several machine-gun bursts of laughter.
But, alas, in the final hour, she outwitted me with the one simple question that is impossible to avoid and which releases a torrent of other possible questions: are you going home or going on a trip? Depleted of my powers, I gave in, telling her we were on our way to Minneapolis for a wedding, at which point she talked my ear off the rest of our journey about her children, their academic and athletic careers and personality quirks, her life as a teacher at a boarding school, her childhood, the health of her parents, their recent home remodel, her recent vacation schedule, and her personal opinions on everything from traffic in Boston to American culture to why Dartmouth is inbred.
I left the flight exhausted and irritated, feeling defeated by having given in to the beast in 22C and fully committed to investing in some sound-canceling head-phones and an eye mask.
*Note for MP: This is ACTUALLY, LITERALLY how long it takes me, and therefore NOT an exaggeration of any kind.