She looked like a grandmother. Not like either one of my grandmothers but a grandmother nonetheless. Her hair was white and her face tanned and wrinkled in a distinguished kind of way. The way that, should you have a face like that, you can just thank your lucky stars for it. There’s nothing you can do to make your face turn out that way.
I was startled to see the face, distinguished as it was, because it seemed to appear out of nowhere and it was very close to my less distinguished face. I had just been sitting there, next to Wife, and while I had noted that she had stood up, I didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the world.
After all, we were on an airplane. I thought that maybe she just wanted to stretch her legs.
The old lady’s face was where Wife was supposed to be sitting, and it was trying to say something to me.
She put her hand on my shoulder and tilted her head a little. She looked a little worried.
“Have you had anything to eat?” she asked me.
The question surprised me even more than seeing a stranger’s face in front of me and feeling her hand on my shoulder. Like I said, we were on a plane, and the food had been served an hour earlier. Not only had I eaten my meal, I had also eaten Daughter’s dessert and bread and bits of Wife’s meal.
“Yes,” I said.
“Good,” she said, and then seemed to realize she had made a mistake.
“No, you’re not him,” she said and pulled her hand back.
I saw that she said something to Wife who sat down with a big sad smile on her face. Sad because she was touched by something the old lady had said and smile because she thought it was still hilarious.
“What?” I asked her as I watched the lady walk up the aisle again.
“She thought you were an unaccompanied kid she’d seen before,” she said, and by then, she wasn’t smiling anymore. She was laughing out loud.
“What?” I asked her again, baffled.
“She must have looked at your … baseball hat!” By now, Wife was howling. “She saw you sitting there, with your hat on backwards and your headphones on, and she thought you were a young lad traveling by himself.”
I started to laugh, too. It was so silly.
There I was, sitting in my seat wearing a Mets hat and headphones, in a Back to the Future T-shirt. Wife and I laughed so hard there were tears in our eyes.
Then I realized that while the old lady probably hadn’t seen my T-shirt, she may have noticed I was in the middle of movie.
Which one? “Despicable Me 3”.
All I could do was point at my screen and laugh. When we finally stopped laughing and could breathe again, Wife had the same sad smile on her face as before.
“You know, she thought the boy may have already gotten off the plane,” she said.
Obviously, he had turned into a middle-aged man.