Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Believe the Ring Finger

This past January, I flew to Albany New York to care for a dear friend who was recovering from foot surgery. I felt I would be blessed for my selfless actions, which is why I was not surprised to be seated by Mr. X, PhD, on the plane to Atlanta, the first leg in my journey home. Mr. X, PhD, was from a large western state and looked a lot like Leim Neilson. I am not a Leim Neilson stalker, but X was cute in that Irish way, and I enjoyed flirting.

When he took the seat beside me, I smiled and introduced myself. I find it difficult to sit elbow to elbow with another human being and not be cordial. I told X that he may want to exchange seats, since a place beside me was the least desirable one on the plane. The stewardess hated my guts.

As I had tried to board the aircraft, the bulldog attendant who was stationed in front of the first class cabin, refused to let me pass through to the narrow aisle. I had three carryons. I am allowed to have three, as one is medical equipment. I have sleep apnea. My CPAP machine keeps my heart healthy. I love it. I explained nicely to the bulldog, that I had toted my machine through several layers of security, was allowed to do so by FAA regulations. She stood her ground and refused me entrance. I remained stationary, sweet and calm, and stated again that the machine flew with me. The passengers were patiently backing up behind me, the reason I was eventually allowed to pass.

“I will look up the regulation now. Just go to your seat.”

I never heard from her about my machine. I was right, and she was wrong. I did not order a soda on that flight. Her scowl told me to be wary. I settled back to explain to X, the symptoms of sleep apnea. I should be awarded an honorary MD in sleep disorders, as I am an expert now. X was mesmerized, and by the end of our conversation, he was convinced that he had the same condition. He typed a note on his blackberry to be evaluated by a sleep clinic when he arrived home.

As I interviewed him, I was impressed by all of his accomplishments. I am easily impressed. X had numerous graduate degrees, testified before congress, and had won awards from our government for his work in saving Scandinavia, the former soviet bloc countries, most of South American and several parts of Asia, from the nuclear and chemical destruction of their soil. I am weak in the knees for world savers. Place my heart on a sterling silver platter and serve it up. We talked about the classes he taught, and I told him that I not only had sleep apnea, but was a divorce survivor too. We had fun laughing and sharing. X told me about his three daughters, his sailboat, and his travels. I commented on the ring on his left hand that was gold with a blue stone in the center. He said that it was difficult to find attractive male jewelry, and that he had just gotten it in Mexico. He handed me his business card, X, PhD, NAE, etc, etc. It had all of his contact information.

When we landed in Atlanta, X asked me to have a cocktail at the private airport lounge. He was a few years younger than me and wanted to share drinks. I was excited and thirsty from not having a soda on the flight. We both ordered wine while waiting to depart. I poured what remained of mine into his glass, as I am a slow drinker. He chased it back and escorted me to my gate. After a quick kiss goodbye, X, PhD, flew out of another terminal. I arrived in Seattle and promptly began to throw up. I had stomach flu. I was sick for 24 hours. On Sunday I went snowshoeing with two friends who coaxed me, in my weakened state, up to the ice falls at Alpental. It was beautiful.

The next day, I emailed X to apologize if he had gotten sick from sharing my wine. I sent photos of our beautiful trip to the falls in the snow. He emailed back almost instantly. He was well, had spent the weekend sailing, and sent photos at the helm. He also sent photos of himself sailing in New Zealand, just because he knew that I had always wanted to travel there. It was a long email, but he said he had to cut it short in order to prepare for class. He joked about not having enough degrees after his name; otherwise he would be able to wing his lectures. He asked that I email him at his Gmail account, not at work. Gmail was for family and friends.

I looked him up on the internet. I saw his house on Google Earth. It was shared by his wife and three daughters. I did not respond to his email. He never wrote back. The lesson learned: if there is a ring on that left hand, chances are he didn’t buy it in Mexico for himself!

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