Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Did You Spill Vodka in My Purse or Did It Always Smell Like This?

I recently flew from Moscow back to Tampa for a visit. I flew out of DME airport, the one that was involved in the bombings a few weeks ago. Although security was stepped up compared to in the past, there was still virtually no security when it came to female visitors/passengers. I don't know if this comes from a feeling that women aren't capable (how far can she get in THOSE heels?) or fear of the women (what will she do to me with THOSE heels if I hassle her?). Either way, while all the men in line were getting pat down, I breezed right through the metal detector, being given a friendly wave of passage when my watch set off the alarm.

My plan was going to be 4 hours late. This is fine, I don't ever bet on anything or look forward to too much now that I live in Moscow. Russia has really taught me to just appreciate the moment..

Sitting on a chair, reading a book, tuning out the thoughts that I am spending the day in an airport that was recently bombed, an old man came up and thumped me with a rolled up magazine. I had absentmindedly crossed my legs with my foot touching the chair. So sure, hitting me is a totally reasonable reaction.

Waiting in line to board, a thin tall Russian man with a crossbody purse edged up in my peripheral. Oh so you are going to try the bottle neck cutting approach? No. I know rationally we are going on the same plane, with assigned seats, and it makes no difference if you get on first or if I do. But he should know that too.  I give him the eye of inappropriateness, but he is Russian and therefore immune to such passive tactics. I offer him up a sharp shoulder  the bottom two ribs to assert my line position. I am not back on American soil yet, so this is acceptable. This translated nicely and he cuts the person behind me instead.

Happy to finally board and take my seat, I start reading my book again. I have the someone-is-staring-at-me feeling and look up to see my buddy from the line leaning over THE CHAIR IN FRONT OF ME....HIS CHAIR. He is smiling. I don't know what to make of a smiling Russian. I can trust them scowling, this is their baseline. He wants to shake hands and talk to me in Russian, despite me informing him (in both Russian and English) that I don't speak Russian. No worries. The look still doesn't work. I just thought I would give it another shot.

About a quarter of the way through the flight, the best seat neighbor ever, spilled his duty-free bottle of vodka inside my purse that was properly stowed under the seat in front of me.  He is passed out and doesn't notice. I am happy he had already drank half the bottle. I went bobbing for my blackberry, that now, won't turn on.

This is also around the time of the flight, for the customary, all Russians out of your seats, let's ALL pop the duty-free bottles and have a block party in the aisles. The two women next to me have unidentifiable brightly colored liquor in water bottles they are mixing with their bottles. TSA, I am giving you the eye now. I take another xanax, I will not be upright for the remainder of the flight.

The plan lands, and as is the normal, the Russians clap. I am always so confused why the plan landing is such a surprise that it requires applause. But this time, I got it and applauded too.

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