Don't ever sit next to me on an airplane. I'm serious. Because you're a reader of this column, it's obvious you're an extremely intelligent, lovely person with a highly evolved sense of humor. All things I would never discover because I'd be busy performing a cost/benefit analysis on the Bigfoot Garden Yeti Sculpture in the Sky Mall catalog as a way of deliberately trying not to engage you in conversation during our flight.
Yes, I am totally that person.
I'm polite enough to seatmates. I won't monopolize the arm rest, climb over you countless times to go to the restroom, or listen to my music so loudly you’ll hear it through my headphones. But that is where our relationship ends. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to get to know people over time ... and always where there is some means of egress.
On an airplane, I can get easily get trapped in a one-way conversation and end up listening and not talking for several hours because I find it difficult to share personal details until I know someone really well (as is evidenced by my very public blog posts about laser armpit hair removal, my lack of religion, and that .)
So when I finally do open up to someone, the first thing I am required to share is I am a total hypocrite.
However, on a recent trip to Dayton, Ohio, for the Erma Bombeck Humor Writer’s Workshop, I not only had conversations with my seatmates that lasted the duration of the flights, but I also actually enjoyed them.
On the way there, I sat next to a hairdresser from Florida who was heading to a family wedding in Dayton. Hairdressers generally have entertaining stories because they deal with the public all day, and she was no exception. By the end of our hour together I knew many things about her, including that she had a comedian friend who had been hired for a clothing-optional cruise gig. (My question to her: "Did you tell her that if she got nervous during the set, she should just pretend that everyone in the audience was fully clothed?")
And on the way home, I sat next to a fellow humor writer who I got to know during the conference — a very pregnant Mormon woman with whom I immediately had a lot in common. (Unnecessary point of clarification: that would be the humor writer part.)
You might think that based on this experience I have re-evaluated my no-talking-to-seatmates rule. And I did consider it briefly, but let's be honest here — that box of applause and laughter is not going to research itself.