Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gate 5A

We live in a world where children and adults alike are obsessed with colorful rubber bracelets shaped like animals. Except that they're only shaped like animals until you slide them onto your wrist - then they're just shaped like squiggly circles. All these people, I think, have in common that they like to distort and be distorted. And they partially like these things because everyone else does, or at least seems to.

Anyone who says the mass appeal of a thing doesn't make it less attractive is either lying or desperately holding onto their childhood. The first time I saw the animal v. squiggly bracelets, a little girl on the train was wearing them and passing them back and forth with her little sister. That day, I was wearing rubber bracelets too. They were neon and had little gold and silver charms dangling off them, and I felt an instant connection with this tiny human. Like I was looking into the past and she was looking back at me.

Then, a couple weeks later, I started to notice those very same bracelets on other children on other trains. Then on adults. Then on my contemporaries. I felt like something had been stolen from me. In my moment with that little girl, I had seen something. And now my vision was gone. Either that, or everyone else saw exactly what I had seen. Either way, something once living was dead.

I hate those bracelets now. They follow me and haunt me. La Guardia Airport sells them, in packs of 20 or 30 or 50, for the low cost of your individuality. I see them while I'm standing lockjawed at a checkout counter, trying to help the cashier figure out how much change she owes me. I gave her $20.50 for a bag of chocolate-covered peanuts that cost $4.34. I silently bemoan our nation's rudimentary education system, until I realize that I'm mindlessly fishing my iPhone out of my bag to double-check the math, my own insecurity the reel on the hook.

Over the loudspeaker a very gay flight attendant announces that Jonathan Singer is late for his flight to Savannah. Suh-van-uh. I think to myself, popping peanuts into my mouth, that Jonathan Singer sounds like a name I've heard. Jonathan Singer sounds like a famous writer. Jonathan Singer sounds like he has something to say that the world needs to hear. I pop more peanuts and decide I'll google him later.

I walk by the frozen yogurt stand, which at 8 p.m. has been gated and shuttered, prompting my peanut purchase. This is of course the only time I've ever craved frozen yogurt while inside La Guardia. I take this as a very bad omen and think about what it would feel like to be inside a plane that is crashing to the ground. I think about tweeting my concerns, hoping that such a tweet would jinx the universe into not letting me die. The universe, however, does not respond to pinch/poke/you owe me some coke.

Sitting at my gate, I see that the girl across from me is carrying three items: a LeSportSac, a Longchamp, and a Crumbs bag filled with cupcakes. The holy trinity of consumerism. I imagine her ambling through her parents' front door, presenting them with cupcakes which they then cut with plasticware and share before bedtime. They hug her and tell her how proud they are of her for moving to the big city and starting to make a life for herself. She divides her face with a pretty little smile, wondering why the kitchen counters suddenly look so small and far away.

Behind me, I hear a jump rope hitting the carpet. I hear the distinct mmph-whack-mmph-whack-mmph-whack of plastic rope hitting carpet. I recall that sound vividly from a million gym classes of my childhood, plastic rope against rubber floor and sometimes against flesh legs when kids miscalculated the distance between their soles and the floor. I whip my head around to discover it is the sound of a woman's flip-flops slapping against the heels of her feet as she hurries from gate to gate. My heart sinks deep into my abdomen, anchoring me to the sticky pleather seat.

I wonder if pilots think about how easy it would be to crash a plane each time they find themselves behind the controls. I know I would.


  1. Very dark Meg...btw did you Gaga on the Today show concert this AM? I think I DVR'd it to see if you were on the street. The things one thinks about rushing off to work.

  2. "The holy trinity of consumerism" I really like that use of words. This is really good writing although I've never seen those bracelets before haha!

    Seriously though good job.x