When I was 13, my parents and I flew back to Kansas City to visit some friends who used to be our next-door neighbors here in Anaheim. I think I’d only been on one trip before that where I actually flew somewhere, so flying was still a big thing to me. I was careful to pick out my airline best which, at the time, meant I made sure my gnarly short hair was as awesome as possible. [Read: it was as stiff as a cinder block thanks to a vat of LA Looks hair gel, and my outfit was a knee-length t-shirt adorned with puffy paint, worn — with a knot at the waist — with a rad pair of acid-washed jean shorts.]
I can’t remember if I wore one of my many shirts that I’d made back in the day, or if it was specifically the one with the retarded flamingo. (I was convinced that, when balancing on one leg, the flamingo’s other leg was bent at a right angle — with the foot at the end of the bent leg pointing towards its beak. This, my friends, is not the case. I wore that shirt once before being mocked to the point where I was emotionally scarred for life. It might’ve been on that flight.) All that said, I know for a fact there was some serious puffy paint action of some sort long about row 21.
But I digress.
On the flight home, my parents and I were split up. They were in the middle and aisle seats somewhere around row 13, while I was across the aisle and behind them in row 18-ish. I was seated next to a young girl about 5 or 6 years old, and a person that I assumed was her mother was sitting by the window.
(Window hog. The nerve!)
Knowing that I was a lover of the window even before I had many flights under my belt, I found it beyond bizarre that she kept it shut the whole time. What was even more strange is that she apparently had the urge to see oooooooonly the tiniest slice of land every now and again, and she’d open the window shade about an inch then — whenever her daughter (?) or I would look over with excitement, thinking she was going to open it all the way — she’d slam it shut and go back to reading what I ascertained was a script of some sort.
I decided to get comfortable and settled into Seat D with my super rad Sony Walkman. You know you all remember it — they were those things that played old school cassette tapes and, whenever the battery would start to get a little low, the music slowed ever so slightly, and the music got reeeeeeaaaaaalllllllllllyyyyy mmmeeeeeeelllllllllloooooooooooowwww.
My brother was (and still is, natch) seven years older, so at the time he was into uber-mature dude music like Metallica and Pink Floyd and, thus, that’s what happened to be on the tape I was listening to. Whatever he liked, I liked. To this day, I’m still that person who will sing loudly in her car without any regard for the windows being down (usually 80s hair metal), and I still think that someday I’ll grow up and be a rock star.
[Digital high-five to the Saatchi band. Love y’all!]
I must’ve been really enjoying the music (or maybe it was just because I, you know, existed) because I could feel her scoffishness (not a word, I’m aware) towards me. As we began our descent into LAX, I decided I was going to look out the window come hell or high water.
I removed my headphones. My stiff, short hair and I politely leaned over.
“Excuse me, would you mind opening the window shade?” I asked the lady.
She’d slammed her script down on the seat back table in front of her and, after squaring up and directly facing me, looked me straight in the eye.
“Yes, I do mind, and I’ll tell you why,” she said.
“Um, alright…” I replied.
A dramatic pause and a long, equally dramatic inhale (from her) filled our row.
“I think you’re weird,” she said.
Alright, cool. I do, too. Only I think she thought it would offend me.
Was it my drumming o’ the fingers on the table in front of me as I immersed myself in The Wall? Or could she hear the Metallica through my headphones and therefore feared what her child (?) was able to hear more clearly?
Two can play at this game. She didn’t know that I was traveling with my own crew.
I hollered up to my mom and dad.
“Hey!” I yelled.
My mom and dad prairie-dogged over their seat backs and turned around. I motioned to the broad (yes, broad – it’s OK to use this word if you’re of the female gender) next to me.
“She thinks I’m weird!” as I motioned toward the broad by the window.
My mom’s fuse was lit. She was ready to blow at any minute.
We landed, and my mom was the human equivalent of a chicken who was going to wield its bloodthirsty beak at anything that crossed its path. Or that didn’t. She was lookin’ for a fight regardless.
Disclaimer: for all who know my mom, you know this isn’t the case.
…or is it? Muahahaha…
I think she penned the lady in to the back of the plane as everyone else was existing. In my mind, I like to think that the penning was for a good half-hour. In reality, it was probably for, like, eight seconds.
Tonight? I’m thankful for my beak-wielding mom, for the lady who thought I was weird (Pot? Meet kettle.) even though she was the one so intently studying her important script from the comfort of — you know — coach class, and for the trip that will forever live in my mind as one of the best stories ever.
Yeah, I’m “weird.”
So are you.
And you, and you, and you.
Newsflash: we’re all supposedly “weird” because we’re not all alike. But those who think someone else is weird probably lack the appreciation to realize that we all make up the entire rainbow full of beautiful colors. Conversely, those who skew towards thinking we’re all “unique” are the ones who follow that rainbow and know it leads somewhere amazing — so long as you don’t judge, don’t think you’re “better than” and you let others do their own thing. At the end of the day, it all adds up — if not for you personally, it still adds up to a great thing for humanity as a whole. And tonight I’m thankful for it all, because who wants to live in a world of gray?
Weird? Damn straight. Thanks, lady.