Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I'm not an alcoholic

Chicago earned its name of the "Windy City": I caught cold while I was there and yesterday I was every airplane traveler's worst nightmare: a feverish, sick and highly contagious passenger. I was also very tired, probably a combination of the cold and the lack of sleep from the weekend.
The net result was that I was a complete wreck as I boarded the plane. I kept my sun glasses on and covered myself with the plane blanket, letting my head rest on the window. One guy gets in the aisle seat. He is carrying a pizza box that he puts on the empty seat between us. The smell from the box is overpowering even to my congested nose. It is not even 11:00 AM. Passengers are still coming in but he proceeds in eating the pizza all the while trying to make conversation with me. Usually I am game for that kind of short encounter: I love the small window into the lives of perfect strangers. Today though I am sick and my answers are terse and not very coherent. It does not seem to bother the man who keeps on talking and eating. He is now giving advises and asking questions. I am silent hearing his quasi-monologue: "Well! You have to pay at one point after having all the fun last night!", "Sun glasses! Nothing better to keep bright lights away!", "I figure it's lunch time somewhere in the world (looking at his pizza), for some it's not even breakfast time it seems...". All the sentences are punctuating by a large smile, almost a laugh, as if he was happy and proud of his humor. He then proceeds to give me recipes for hangovers. Perhaps because of the fever that made my body aches, my thoughts were not organized as they should have been. Until that point I had not realized that he was thinking "alcohol damage" when looking at my obvious misery. I don't even have the energy to set him straight. That would require talks, dialogue. More than I can muster. I am saved by the arrival of another man who takes the middle seat. I am not the only person to talk to. The two start to talk about army and national guards. I fell asleep in this sleep only known to the sicks and the drunks...


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