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Airplane rambling 3 April 2019

Posted by uggclogs in Life.

She listened with disdain as the women in front of her slowly became louder and more oblivious to their surroundings.

“God, I hate people,” she thought to herself as she strained to focus her thoughts on Mary Shelly’s words, but her brain kept wandering to listen to their inane conversation. She found herself frequently at a loss as to what the page was telling her, as her eyes had followed the straight, tight lines of prose, but her attention was elsewhere.

She retraced back a page, where some of the text seemed familiar.

A loud burst of laughter from the cackling group of women had her gritting her teeth, and she involuntarily rolled her eyes when they moved from wines to vodka orange.

“Please stop serving them,” I pleaded mentally at the flight attendant walking past, but he just stopped and gave them more tiny plastic cups filled with alcohol.

They cackled at an old episode of Friends, clearly already familiar with it. She’d never heard anyone laugh out loud at Friends, let alone the stale reruns 20 years later. Benign, but not exactly comedic genius. When the conversation turned to recent movies they had seen, it confirmed her suspicions they did not share her view on what constitutes good entertainment.

Despite herself, she found herself wondering who they were. Australians, obviously, based on their accents. On their way to Vietnam (as was everyone else on the plane). Other than that, it was her own judgemental mind filling in the gaps; probably not a hens night; too old. They were all similar in age, possibly a girls trip. They were clearly familiar with each other, seemed to know each other’s quirks, the kind of relaxed interaction learnt from years of friendship.

She guessed from Sydney. She wasn’t sure what made her think that, possibly the cross between the natural tans and the brazen way they were spending money – one of them bought a bag from inflight duty free, the price of which made her eyes water.

She also guessed Sydney by omission – they didn’t have the air Melbournians have, of vague self righteous importance in the world, the kind that comes with being passionately environmentally conscious, smug in a way that only someone with a bamboo toothbrush (ban all plastic) and a sour dough culture living on top of the fridge (named Magnus) while driving an enormous SUV can be.

They also seemed too full of themselves to be from Brisbane, she thought, thinking back to the city where people moved as if nothing really mattered, a hangover from the surrounding beach culture and the slow living of Queensland overall. People from Brisbane do not like people highnoting themselves – tall poppy syndrome in action.

This extends to the self in a way that means no one takes themselves very seriously or thinks themselves above others. These women clearly thought highly of themselves, and had a self important air that ruled Brisbane out.

Adelaidians? No.

Although they could be from Perth – new money (as most money in Australia is) and plenty to burn. And one of them was wearing double denim after all, she could be a country type turned city slicker. Although the mishmash of these women made me settle back on Sydney. One of them had the distinct feel of disappointment for not having been born into flower power glory and was making up for it by wearing billowing floral pants. The kind you might find on the northern beaches, where hippie attitudes meet very large amounts of money.

So one double denim, one new age hippie and a third she hadn’t seen but definitely heard. The latter had a deep, raspy voice, as if she was recovering from a cold or was a heavy smoker.

The thing that bothered her most about the women was the imposing way they were taking over the airwaves of the plane and the alcohol made them giggly. Everyone else was quiet, some were sleeping. A baby wailed up the front, but was quickly shushed by someone and went contently silent again. The man next to them across the aisle was trying to write a journal, but he also seemed distracted by them.

After a short lull, a gentle reprieve from idle chatter and the infernal cackle at nothing, one of the women worked out the call button. Duly pressed, she asked the flight attendant how much longer the flight would be.

She rolled my eyes – if you can’t work that one out, should you really be asking for what comes next, she thought.

“About 45 minutes, ma’am,” the flight attendant was the type of woman who oozed patience, professional and courteous. The kind of woman you couldn’t even imagine talking about passengers behind their backs, although all flight attendants do.
“Is there anything I can get you?”

More wine for two of them. Then when the flight attendant returned with the wine, the third one wanted another glass as well. Whether she’d been overlooked or changed her mind was unclear, but she resisted the urge to tell her she was a disgrace, instead trying to focus on Frankenstein.

Sisters. My god, they were sisters. She hadn’t picked it at all. One of them had asked the one sitting in the aisle (double denim) whether she still wasn’t talking to ‘Dad’.

She wasn’t, and apparently dad hadn’t noticed and it had been three months. That upset her. In a blessed turn of event, obviously dad had to be whispered about and the conversation went from loud abandon to drunken hissing. Feeling uncharitable, she thought the man might quite enjoy being out of favour with such a miserable bunch of women, even if it was just for a very short time.

It was quite the reprieve to have them not talk to each other for a bit.

She picked her book back up and the guy next to them found renewed fervour in his writing. They were going in for landing, and she felt relief at the prospect of getting away from the rabble.

A loud squeal followed by the smell of white wine told her one of them had spilled the content of her glass all over at least two of them. The cabin crew was moving through the cabin to prepare for landing and double denim declared “excuse me, am I ever going to get my glass of wine please!?”

The flight attendant clarified “white wine? Two glasses?”

“And a glass of red please!” The one in the window seat piped up far too loudly.

In the middle of landing, double denim got up to go the the bathroom revealing a set of Birkenstocks with very large golden buckles that made her reevaluate whether they were from Sydney after all. Double denim overshot the bathroom and crashed heavily into the door frame with her shoulder. The alcohol made her stagger and flout the fasten seatbelt sign, but none of the flight attendants seemed to care, much to her chagrin. She wanted these sisters to be put in their place, humiliated into compliance.

After landing, she was taking in the sights around Hoan Kiem lake, when to her horror she spotted the three sisters sticking out like drunken sore thumbs in the middle of a crowd of Vietnamese selling wares and services, positively mobbed and looking a bit overwhelmed. She quickly ducked around the corner out of sight to head away, hoping to never encounter them again.


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