I was already seated when I saw them enter the plane. They made an unusual threesome. She was in her mid-forties and clearly a wealthy Orange County woman on her way home from a trip to Chicago. Her, blatantly spoiled, tween daughter accompanied her. The tween daughter had diamonds on. Real diamonds for a (maybe) 12 year old. The Old Man followed behind them, but it was clear he was traveling with them. He must have been in his mid-eighties and despite his feebleness he carried with him an air of privilege.
She stopped at the row of seats behind me. She told the man seated on the aisle that she'd like him to move so the three of them could sit together. She pointed to the middle seat next to me and told him he could take it instead. The man looked at her incredulously and politely refused to give up his assigned aisle seat. She huffed a few times and then she and her daughter took their seats adjacent to him.
The Old Man was left standing in the aisle. Suddenly she realized he didn't know where to be seated and she began barking orders at him. When it became clear he should be seated next to me I got up to allow him in. He gave me a sheepish smile as he sat down.
I have a weakness for old men. There is something about an old man that makes my heart turn all soft and squishy. I wanted to like him. I knew I would like him.
I was wrong.
Almost immediately The Old Man was leaning into me. He was not a big man, but his seat alone didn't satisfy him. He took over the armrest between us and encroached on my minimal leg space. His body, although frail, seemed to fill at least half of my seat. I found myself leaning out into the aisle just to escape his touch.
Moments after take-off he fell asleep. He leaned more heavily against me and there was no escaping him now. I sighed. I was exhausted. I wouldn't mind dozing off myself but now I had The Old Man sleeping on my shoulder. I didn't have the heart to disturb him. I knew I would never sleep.
From behind me I could hear the woman and girl who accompanied him. They were loud. Their conversation was shallow. They typified all the personality traits I don't care for in Orange County and none of the positive ones.
I glanced down at The Old Man and my heart began to pound. His mouth had fallen open and his face was pale. He didn't appear to be breathing.
"Omigod he's dead!" I thought.
For a few heart-pounding moments I was convinced of it. I had a dead man on my shoulder and OhDearGawdWhatDoIDoNow?
I had a dead man on my shoulder and oddly enough, the lyrics to Funeral for a Friend immediately began running through my head.
He snorted. His body jerked. He snorted again.
He was alive!
It must have taken a good ten minutes for my heart rate to slow back down from the scare.
I glanced at The Old Man again and to my horror a strand of drool was hanging from his mouth. It was hanging and it was getting longer as it threatened to eventually reach, or perhaps suddenly drop, onto my clothes.
The Old Man made a gurgling sound deep in his throat and the stream of drool lengthened by a couple more centimeters.
I gagged. The snorting, the gurgling, and the drool had all become far too much for me. I tried to focus on something else. I reminded myself I love old men. I tried to think about the hottest man I'd seen over the weekend as a distraction. It didn't work. I gagged again.
I tried to be gentle (so as not to make the drool fall!) as I gently removed his head from my shoulder and his slouching body from my side. I pushed him back into his own seat and hoped his body would fall against the man in the window seat.
A moment later he awoke with a start. He sucked up the drool hanging from his mouth with a loud slurping noise. I averted my glance because the noises alone threatened to make me puke. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and began blotting at his drool covered chin.
I grimaced. I stared straight ahead. I could feel his eyes studying me, but I pretended not to notice.
Fifteen minutes later he was asleep on me again. This time his head began on my shoulder but gradually slipped down towards my breast. His hand fell from the armrest onto my lap. A few more minutes went by and his head fell lower on my chest. I began to get suspicious.
I noticed The Old Man's breathing was nothing like it had been earlier when he slept. I began questioning whether he was asleep at all. Then his hand moved ever so slightly. It was almost as if it crept in slow motion across my leg.
I glanced at The Old Man's face. And that is when I saw … just a glimmer of a smile on his face.
In less than a second I grabbed his hand and thrust it off of me. I roughly shoved him completely off of me and back into his own seat.
He gave me a startled and irritated glare.
Now it was my turn to lean into him. I got right in his face and I said, "Stay in your own seat and don't you dare touch me again!"
© Twenty Four At Heart