Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The French Blonde and the Straddling Thing

There are many stories to tell after my sojourn to Sri Lanka and I've decide to chuck them out randomly rather than keep a strict order. This suits my memory, which tends to work in that manner. So this is about the last leg of my trip, the plane journey home.

You know, BIA definitely isn't what it used to be is it? It's bigger, brassier and bolder now and, when you're in it, you could be in almost any medium sized airport in any part of the world. Progress is required and the new airport is clearly what's needed for Sri Lanka to try to establish itself as an air hub, but progress kills quaintness and BIA now has none of that charm.

So, I got there for my return flight. I went through the journey from the centre of Colombo to the airport and my mind went through the huge mix of emotions it always does, no matter how often and how many times I vist Sri Lanka. I left my hotel at about 3.30 AM, a great time for skipping traffic but not as good for being a member of the wide awake club.

The walk from the outside of the airport to the inside of it, past the little shops selling cashews and Maliban confectionary in US dollars always takes on a feeling of doom, as if it's a one way tunnel taking me away from paradise to a grey anonymous existence where I'm merely a great drummer in two bands. It is, apart from the great drummer bit.

Anyway, I've gone off on one again. After I went through the usual airport stuff I found myself in the lounge, at the gate. Travelling alone is full of experiences that just don't happen when with someone and I'm getting used to these things, some I like and some I don't. One of them is the whole looking around and trying to find single people game. I don't mean looking round and seeking singles in a "hide the sausage" way, I mean looking around and seeking singles in a "I hope I get to sit next to her on the plane" way, or in a "Oh Lord please don't let her be anywhere near me on the plane" way.

I'm not sure if other people travelling alone do this too, do you just accept that you're going to sit next to a random person or, like me, do you observe and judge, hoping for the right outcome?

I had spotted a peculiarly diseased looking NGO type that made me scrunch up my face immediately. I'm sure she was a nice enough girl but her legs were covered in scabs and her toenails needed a good wash, no doubt caused by months of hard work in the name of good causes in some outstation place. Charity and virtue are admirable, but I'd rather not share an 11 hour plane journey with them if they look like that. Not that I'm shallow or anything.

There were some other singles around, all of whom could be planted firmly in the "not too bad" category. I was however, extremely nervous of the red headed Australian tourist backpacker I'd seen. She was too talkative for my liking, full of stuff about how meek and mild a person she was and how she doesn't like to talk about herself all the time. She said this all the time to anyone within earshot so I got out of earshot, not an easy thing I can tell you.

Then there was the blonde. I like blondes. They're sexy, if you doubt me just ask a man. She was a bit on the old side, about 50 but cute, in a Britney's Mother sort of way and without the whole trash thing going on. She looked like a businesswoman but I guessed she was either in the fashion industry or the porn industry. She had that air about her and she was taking no prisoners.

We boarded and I headed to my seat. After many years of favouring a window seat I've now changed to liking the aisle seat. I can still peer over the shoulder of my neighbour to see the odd sight, there's those undercarriage cameras anyway and it means I can strut off to the toilet without feeling bad about waking someone. But, as I approached my seat I saw the diseased NGO bird sitting there. This wasn't good and I considered the option of some sort of protest, a hoax terrorist threat or something equally fitting. I had to talk to her, as she was in what appeared to be my seat.

We exchanged words and I discovered that the idiot had got the wrong row and was supposed to be in front. My sigh of relief was massive and she limped off to the seat in front. Then, as I took my seat, being careful that the NGO hadn't left a stray limb or two there, I noticed that the blonde was sitting next to me. Results don't come much bigger and strokes of luck don't get much better, she must have thought to herself, as I sat down.

I nodded to her. I have enough plane experience to know that I don't want 11 hours of friendship. I like my company and I like the company of others but to start a conversation too early can be fatal. I once made the mistake of instigating a conversation too early on a plane and I had to endure over 11 hours of non stop babbling from the fellow. He prattled on about Sri Lankan architecture, my parents and all sorts of stuff for the whole journey. He even farted and boasted about it at one point. It was only when we landed and got to the hotel that he fell asleep and went quiet. That's little brothers for you.

I took my place, reservedly but also pleased that I had ended up in the chair of plenty. The woman had that look of class about her, as if she knew what direction she was heading in and what speed she wanted to travel at. I settled myself and hoped the pilot had the same kind of knowledge. We took off, I peered over the left breast of the woman and watched mother Lanka disappear into the distance. It always makes me sad to see Lanka vanish and it's such a great view as I see the plane fly up the west coast and turn left at some point to head towards Belgium, or whatever country's next in that direction. Then, the chaps came round giving out the headphones. My glamorous one had fallen asleep so I kindly took her set for her and thought I'd pass them on when she woke up.

And, when she woke I got my first signal that I might have been lumped with a good looking but rather stupid woman. I said something and gave her the set of headphones, her ones. She looked at me and said

"No thanks"

Frankly this was just fucking weird. I had 2 sets of the useless plastic cheapo contraptions, she could see that clearly, she had none and an 11 hour flight ahead of her. This was obviously not a person who was used to long haul flights. After all, it wasn't that I was offering her some peanuts or a spare drum stick, she was clearly some kind of special case. However, her accent was French. All other stuff can be excused when there's a French accent, some breasts and a blonde lurking around, especially if they're all on the one person. I was still wise enough to avoid intercourse though.

I decided to observe her. She had a strange air about her, not like the diseased girl in front of me, more an air of stupidity, as if she was on a plane for the first time. It didn't seem likely as she also looked like a businessy type, even if the business was porn or fashion. After about an hour the lights on the plane went off, to encourage passengers to sleep, which suited me fine. Frenchie though had other ideas. She became the only passenger on the whole aircraft to keep her window curtain up. All the others closed their blinds to keep things dark and peaceful and Frenchie chose bright rays of sunshine to stream in through our panel of thick plastic. It intrigued me but I was so tired that it didn't stop me from dozing.

At some point my slumber was disrupted by a banging and rattling sound coming from Frenchie's direction. I opened an eye, reminding myself of Dave Grohl as he was woken by that geeky autograph seeking fan in the video for Learn to fly (Hi Theena). There was no fan, but I saw Frenchie busily trying to remove her personal video screen thing from the back of the seat in front of her. She had clearly decided that it should fully detach from the seat and was now trying to utilise the detaching mechanism, the one that hadn't been installed. There was all sorts of violent pulling involved until I felt that the time was right to step in and teach her the ways of the Sri Lankan Airlines world. I explained that the screen only swivelled on its hinges, it didn't detach. She was grateful and made French noises, they were quite sexy and I was quite worried. I had engaged with her. I went back to sleep.

I think I must have been in deep sleep, I remember nothing except waking up with a start and a jolt. As I awoke I noticed that my eyes couldn't focus, nothing too unusual there, but this time it felt different. There was something in front of them. I realised that there was some weight around my ahem gentleman's region and I saw that Frenchie was the source of this weight. This whole scenario was a new one on me. As a drummer I'm used to facing adversity, to measuring a situation carefully then reacting by hitting something with a stick. That was not an option. I had woken from sleep, as people tend to unless they die, and I had found a rather attractive French blonde, albeit slightly past her prime, trying to straddle me. Her face was a few centimetres away from mine. I suddenly became very English, I did what any Englishman would do in the same situation. These things are tests of mettle and I went English.

I apologised

"Sorry" I said. It made perfect sense to me.

"Non, non, I was trying to go to the toilet." she explained. And I hope you're impressed with the way in which I've casually thrown a couple of French words into the narrative there.

I've heard about these French porn actresses before, the things they get up to and the stuff they do but I was still a touch surprised. There were other passengers around and I was barely awake, I had thought she might have winked at me and suggested we "go for a walk" or something. This was just brazen.

Then it dawned on me. She was trying to get passed me. To go to the toilet. But, instead of waking me and asking me to move she had come up with the cunning plan of trying to hop over me while I was asleep. Her brilliant planning and tactical thinking explained that whole google "French military victories" thing in one easy move and I just rolled my eyes. I let it pass, in every way you can interpret that short sentence, and I decided that conversation with Frenchie should best be avoided.

So, for the rest of the long flight I exchanged the odd pleasantry with her, about the weather, the Dutch architecture in Negombo and the hand loomed cotton stuff that she dealt with, but all in all I stayed away from meaningful words and I think it was a sensible approach.

These French people can be quite mad you know.

Not like Sri Lankans.


Anonymous said...

I really like your blog!

Dili said...

HA HA HA HA HA HA........!!!! ROTFL


N said...

did she smell nice?

Parthi said...

haha had fun reading it...missed the pleasant encounter didnt you...hahaha nice writeup

confab said...

darn! it could've been 625 u know..tut tut...

Darwin said...

That was rather funny to read, thanks! I'm always a single traveller, but now I've resigned myself to sitting next to a smelly fat sniffly man/woman so I don't really bother looking around as such. I'm always nose deep in a book at airports and I've got my earphones on, so the longer I stay oblivious to the jerks I have to fly with, the easier it is for me.

I like the bit you wrote about the impending sense of doom as you pass the cashew shops -->very relate-able!

Azrael said...


Must have been a fun flight eh? he he :D

manshark said...

i can totally relate..to the blonde's position though :( I once got this same bright idea of jumping past my humongously-bellied sleeping neighbour..but since the said belly was in the way, I jumped (or tried to) from my arm rest to his further one :s ..and he awoke to find me balanced precariously trying very, very hard not to straddle his HEAD (!) :(