airplanes, airports, dating, first date, flights, flirting, Jessie Spano, marriage, Meg Ryan, rom com, romantic comedy, Saved By The Bell, single, singleness, Sleepless in Seattle, Southwest, Tom Hanks, You've Got Mail
I’ve been traveling a bit lately for both personal and work-related reasons. As much as I love life on the road, there are things about it that are just plain annoying. You know what I’m talking about, right? Wannabe-cop TSA agents, delayed-for-no-apparent-reason flights, airplane seats designed for Kristin Chenoweth, and non-existent airplane food and blankets. I mean, either turn the airplane temperature up by 20 degrees or give me a dang blanket already!
Now that airlines are charging for everything except breathing, one of the newly challenging aspects of flying is the no-holds-barred fight for overhead luggage space. No one wants to pay to check bags anymore, so there’s now not enough space for everyone’s over-packed carry-ons. That’s where Southwest comes in handy for me. Two free bags per ticketed passenger and I can stroll onto the flight with just my laptop and a medium coffee. Sigh. So nice!
Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch (literally). The trade-off for Southwest’s great luggage policy is that you have to stand in those annoying lines before boarding. Passengers are split into As and Bs and Cs — it’s a new generation of class warfare, I tell you! And on my recent flight to Austin, Texas, I forgot to check in exactly 24 hours ahead of time because, well, I have a life people. I ended up with B-56. B-56! It’s not as bad as being a C — but it puts you at risk of getting the dreaded middle seat.
So there I was, waiting at my B-56th spot in line at Reagan National Airport in DC, when my Meg Ryan moment happened.
“I forgot to check in early, too.”
His voice was deep, but friendly. I looked up and was pleasantly surprised by how cute he was. Adorable, really.
“Tell me about it. I checked in 21 hours ago and still got B-56.”
He laughed, even though I hadn’t said anything particularly funny. And his laugh was nothing short of dreamy.
We talked for nearly 30 minutes. I don’t know what the hold up was with boarding, but I didn’t really care. I was getting to know Matt*, and he was getting to know me. He was much taller than me. He had come straight from work and was wearing a really sharp suit, which is nice and all, but just gets me imagining what he looks like in jeans and a T-shirt. (Really good, in case you’re wondering.)
Matt has green eyes and light brown hair. He’s smart and witty, hitting back at every one of my jokes with an even better one. We were laughing pretty hard. He made me smile, and I could tell he was happy with that accomplishment. As we started to inch closer to the gate, he made a remark about hoping there were two seats open next to one another. My heart skipped a beat. But I played it cool. I think.
We talked about what we did for work, why we were headed to Austin, what we were reading, the last movies we each watched — it was like a Southwest-sponsored first date. On the jetway, he commented on the color of my eyes. I’m terrible at taking compliments, but I smiled and said thank you.
In those moments, I proved the scientific fact that women can think about 148 things at one time. Because everything I’ve mentioned so far was going through my mind while I was still holding a conversation with him and thinking about what he was thinking. It’s exhausting, really! I came to the conclusion that Matt was, indeed, flirting with me. The cute comments, the touching my arm, the compliments, the undivided attention, the invitation to sit next to him — the signs were clear. And I liked what I was reading.
We finally stepped onto the plane and we both scanned the rows to see if there were any pairs of seats available. Matt saw an empty bin space for his carry-on, so he stowed it. And that is the precise moment, my dear readers, that our romantic comedy took a terrible, tragic twist. Because as Matt — this perfect, handsome, funny man — was putting up his carry-on, I noticed something shiny on his left-hand ring finger.
Matt is married.
To say I was pissed is an understatement. I think Southwest was pissed, too, because there weren’t two seats available together. So I huffed and puffed my way to a window seat and settled in, noticing out of the corner of my eye that he found the window seat directly across the aisle. He made some comment over our fellow passengers about wanting to talk more about my writing or something, and I offered a fake, obliging laugh and turned to look out the window. It wasn’t long before teenage Ruth came out in full force, I pulled my hoodie over my head, threw on a pair of earphones, and lost myself in four hours of annoyed, frustrated pouting.
Tom Hanks would never.
He wouldn’t even think about it.
As a woman, I’m mad at the lack of respect and commitment Matt has for his wife. My heart breaks thinking that she doesn’t know her husband flirts with other women.
As a single woman, I’m mad at the dirtbags we have to deal with. It’s hard enough finding a good man to date without having to deal with this nonsense.
In my immediate rage, I mentioned to a couple female friends, in my best Jessie Spano voice, that “men are pigs!” What I heard back was surprisingly eye-opening. They all replied with, “Not all men.”
Even though deep down I know that, it’s hard to believe it sometimes, like when I’m standing outside Austin Airport watching Matt kiss his wife and hug his kids. The same Matt that just chased me down on the way to baggage claim to give me his business card. Really?
But my dad is a good guy. My brothers are good guys. My friends Dave and Patrick and Jonathan and Benny and Martin are all good guys. Their wives are lucky to have them. They would never flirt with another girl in a Southwest line. It wouldn’t even cross their minds.
So as frustrated as I was to come across such a douche bag, I can’t let myself spiral into a woe-is-me, there-are-no-good-men-left pity party, because it’s simply not true. And it’s not fair to the good men out there for me to even entertain those thoughts.
To my future Tom Hanks, sorry I doubted your existence. It’s not your fault that Matt acts the way he does. It’s not a reflection on you. I hope the next time I hear the inviting voice of a stranger while waiting in a Southwest line, it’s yours.
*Name changed to protect Matt’s wife. I hope he gets his act together and becomes a much better husband to her. She deserves it.