Tuesday, June 2, 2015

IWSG: When Characters Fall Out Of The Sky


It's time for another addition of  Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit the diversely talented members who will welcome you with open arms. The following is a repost from last spring.

The night before our flight home from Israel, we upgraded our seats to the exit aisle. Since we had to leave for the airport early in the morning with only a few hours sleep, we both took turns dozing off on the flight. Shortly after, the first character from another dimension appeared.

The exit aisle was located next to the restroom. Though I was too far away to see if the "Vacant" or "Occupied" sign was on, the man's body language led me to believe that he was first in line. He started swaying back and forth doing the "potty dance." This dance occurs at an early age when children are having so much fun playing outside that they hold it in until the last minute. This results into spastic convulsions in a panic to race home to the bathroom. Sadly, this condition often begins to reappear in middle-age, and can be set-off with as little as a cup of coffee.

As time passed, he decided to turn our little exit corner into his own personal gym. He did a series of exercises from running in place to a complete stretching routine. I was looking forward to getting back to my book, when the next character appeared.

This man was in his late sixties, and enjoyed shuffling between the galley, and the restroom. He acted like an overserved patron at a singles bar. While nursing a cup of water, he unabashedly flirted with a pretty, young woman as she waited to use the restroom. When he ran out of people to bother, he eventually used the facilities himself. Afterward, he slid into our exit corner to tuck in his shirt, zip up his fly, and buckle his belt. It was almost as if he thought he was entering a fifth wall where no one would be able to see him. If only he had been invisible, then we wouldn't have had to see his Howard Hughes toenail peeking through the hole in his sock. For all of the rules on airlines, not being allowed to take your shoes off should be one of them.

I began to doze off again, and awoke to a crowd full of people. Suddenly, our little corner was converted into a cozy comedy club. A group of men were laughing it up before their wives came to spoil their fun. Each of the three wives looked like one of Cinderella's wicked stepsisters, while each of the husbands looked like they wanted to find another hideout.

Then I started wondering what they thought about me. Did they catch me sleeping with my mouth open? Was I covered in crumbs from the tasteless lunch? Could they see that I ran out of clean socks, and was wearing navy tweed with black pants? Of course my shoes never left my feet, as I follow my own rules.

If the first character was The Gym Rat, the second Herbert The Pervert, the third Cinderella's Steps and Their Fellas, who would I be? Just a pale observer of unsavory characters, who looked like she could've been traveling from Wisconsin instead of a very warm climate from halfway around the world. Whoever said that you had to look out the window to see interesting sights?


49 comments:

  1. I have spent enough time in planes to agree, although thankfully, I haven't met a "herbert" yet. I rejoined the IWSG this week.

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  2. I've met the Spawn of Satan (small children who whined loudly through a night flight) but none of those others. With that array of characters, being unremarkable might be a good thing.

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  3. I keep my head in a book and seldom look up when I fly. I am always nervous and want to get lost in another scene rather than where I am. However, in the airport, I listen to everybody and check out all who are getting on the plane with me. Once, not too long after 9/11, my battery operated toothbrush went off in my carry-on. Everybody turned around and stared at me with a wary eye. I guess I was the one they feared on that trip.

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  4. Hi, Julie!

    You wrote:

    << Whoever said that you had to look out the window to see interesting sights? >>

    It's so true! Flying is like shopping at Wal-Mart. :) You can find all the comedy and drama you want on a plane flight and you don't need to look out the window or watch the movie. The most memorable and disconcerting flying experience I had was a round trip that I took in 2001 shortly after the 9-11 terror attacks. Midway through the first flight I suddenly noticed that the flight attendant in my section of the plane was flushed and CRYING! I mean to tell you she was sitting there some 15 feet in front of me sobbing! I never found out what was going on with her but you can imagine the thoughts that were racing through my mind, making it a very long flight indeed. The return trip was uneventful but, the very next day, a mentally unbalanced man departed in his private plane from the airport where I had landed and performed a copycat terror act, flying his aircraft into the side of a skyscraper in my city!

    It's good to see you again, dear friend Julie. I hope you are having a great week.

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  5. Hi Julie ... so so true - ghastly traits people show us on long plane trips - I've done enough to feel distinctly uncomfortable at times ... we get a good position, and wham bam someone hits our space ... well I could elaborate, but I'll leave our brains to open those creative doors ... the confines of being a passenger ... I could tell a few about trains and car journeys .. but think I 'll take my comment mode button away for a few months ... see you in September ... cheers and happy Summer - Hilary

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  6. Hi, Julie,

    People watching is TRULY interesting. One really SEES so much. Keep a pen ready to jot down a few things because you never know when you can use them in a story... Like this. LOL.

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  7. You could be a lot of people: the Fairy Godmother looking for Cinderella, Oliver Hardy's wife in Chickens Come Home, or Mr Rooney's secretary in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I'm confident you could play any of those parts with aplomb, so take your pick!

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  8. Rhonda - Glad you're back in the IWSG! Hopefully, Herbert won't be on your next flight!

    Alex - Screaming and whining children are the worst, though having gone through it, I'm usually just happy that they're not my own. Thanks for hosting another insightful IWSG, Alex!

    Arleen - That must have been kind of frightening when your toothbrush turned on out of the blue. I'll bet it's the last time you brought it in your carry-on. I agree that it's fun to people watch in the airport.

    Shady - I would've been a nervous wreck seeing the flight attendant in tears. I usually have trouble sleeping on planes, so this would've definitely kept me up all night. How horrible that someone else deliberately flew his aircraft into a skyscraper. It's good to see you too, Shady!

    Hilary - Yes, our moods do change when others "hit our space" on crowded flights. Have a wonderful summer break, and I'll see you in the fall, Hilary! I miss you already.

    Michael - Good advice about keeping a pen at the ready, Michael! Now that it's starting to finally warm up, maybe we could plan a summer outing.

    Gorilla - Though I've yet to see the classic, "Chickens Come Home," I'll bet Oliver Hardy's wife would fit in perfectly with this bevy of beauties. Someone obviously woke up on the wrong side of the nest this morning.

    Julie

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  9. Sounds like not a lot of fun but you wrote it well.

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  10. I'm glad to say I've never met Herbert on a flight. Gross! But the other characters seemed familiar LOL. As did Alex's Spawn of Satan, unfortunately. The Spawn seems to show up on every flight come to think of it.

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  11. I know how those Israel flights go. Done a few myself. Planning one for next year.

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  12. >>... Howard Hughes toenail peeking through the hole in his sock. For all of the rules on airlines, not being allowed to take your shoes off should be one of them.

    Ha!-Ha! GEM JULIE, I'm reminded of the song "She's Got Bette Davis Eyes". Only in this case, it's "He's Got Howard Hughes Toenails". Where's "Weird Al" Yankovic when we need him?!

    ~ D-FensDogG

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  13. When confined to an airplane, you can't help but notice the people around you. Sometimes the people watching provides a laugh or two, and sometimes it brings on revulsion. Ha! Sounds like you had a little of each. Great post, Julie.

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  14. Loved this story, though it could have inconvenienced you, you took the high road, and used it as a wonderful opportunity to observe people. Good job!

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  15. The joys of flying just keep on giving :)

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  16. Ivy - On another flight we sat next to someone with horrible body odor, so this was great in comparison. Thanks Ivy!

    Julie - Alex's "spawn of Satan" comment was funny! Kids can't help getting restless on long flights. Glad Herbert hasn't found you yet!

    Shelly - I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time! As you know, there are so many incredible sights to see in Israel.

    Stephen - I also miss "Weird Al." Maybe you'll do a BOTB featuring him sometime. Fortunately, the guy wasn't clipping his toenails next to me! Thanks Stephen!

    Daisy - It definitely was a mix. In retrospect, it did make the flight go by faster. Thanks Daisy!

    Yvette - I really had no choice, but to laugh. They were an entertaining group of characters. Thanks Yvette!

    Julie

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  17. Sheila - Thank you for the kind words, Sheila!

    Carol - After reading some of the comments, I'd say we've been very lucky. I look forward to staying grounded for a while. Thanks Carol!

    Julie

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  18. You have a whole slew of characters for your next book, Julie. That's such a long flight, it's good that you were entertained.

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  19. Hey Julie,

    I'm very much relating to your story that sort of left me up in the air. People observations on planes can be rather interesting, although seeing some dude sitting on the wing always causes a bit of in-flight conversation.

    Nicely done! Were you on "Virgin on the Ridiculous" airlines?

    Gary

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    1. That little dude was me. I guess I should have brought more money to the airport. I got where I was going, but it was a little chilly. And a bitch to hang on.

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  20. It is amazing what and how much we observe when we sit still long enough to observe others.

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  21. Robyn - It also helped having a chocolate stash with me at all times! I'm excited about YOUR next book, Robyn!

    Gary - Wasn't that a Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner aka Captain Kirk? "Virgin on the Ridiculous" does inspire confidence on an airline! Thanks Gary!

    Joy - I also did laps around the plane to stretch my legs, but the most interesting looking characters congregated in the exit aisle right next to us. Thanks Joy!

    Julie

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  22. We will be doing a similar flight very soon. I know that the last time I came back with hilarious character snippets so maybe it's flying or maybe it's something to do with flying to Israel.

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  23. great characters drawn. And yes a long flight turns everyone into zombies. Funny and glad you keep your shoes on - me too

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  24. When characters fall out of the sky....
    they shouldn't have gone with that bargain airline.

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  25. Rosalind - I remember how you had the special seats that reclined into a bed last time. Hope you have a wonderful trip, Rosalind!

    Joanne - It should be included in the passenger rule book! You are right about the zombies! Thanks Joanne!

    Al - The plane did feel a bit lighter now that you mention it! Well, that's the chance you take lingering next to the exit door!

    Julie

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  26. Now I'm having palpitations thinking about my next flight, haha :-)

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  27. Oh yes. Long flights are just so hard. I always keep netbook and kindle.

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  28. Vanessa - No worries, as our safety was never in question. Bring your note pad just in case!

    RR - You are wise to be prepared. It always helps to catch up on a good book.

    Julie

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  29. You sound like the kind of people watcher I am. I like to think about stories about everyone else. As for me, I try to hide and remain unobtrusive. I usually take off my shoes but hide my feet under the seat in front of me though no one can see. I like to imagine that I'm the most unnoticeable person on the plane, but the truth is that we are each noticed by someone.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Road trippin' with A to Z
    Tossing It Out

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  30. I'm glad you turned this into something useful. People watching is entertaining, but I like being able to escape if the need arises. On my only European vacation I had a kid seated behind me for nine hours poking his feet into the back of my seat. A family was sitting next to me and their kid wailed the entire flight, minus the last hour. An hour before landing he fell asleep. I really wanted to wake him up with mad glee as the plane descended, but I restrained myself. Barely.

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  31. Lee - It's true how even when we try our hardest to be invisible, someone always catches us at an inopportune moment. I'm glad you don't waste a moment looking for story ideas. That's why you're such a prolific blogger, Lee.

    Robin - I admire your self control, Robin. Sorry you were seated next to two miserable kids on such a long flight. My experience was a walk in the park in comparison.

    Julie

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  32. Yeah, I've been people watching, and then notice someone watching ME. Humbling, but very funny.

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  33. No better people watching then on a plane or in an airport. You see some really different stuff. I sooooooooooo agree about leaving your shoes on. We don't need the place to smell like a gym. I'm also totally amazed at how stupid people can be about it. Talk about dirty, they walk around without their shoes, to go to the bathroom.......egads

    Sandy at Bridge and Beyond

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  34. I love people watching, and also hope that I'm not the one being watched. Once I get on a flight I pull the hood of my hoodie shut tight like this, cross my arms, and fall asleep. It's a talent. I can just snooze on cue. Then I don't have to worry about nosy neighbors who want to know allllll about my flight, where I'm going, here's some pictures of my kids, etc etc.

    And really, I am a pretty social guy, but with my luck I always get sat next to characters like the ones you described above, so... I don't give them the chance to annoy me.

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  35. Dolorah - The worst part is the thought of strangers watching me sleep. Thanks so much, Dolorah!

    Sandy - Oh, yeah the guy with the major toenail problem had no trouble walking into the bathroom without shoes on. "Egads" is right! Thanks Sandy!

    B & B - Love the photo! I wish I had your ability to "snooze on cue!" It's like a superpower. I see another blog/book/movie/action figures/sequels coming on. Just remember it all started here B&B.

    Julie

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  36. People-watching is always a fun (and free!) pastime, but it IS a little disconcerting to realize those people are probably getting just as much of a kick out of watching US.

    Another fun post, Julie. :)

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    1. Susan - I'm sure if they looked long enough they could find a thing or two to poke fun at. Fortunately, most people are too locked into their electronic devices to care. Thanks Susan!

      Julie

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  37. Just stopping by to wish you a wonderful weekend! :)

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  38. Sounds like a fun way to spend time!

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  39. Lux - Thanks and I hope you had a great weekend too!

    Romance Reader - Yes, it definitely made the time fly by.

    Julie

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  40. Haha, sounds fun. I don't actually remember any horrible people on flights, but I'm sure they've been there. Normally I just like to plug in my earbuds and read.

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  41. At least you had such characters to keep you entertained during the flight.

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  42. Sarah - At only 15, you've traveled more extensively than I have, so you've probably learned to tune them out.

    Cherie - Yes, they were a very entertaining group!

    Julie

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