It's somewhat fitting that Lindsay was the last person I said goodbye to in Paris, and then the first person to reunite with me in Salzburg. We met up in Memphis and there, boarded a plane to Amsterdam. That flight would normally not be worth mentioning, but for the fact that on that flight, we sat between the 2 most ridiculous people on the plane and maybe on the planet.
We were not initially seated together, but Lindsay rectified that within moments of taking our seats. I was at the front of the plane, she was at the back. As soon as I sat down in my window seat, however, I hear my name being called and I turn around to find Lindsay waving me towards the back of the plane. Apparently, the young man who was seated next to her never even made it to his seat; as soon as she saw that he was moving in her general direction, she said, "Hey! Wanna sit up front and trade seats with my friend?" He didn't speak English, but he complied. God bless him.
So that's how Lindsay and I found ourselves sitting in the middle row of the plane between 2 Dutch women (one of the left of Lindsay and one on the right of me). Before take-off, the cabin was filled with conversation (let's note: airplanes are not libraries!), and Lindsay and I talked amongst ourselves, still so happy to be reunited and bursting with eagerness to get back to Europe. Apparently, the woman to Lindsay's left had never been on a plane before (maybe she sailed to the USA on a silent ship?) and became visibly annoyed with the fact that we were conversing with one another. Not only was she turning in her seat to glare at anyone making a peep, but at one point, she leaned over to Lindsay and I, and in broken English, said to no one in particular, "THEY TALK SO LOUD." She rolled her eyes and I fake-smiled passive aggressively while Lindsay offered a sincere apology. The woman's reply: "You're sorry....HA!" When we heard her mutter under her breath some some of generalization about Americans, the English language, and our collective desire to take over the world, I decided to unzip my hoodie, revealing beneath it my vintage 1976 Olympic Game Team USA commemorative t-shirt.
The airline offered a really fun movie selection with an interactive menu where each individual passenger chooses what they want to watch on their own screen. We lined up Inglorious Basterds and 500 Days of Summer in our queues (seen them both, love/like them both respectively), but before we pressed "play", decided to use the bathroom. By using the bathroom at the same time, we figured we would annoy our seat-neighbors less by preventing them from getting out of their seats twice; nobody likes to be the person making everyone in their aisle unbuckle, shift around, stand up, etc. Well, that was a false assumption if I ever made one. We deliberated for about 30 seconds which aisle we should use and which 'neighbor' we should bother. Considering how outrageous our last experience with Dutch Lady No. 1 was, we opted for the aisle to my right. I turned to the woman and asked very politely, "I'm so sorry, but would you mind if we used the bathroom?" Normal question, right? I mean, some people wouldn't ask -- they'd just unbuckle their seat belts and raise their eyebrows at you until you move out of their way. She didn't appear to understand right away, but based on our body language, realized we wanted to step around her. Not only did she look extremely annoyed, but she took 30-60 seconds unbuckling her seat belt in slooooow motion, another 30 seconds to put away her book and fold her blanket, and then another 30 seconds to store both items neatly beneath her seat. I thanked her about 7 times (she glared at me in response), and then we repeated the same charade when we returned from the bathroom a few minutes later.
Later during the flight, Lindsay's neighbor decided to store all of her trash in Lindsay's seat, while my neighbor, Dutch Lady No. 2, elbowed me no less than 7 times, coughed and sneezed in my direction repeatedly, and pushed my elbow off the arm rest each time I rested it there. Wondering if she would understand me if I said to her in German, "Honey, I paid just as much for this plane ticket as you did" -- and cursing myself for not knowing how to say that to her in Dutch -- I ultimately resigned myself to keeping my mouth shut, in the interest of everyone around us.
In conclusion, it was the longest nine hours of my life.
Our flight to Munich was much, much better. Otherwise, I might have swam back home and never looked back.
More to come.