Gaga Man

So it’s November a year ago, and I’m on an overnight flight to Toronto.

I don’t fly a lot, so I don’t know how cold it’s going to get, and I shove my parka into the overhead and proceed to shiver for the next 4 hours.

Everyone around me settles in, Owen watches a movie, drifts off to sleep.

I’m too cold to sleep, too nervous about flying to commit to a whole movie.

Apparently, so is the guy on the other side of me.  He’s pulled window seat, but in the middle of the night, so it really doesn’t count for squat.  I stare at him, if only in my periphery.  Probably 50, or a tired late 40’s.  Balding, white fringe, glasses, biggish nose.  Long legs, long arms, uncomfortable in Economy Class.  He shifts and squirms and it’s clear he’s not going to sleep either.

He turns to the entertainment console in front of him.  None of the movies grab him.  He struggles through the TV shows, and now I wonder if he didn’t like any of the movies, or if he just couldn’t figure out how to make any of them appear on his screen.  He settles on music.

I can only take so much awkwardness, look away for a bit.  When I turn back, he’s in the middle of Lady Gaga – The Fame.

And if I thought he’d been squirmy before, oh hell, that was nothing compared to what this CD was doing to this guy.

He’d run through the songs, one by one, faster and faster, but couldn’t figure out how to get off the CD.

Then he gave up, and just let it play.

I think about him.  Still.  I wonder what happened.

Did he internalize all that frustration, spinning it and spinning it in his mind until he deplaned, go home and burn his dental practice to the ground?

Did he succumb to the music, open his mind, broaden his horizons, wonder what else he’d been missing out on while his radio had been permanently tuned in to CBC?

Did he get off that plane and head for the first gay club he could find, shake it with cute boys until he was sweaty and ready to drop, no longer denying the truth that hadn’t dared to previously speak its name?

Guess I’ll never know.


19 responses to “Gaga Man

  1. Completely missing the point of your post, I can’t help but wonder what you were doing on an overnight flight to Toronto.

    Though, my brief search for Toronto fires in November 2008 failed to come up with any dental offices, so I’m guessing he decided to go the gay club route.

  2. Yeah, I’m going with option 3 too. Lady Gaga has that effect

  3. this is exactly why i never speak to anyone on an airplane… imagine that you’d offered to help him shut off the music? an hour after he started showing you pictures from his last drag show, you’d have been ready to burn down his dental practice…

  4. “spinning it in his mind until he got off that plane, went home and burned his dental practice to the ground”

    Incidentally(look I got dental in there), my favorite sentence.

    I used to travel for work 26 weeks out of the year, all over US and Canada. To pass the time I would make up these same mental movies for the people I observed. I also pretended to be deaf on a number of flights to get out of talking to my seat partner. So if any of you all sat next to a petite, blonde, deaf girl typing furiously into her laptop, that was probably me.

    • Holy crap, that’s a lot of traveling! Is it wrong that I kind of wish you were still doing it, on the off chance you’d have to come here?

      And I could never fake deaf. I’d laugh at something stupid and get caught. Stealth, I ain’t.

  5. I am not even a little bit ashamed to admit that I, a chubby, 31 year old, white girl, will be shaking the money maker at a Lady Gaga concert in no less than 6 days.

    I am fashioning a disco stick of my own as we speak.

    • Nor should you feel shame. And get down with your bad disco stick. Just no bluffin’ with your muffin, ‘kay?

      • I think further proof that I am not what would be considered ‘age appropriate’ for her show is that I have to sit and really think and ponder what half of her lyrics even mean! And I am an English teacher. Well versed in the art of metaphor and double entendre.

        I am going to be the creepy old last at the show AND a failure of an English teacher. Who knew The Gaga could take so much from me

  6. Fantastically written. Creative non-fiction at its finest…from the set up, thru the second act, all the way to the clean closing. I enjoy your writing.

    • Oh goodness, veach, you are too kind. You make me blush in your general direction. (Which I am assuming is south, because except for Santa, pretty much everyone is south of me.)

  7. Having to listen to Lady Gaga like that would make me want to burn something down… even country music is better than that.

  8. Any country where you need to FLY to get around is just too bloody big.

  9. I just want to see Jillian’s disco outfit.

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