Sorry I didn't live up to my promise of writing in my blog every day of Lent. But I'm back now, and I'm going to try to write as much as I can. Here's something from Easter weekend...
My parents dropped me off at LAX at 9am. My flight back to South Bend didn't leave until 2:15, but theirs left at 10:30. I had some time to kill, and there wasn't much to see at my concourse aside from a McDonald's and a couple of shops cluttered with best sellers, those weird horseshoe travelers pillows that had suddenly become popular, a few bags of potato chips and some viscose scarves. I planted myself on a terribly uncomfortable black leather chair at my gate, cracked open my David Sedaris book, and held my camera close, ready for the celeb siting I was sure I would experience. It was Easter weekend, and my sister and I reasoned that it was the perfect weekend for celebrity airport sitings.
My roommate Erin was obsessed with celebrities. Whereas I felt guilty at the amount of knowledge I had about famous people and their families, Erin actively sought it out. She complained about having too much homework and not enough time to finish it, yet she somehow had time to study Perez Hilton's blog every half hour or so. When I told her I was flying out of LAX, she got excited, squealing "ooh! Maybe you'll see a celebrity-- like Zac Ephron or David Beckham," but then corrected herself, "oh, no, David Beckham's in England right now." She was the first among my friends and me to learn that poor Sandra Bullock's husband had cheated, and she kept us all updated on the disappearance of the actor who played "Boner" on Growing Pains. As much as her celebrity stalking sickened me, I had to admit that the thought of seeing a famous person in the flesh got my heart beating as much as finding the perfect pair of red patent leather shoes in my size at TJMaxx.
So there I sat, next to the gate for the LA to NYC flight that left at 11:30. I scanned the crowd, acutely aware of anyone wearing sunglasses or a pair of heels that seemed too fancy for the average traveler. I wasn't sure what a celebrity flying United airlines would look like-- would he or she be accompanied by two bulky bald bodyguards? Would they be wearing normal clothes like the rest of us-- even if it was Lady Gaga or Cher? And then I wondered why a celebrity would be flying United at all-- don't they all have private jets? I hoped I'd see an obscure celeb that only I recognized, like the indie artist I was into at the time, or one of the one-line actors from an ABC Family Channel show that not many people watched.
I didn't see any celebrities that day. I spotted a man who looked remarkably like my Uncle George but was too afraid to snap a picture. My family saw the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers at MKE, but after an hour or so of pretending to read while periodically scanning the concourse, I got sleepy and crawled into a corner to catch a nap.
Howevever, I did have the pleasure of sitting next to the most beautiful Brazilian man I'd ever seen. I'm not sure that I'd ever seen another Brazilian man before that, it's true, but this man deserved a title, so I awarded him in my head with "most beautiful Brazilian man I'd ever seen." His hair was dark black and was perfectly manicured as if he'd perhaps come all this way for an American haircut. His skin was a perfect caramel, the color of my tan leather Fossil purse, and glowed from the California sun. I can't remember what he was even wearing as I was so focused on his immaculate face-- cheek bones perfectly chiseled as if from stone. But I did notice the homely woman he came in with-- hair dyed blond, but her greasy brown roots growing through. She clearly hadn't visited the salon with my Brazilian dream boat. Her skin was orange, and her nose protruded from her face at a dangerous angle. The woman shoved her Disneyland bag into the overhead compartment and made her way to a seat a few rows back.
My stomach did a turn as he sat next to me. Realizing we were in the bulkhead seat and he couldn't have anything in his lap, the stewardess asked him if she could stow his blue camera bag for him. He looked at her blankly, and when she took the bag from his lap, he stood and started speaking rapidly in a foreign language.
"Do you speak English?" the stewardess asked him.
"No, Portuguese," he responded.
"Oh, then you can't sit here."
Again, he stared at her blankly. The stewardess spoke louder, as if that would make him understand her, and motioned to tell him she was going to change his seat.
"No, I... here," spoke the Brazilian Dreamboat.
"I'm sorry, you can't sit in an exit row if you can't understand me."
The stewardess went on about how she only spoke Italian and that wouldn't help her communicate with him in case of emergency. Brazil just looked at me with the most precious half smile, and we shared a soft laugh.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi," I said back.
And in that moment, I almost asked the stewardess to move me with him. He never would have known how we ended up next to each other again. I'd never had the urge to carry on a conversation with someone on a plane. Most often, I'd be asleep before we had even left the ground. but on this day, all I wanted to do was sit next to Brazil and ask him how to say "hello" in Portuguese. I imagined him laughing at my pronunciation and me trying to peice together some Spanish from high school in the hopes that he might understand it a little better.
"Yo studio Espanol en escuela," I would say, and he would smile the other half or that half smile and think I was adorable for trying.
All my dreams of a whirlwind romance with Paolo, as I named him, were shattered when the flight attendance moved him to a seat next to the woman he'd boarded with.
"Here, you can sit by your girlfriend," she said, as if she were doing him a big favor Paolo shook his head, and I know I wasn't imagining it, looked my way and said, "sister." I smiled a half-hearted smile at him and glared at the woman who had practically murdered our potential children-- Marisa and Paolo Junior. An overweight businessman took his place, and I pulled out my sleeping mask and was out before we left the ground.