As I approach my 60th birthday, it’s easy to think that I’ve seen just about everything. My recent flight home from our annual family reunion proved me wrong.
We boarded in Boston for a non-stop, care-free (or so I thought) ride home to Seattle. My husband and I had aisle seats across from each other and settled in for a comfortable return trip.
The usual horse-trading for other seats occurred before take-off, which landed me a different companion in the middle seat: a loud, tipsy, burly man who exuberantly introduced himself as “Mark” to me, Seat 17C, and Ms. X in the window seat, 17A. I nodded politely and continued with my crossword puzzle. Mr. “Mark,” in middle seat 17B, and Ms. X in window seat 17A, struck up animated conversation.
One hour into the flight, things got steamy.
Without going into detail, these two forty-somethings were “gettin’ it on.” And they were both married…not to each other. (How do I know? Their “pillow talk” was audible.)
The plane was full—there was no other available seat for me to switch to. I tried to read and sleep, but their conversation and sound effects were unavoidable. Both were drinking heavily—beverage service three times with doubles for both. In between, there were multiple trips to the head…together. I don’t even want to think about that.
I got fed up, and spoke with the flight attendants. They removed the alcohol and patrolled diligently for the remainder of the flight. I switched seats with my husband whose male presence interestingly served as chaperone.
Today, personal boundaries and respect for others are disappearing. My initial paralysis during that flight was simple disbelief that this could even be happening—and just not knowing what to do. I was an unwilling witness to marital cheating, and it was oozing into my space. Yuck.
To Ms. X in 17A and “Mark” in 17B on Alaska Airlines, #15, Boston-Seattle, July 31, 2010: Personal lives should be private business. Making yours so very public that night infringed on my right to a lust-less return trip home.