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Say Again?
Wednesday, 2004 December 22 - 12:19 am
A story about the near future (if we allow people to use cell phones on airplanes).

"Hello Tina? It's Julie! OHMIGOD, guess where I am. No, guess. I'M ON AN AIRPLANE! I'm probably flying above you right now!"

Julie was in seat 16A, and I was in 16C. This was one of those little cramped planes that only had two seats on the left side of the aisle, so there was no 16B. That put Julie's mouth about fourteen inches away from my left ear. She was one of a half dozen people whose cell phones blipped on as soon as the captain's announcement came, indicating that it was "now safe to use portable electronic equipment, including cellular telephones". Ah, that new FAA regulation... how wonderful.

From the excited tone in her voice, I would have guessed her to be a teenager. But looking at her face, I noticed the layers of makeup applied in a futile effort to disguise the ravages of cigarette smoke and sunlight. She looked like she was somewhere in her thirties. Her hair was blonde and straight, and aside from the frown lines that were starting to etch themselves permanently into her forehead, she was rather pretty.

Julie's volume increased bit by bit, in an attempt to compensate for the roar of the jet engines. After a few minutes, she was practically shouting.

"Oh no, he didn't. Well, what did you say? No, that's so wrong. But what about Amy? I said, WHAT ABOUT AMY?"

Indeed, what about Amy? Why couldn't Tina work all this out with Amy, thus sparing me from being an unwilling participant in this thing? Whatever this thing was.

We weren't going to land for four hours, and by then it would be past midnight. I needed some sleep, and I knew I would have to take matters into my own hands. I turned to face her. I guessed she was old enough that she'd react defiantly to a reprimand, so I decided on a different approach.

"Yeah, what about Amy?" I asked earnestly.

Her brow furrowed for a moment, and then she ignored me. She continued her conversation. "Wait, what was that? Oh. Well, if Amy isn't going, and Alicia isn't going, then we shouldn't go either."

"Wait," I piped up, "Alicia's not going either? Well, then I'm certainly not going."

At this point, Julie could no longer ignore me. "Excuse me?" she said. I could see she wanted to say, "This is a private conversation," but her expression told me that she realized the irony of those words before she spoke them. So instead she said, "Did you say something to me?" She seemed a bit irritated. "Hang on a second," she said back into the phone, "someone's talking to me."

"Yes," I replied. "I said that if Alicia's not going, then I'm not going either. And neither should you."

"What are you talking about? We don't even know you." She hadn't quite gotten up the nerve to be confrontational; perhaps she thought I was crazy. I decided to play up that angle.

"I'm receiving psychic messages from my friend Harvey. He's telling all of us not to go to the party if Alicia's not going." I was only guessing that she was talking about a party, but she didn't contradict me.

"Okay, man, you're kinda freaking me out. Do you mind? I'm trying to have a... a conversation, okay?" Her voice became a little bit patronizing, and a little bit angry.

I tried to look as though I were taken aback. "I'm sorry," I said glumly. "I'll be quiet." But I didn't turn away; I kept my eyes glued on her.

"Um, thanks," she said. She went back to talking on her phone. "Sorry about that. The guy next to me was talking to me."

After a few seconds she noticed my glare. When she glanced at me, I said nothing, but widened my eyes and flared my nostrils at her. I've always found it hard to flare my nostrils at someone without laughing; this time I managed to contain myself. She quickly turned to face directly away from me. She whispered something into the cell phone; probably something along the lines of, "the guy next to me is a psycho."

Time to ramp up the attack. I took off a shoe, sat up tall in my seat, and held the shoe to my ear. "What?" I said loudly. "Yes, that's right. If Alicia's not going then we shouldn't go either." At this point the man sitting in 16D started to snicker. I apparently had earned a fan. "No, Amy said she wasn't going. But Tina and Julie are still deciding. Hang on, I've got a call on the other line." I picked up my other shoe, and put it to my other ear.

Now the people in the row in front of me had also turned to watch.

"Hello? Yeah, I'm on the plane. No, they allow me to use my shoe during the flight now. I can talk as loud as I want, SO LONG AS I DON'T DISTURB ANYBODY. Yeah, really."

Julie paused a moment. "Tina, I'll call you back later," she said, and hung up her phone. She seemed to steel herself a moment, and then she said to me flatly, "You're an asshole."

"Yes," I said, with my shoes still held to my head, "that's true. But I've gotten you off your phone and I'm the hero of everyone in rows 15, 16, and 17. It's a tradeoff I'm willing to make."

There was a little round of applause from rows 15, 16, and 17. I stood up to take a little bow. I looked back and a noticed a middle-aged guy in a suit in 23C, talking on his cell phone. The woman in 23A gave me a wink as she brought her red leather shoe to her ear.

Victory comes in small battles.
Permalink  3 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: funnyhaha

Comments

Comment #1 from Andrea Forbing (Guest)
2004 Dec 28 - 4:12 pm : #
Hey, this is Andrea--John's friend. This is some FUNNY shit! I love it. You are a really great writer. If my poetry was half this good--I'd win a contest. In the interim, I'm happy to simply get by on the slam circuit and peddle my wares to drunken fools at the Heidelberg on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month. Join me there sometime.... Meet some of the bottom feeder writers from the Ann Arbor scene. Cheers ~A
Comment #2 from Travis Tidmore (Guest)
2005 May 16 - 2:48 pm : #
Dang Funny!!! I loved this, and if they ever allow cell phone usage on flights, I'll be using your tactics.
Comment #3 from Speaker (Guest)
2005 May 16 - 3:31 pm : #
i now worship you. *bows*

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