Diane’s Husband, Champion Seat Mate

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I sat next to a fidgety businessman on my connecting flight to Chicago this afternoon. He looked exactly like Jerry Lewis in his late thirties/early forties, except he lacked Lewis’ dimpled chin. I could tell he was nervous. He was in the bathroom during boarding and came out after everyone was seated, sat down, and wiped his clammy looking forehead. He mumbled a few times, which made me uncomfortable, unsure to whom he was speaking. The captain came on and announced that we were clear for take off and the man next to me muttered “Oh boy.” Which I thought nothing of, looking out the window as we barreled down the runway. I like to try to predict the exact moment we lift. When we did, the man yelped, “OH GOD, OH GOD, OH GOOOD!” and reached under his seat and pulled out a ridiculous pointy toboggan and put it on, and then gripped his seat handles, totally petrified. I’m sure I just stared but everyone else seemed to ignore him. When we leveled out, he got a Kleenex and wiped his face. I asked him if he was okay and he smiled and pulled a plum out of his jacket pocket “Yeah. I hate planes. Would you like a plum?” I told him I was good and he slurp ate three plums the remainder of the flight and compulsively checked the time. He didn’t yell or grab his seat during descent but he called his wife after we taxied and I overheard him say, “I was a champ, Diane. A champ.” I imagine this is the sort of life Bob Wiley would be living were he real. (“I’m flying! I’m flying! I’m a pilot, I fly! Ahoy!”)

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