If You Really Want to Hear About It
Now the first thing I noticed when I sat down on the plane is that the lady behind me had a baby that just wouldn’t quit crying. I don’t know what was making it be so noisy, and I guess the baby probably didn’t either, but it just wouldn’t shut up. And I know it’s just a baby so it’s not really responsible, but to tell you the truth I really just would have killed that thing to get it to shut up. I even thought about how I’d do it, too. No kidding. I actually thought it through. First, I’d wait until the lady had to use the bathroom. Then I’d just turn around, reach my hand through that space between the seats, and just grab hold of its neck real tight until it died. And you’re probably thinking, well, wouldn’t the person in the seat beside the lady stop me? But the way I see it is he’s probably just as happy as me for that goddamn baby to shut up.
The thing of it was that even though her kid was a real pain, the mom sure was real good-looking. And I guess it’s weird to think of a kid’s mom as even a little bit sexy, but she really did it for me. She really did. I looked at her hand to see if she had a ring. You know, to see if she was married and all. She did, and I guess it was alright, but you know, that doesn’t mean anything anymore. I once read in a magazine that sometimes women who aren’t even married go around with rings on their fingers, just so guys’ll think they’re married and won’t bug ‘em. I figure that’s a fine way to act if you want to end up an old maid. And I don’t know if this lady was married or if she wasn’t, but it sure is a hell of a thing to do to your wife, making her fly across the country all by herself and her baby. A hell of a thing to do.
Before I could think about it more, I noticed there was a guy standing beside me in the aisle. He was taking his ticket out of his pocket and comparing it to the seat numbers in front of him, like he couldn’t believe it. Like he couldn’t believe that he got stuck sitting beside boring old me for three hours. Like he would rather share his seat with some pretty young girl, or maybe even the lady behind me. I shouldn’t have done it, but I looked up and him and we made eye contact, and suddenly he had this big huge smile across his face, like he’d just won the lotto. Boy, what a real phony he was. He even had on this real crumby pair of sunglasses, like he expected it to be sunny inside the airplane! He sat down beside me and introduced himself, said his name was Larry Hooper. Boy, what a name. Me, I said my name was Jack Reynolds. Then he asked me what I was doing flying into Saskatoon, as if he really cared. He was such a phony though, you could tell he only asked because he thought he had to. I told him that I was coming back from school early because my sister’s new baby was sick and might die. The second I said it I knew I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t really go back. Suddenly his phony smile was replaced with a real sincere frown and he said he was sorry, and you know, for a moment I actually believed it. But, nah, I figure if you can’t smile for real, why should you be able to frown for real? The rest of the flight he talked about his business, something about sports equipment. Said he was going into town for a trade show. I didn’t ask him for any of this stuff, he just told me. You’d figure if he thought for real that my baby niece was dying that he wouldn’t talk so much about himself, but he did. It just about killed me, the way he wouldn’t shut up about sports equipment, it really did.
Come to think of it, Larry reminded me a lot of this one kid I knew back in school, Alan Parker. The other kids just called him “Parker”, but I was the only one who called him “Al”. Anyway, the thing that reminded me of Al was that he could sometimes be just as phony as this guy sitting next to me. Sometimes it really cracked me up the way nobody else but me seemed to notice it, but other times I just got so mad I could have punched him. I really could. One day I was playing Al for marbles, and everyone was watching. I almost had both our marbles sunk, but I sneezed and my hand brushed against the marble. It didn’t move, but Al said it was his turn anyway and he sunk the last one. Now nobody said anything about that, and they just let the crook walk away with my marbles! Nobody said anything because they all thought Al was the greatest, nicest, most sincere guy they ever met, and would never steal a guy’s marbles. I was the only guy there who had him figured out, right from day one. No kidding.
So the plane lands and we get off, and Larry Hooper is out the door before you know it. No goodbye, no good luck. Nothing. Goes to show what a phony he turned out to be, I guess. Even if I hated the guy so damned much, at least I would have said goodbye if he’d let me. Still, there was the lady behind me and her baby hadn’t cried at all since takeoff, so I guess she was alright after all. While we were waiting around for our bags, I went up to her and asked her her baby’s name, and if it was a boy or a girl. I hope she didn’t get offended by that last question. It’s just that when babies are that young, I sometimes can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl unless you go by the colour of their clothes, and even that nowadays doesn’t always work. She said her baby’s name was Madigan. Madigan. Boy, that almost killed me right there. Where do people get these names for their babies nowadays? Anyway, I obviously didn’t say anything like that to her. I just said it was a really pretty name. I almost felt like puking when I realized I was being as phony to her as Larry Hooper was, but then I figured that she probably couldn’t even tell. Thought I was being the most kindest, nicest guy in town to her and her crumby baby. By this point I think I was being pretty suave, not coming on too strong, just being casual. And confident. Girls like it when you’re confident. I think that’s because sometimes girls – even the real pretty ones – don’t have much confidence, so they like to be with guys who do. Anyway, after a few minutes of chit chat, I asked if she wanted to go have a drink. She asked a question, as if she didn’t understand what I meant and I just asked again if she wanted to go out for a drink just us right then. There’s even a bar right in the airport if she didn’t want to go too far. I said she could bring the baby with her, even. Well, she started getting all funny and said some stuff about how it’s early and she already has someone waiting to pick her up. That really cracked me up right there because if she had someone waiting for her, then they’d be at the airport already. Our flight was even late, so it’s not like you could say the person waiting for her didn’t have enough time to get to the airport yet. Anyway, our bags started coming out and luckily mine was the third one. Usually I have to wait until right near the end to get my bags, but not this time. That really gets me mad sometimes the way that works out. I took it and said goodbye to her and Madigan and walked out into the parking lot.
The drive home was really depressing. It always is. Even though it’s 600 Km, you hardly pass through any towns with any people at all. It just depresses me so much thinking about all these little towns with a few dozen people in them, the way I can’t even stand to drive through them and these people live their lives there. Goddamn it, it really depresses the hell out of me, especially when you think about all the people who have died right on the same road I was driving, probably not even their fault half the time. Maybe the oncoming guy hits a snowbank by accident and swerves right into them, or maybe the weather’s just awful. God, that really got to me, thinking about dying and it’s not even your fault.Anyway, there’s not much to talk about there. After six hours, I finally got home. But stupid me, I forgot before I left to tell the maintenance guy that I was coming home on Saturday, instead of Sunday! I get to my door and there’s a goddamn piece of wood drilled over the frame. What a way to live, having to board up your house if you leave town for more than two days. What a way to live. I guess it’s my own fault though, not telling the maintenance guy what day I was coming home at. It’s not like I didn’t know before I left. My mom says that a lot, that I forget important things like that. One time, to get into this fancy school to get my education degree in, I forgot to send the right kind of cheque. Then, the day before it’s due, this school phones my parents up to tell them they need my money! So my dad had to drive a 4-hour round-trip to the school to get my cheque in on time, and on the way the car even broke down! I’m not even joking. The whole wheel axle fell right in two or something. To tell you the truth, I’m not too good at cars. And to top it all off, the school was mostly filled with phonies anyway. Anyway, I guess it’s because of stuff like that and the door thing that my mom is always saying that I forget important things.