“Honey I’ll be home soon” “No, don’t bother. No. I’ll take a cab... I love you!” He literally sang into the cell phone. All the while, he was fishing frantically inside his bag (which seemed to house pretty much every perceivable gadget in the market) for his Blackberry. Upon finding it, I thought he would switch to answering emails and shut off that cell. But no, it was just to compare some numbers and he was jabbering away in a second. “So I’ll be in Philly next week and maybe we can meet for drinks?” Pause. “Uh huh, Uh huh” Pause. “No, I understand! I’ll be there next month too, maybe then?” “Uh, huh” “Sure” “Yes, Yes” “Yes we should. Miss talking to you Kathy, love you!”
At that point I discreetly switched off the little switch on the right ear of my headset. Noise cancellation was the last thing I required at the moment. That was the second woman he had said that to!! Of course it could have been his mother, daughter, sister, whoever, but the curious will remain curious and the book I was holding slumped just a bit. The attentive observer could have correctly predicted that I wouldn’t be turning too many pages for the rest of the time before our plane took off. I (meaninglessly!) felt satisfied that this Kathy had turned down his invitation for drinks. “Good for you” I rooted silently. He was on yet another call now and he kept the caller waiting while he switched to an incoming one. “Yes. John! So you do have a 4 PM slot open? Great!”
“Ah, this one is just business” I thought. We were after all in Business Class and he had invested in all these gadgets and it was still 5 PM Thursday. So if he had to work, I would be obliging, though everybody in the small cabin had already begun giving him the looks. “Good to hear your voice John, Miss you!” Eww. Well, he was just a very affectionate person I guessed. Till I heard him end the next call with an “I love you” again, this time a mumbled one. Maybe because he saw me motionless, head cocked or maybe he suddenly became aware of how he was “spreading the love” with the entire cabin within earshot. It was all odd indeed.
After take off, he settled down with laptop and Blackberry, shooting off emails and doing typical managerial stuff. He asked me the perfunctory questions and though I usually tell people a little bit about my work in such conversations (I’ve met some really nice and interesting people in my fortnightly visits to Chicago), I just wasn’t in the mood this time. It had been one of those days when you end up feeling exhausted but nothing significant has really been accomplished. I needed to unwind, to stare blankly at the most detailed birthing description in “Midwives” (my current read, I swear I did not know it was an Oprah Book Club recommendation. This copy did NOT have the seal) and then let my mind wander. These 2 hour plane rides home are very useful for being with the Self so-to-say. On arrival in Boston, project designs seem much clearer, code seems more debug-able and personal life seems altogether beautiful! He was a very persistent fellow though and I ended up mumbling more than a Yes and a No to his questions. He laughed at my jokes and he told me about his business. He drank his wine and ate his dinner, urging me to eat up too. He seemed nice enough and we became quite friendly. First impressions can be misleading and though I had initially sensed that he had thought me very lax to be wasting all this time reading a novel for somebody not on vacation and actually traveling on work, he completely dug my “de-compressing” theory when I explained its results to him. He decided he needed to take that up too and promptly shut down his laptop. I told him that when I had flown in the previous day, I had gotten some work done in-flight. (On hindsight that was such an un-cool thing to do - as if I needed to convince him of my professionalism! But I guess I was impressed with his work and successful entrepreneurs are interesting people and my own vanity and need-to-impress inevitably struck). Favorable tail winds (I love them!) took us to Boston in less than 1 hr 35 minutes. We walked out together, chatting amicably.
My husband waits at the exact same spot at the curb at Logan, each and every time I fly out. He comes directly from work and though there used to be days when he would try to cook and keep a warm dinner ready, those days are long gone. We usually head to 1 of 3 favorite restaurants right down our street, a short ride from the airport. I like that, not having to think or look for him or figure out stuff. There’s a short call when my plane lands and then I walk directly over and jump into the car. I left Mr. Entrepreneur at the curb and as I slid into the front seat I was almost afraid I would be subject to his standard parting-line too! It was a joke in my head now, one I would share with my husband, he being a man never generous with his 'I love yous' in public, I knew it would make a funny story. As my husband inched his way to the outermost lane through the long line of waiting cars, I twisted around to reach for the seat belt that tends to slide all the way back in a most irritating manner. I saw a woman step out of the Mercury that had been parked in front of my husband’s spot and stand on tiptoe in her 2.5-inch heels to kiss Mr. Entrepreneur. Something was odd but I couldn’t put my finger on it. As they stood there in a passionate embrace and we drove away, the words “No, don’t bother. No. I’ll take a cab… I love you!” rung out in my head, almost audibly. I recalled the mumbled version too. Maybe I’ve jumped to conclusions but the bad taste has yet to leave my mouth.