The trip did not get better. This is the first thing you should know. The very first. It is the first thing I will tell you of. This not-getting-better part.
Even after all of the poking. The prodding. The irradiating, yes. Even after the searchings of my luggage and subsequent interrobanging, the trip would not get better.
I regret to inform you my seat mate was wide awake and smelled of almonds.
She stared at my nose – without stop! – for the first three hours of our flight. I have never been a person able to read while having my nose stared at. Not me. I possess a great number of talents, it is true what you’ve heard, but that is not one. Stare all you like, dear reader, but please, not at this nose. Also not at these eyebrows.
At least not while I’m reading, please.
The notepad appeared during hour four. I believe that was when. She said, “Can I ask you some questions?”
I said, “Are you an air marshal?” The trip was not getting better. I told you.
But she said, “No, I’m just curious.”
Fine, then. It was fine. I said, “Fine”, and it went like this:
- “You’re a Pakistani, right?” (No. I’m an American.)
- “Yes, but really, you’re Pakistani.” (No, but really. I’m American.)
- “Have you ever tasted alcohol?” (Once I did.)
- “Do you like how bacon smells?” (Yes.)
- “Have you killed anybody?” (Not today. Yet.)
- “You made a joke. Are you aware that all jokes made during air travel are taken very seriously by both the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration?” (If I’m arrested, do I get to get moved away from you?)
- “Do you have a walī?”(Me? Have a walī? Unlikely.)
- “Then who is that gentleman sitting behind us?” (Oh. Him? He’s my bodyguard.)
- “Who pays for your bodyguard to be here? Your father or your employer?” (My employer does.)
- “Cool. Why?” (Because paying a bodyguard’s cheaper than paying a ransom.)
Et cetera and so on.
To say this questioning was interminable is not strictly true, for she was perfectly able to terminate it at any time – as was I, I suppose – and at some point, I forget just when, the questioning did terminate. It was not interminable, then, no, but certainly too long.
I was left with no choice but to write a blog post – this blog post – about her and about my encounter with her, and I told her as much.
“Hot damn!” she said, and those were actually the words she used – “Hot” and “Damn” – and what’s more, while clapping. “I’ve been in blogs. Can I choose my blogworld name like before?”
“What name?” I said.
She twisted around in her seat and she even tried to shake my hand. “I am Doctor Belloq,” she said.