You Never Know Where A Friendly Gesture Might Lead You
"This is my favorite part," I said to the redhead in front of me as we grabbed our belts, shoes and other miscellaneous belongings from the trays that run through the X-ray scanners at the airport security check point.
It was something I might have said to anyone in front of me in the same situation, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't noticed her seconds earlier as she went through the body scanner before me. I guess you could say that this was my comedic attempt at pre-flight flirting.
She was stunningly beautiful. She was wearing a tight white shirt that left little of her figure to the imagination, had a brilliantly red head of hair, and a smile that snatched my gaze as if there was nothing else in the entire airport worth looking at.
"Oh yeah, I wish I could do this every day..." I continued, joking and flirting casually while collecting my belongings.
The encounter was brief, nothing out of the ordinary, we were at an airport after all. The Reagan International Airport in Washington, D.C. I was headed back to Florida and, as far as I knew, she was heading to some far off land, never to be seen again.
After the brief exchange I walked towards the gate, not even paying attention to which way she went.
I didn't think much of it at the time. Just a little playful banter with a random stranger. A little airport humor to lighten up the all too intrusive process of the pre-flight screening process.
We Meet Again
As I waited to board the plane, I noticed that she was standing right behind me.
Pleasantly surprised to see her again, I said hi and introduced myself formally.
As we walked down the aisle of the airplane I noticed that she was still right behind me. I know because I kept looking back and checking to see when she would peel off and find her seat.
"You following me," I said as I looked back a third time to see if she was still there. It was the perfect continuation of the playful flirting that had started at the airport security checkpoint.
As we walked further down the aisle and got closer to the back of the airplane I started thinking to myself that I might actually win the airline lottery for once.
Losing The Airplane Lottery
You know what I am talking about. You get on an airplane, sit in your seat and watch at all of the people coming down the aisle; trying to determine which of them will fill the empty seat next to you.
You mentally will someone normal to sit down next to you (maybe that hot girl you were flirting with earlier) but they always end up walking past you. More often than not, you end up with some overweight mouth breather that wants to talk to you about online video games for the entire flight.
I happened to be traveling with a friend this time, so I knew at least one of the people I'd be sharing the row with but there was a wild card third seat, and the cute redhead from the security line was still behind me. There was still a chance.
Ben and I sat down and she kept walking. It was over. She would be rows away and I would have no chance to get to know her further.
Not A Total Loss
"21 F" said some guy behind me. Apparently someone was sitting in his seat. I look back briefly and when I did, I realized that all was not lost. There she was in the row directly behind me. Between some old man and an teenager who must have thought he was the airline lottery jackpot winner when he saw who he would be sitting next to for the entire flight.
Our eyes met again and by this point I was starting to get the feeling that there might actually be a little chemistry between us.
Over the next few minutes I looked back at her at least three or four times. I finally said, "Quit looking at me."
I Was Obviously Kidding
I had been rapping back and forth with some of the other people around me on the plane and while a number of us were laughing and talking back and forth, I found myself looking back in her direction way too often. I just couldn't seem to help myself. Her smile was addicting.
When the pilot turned the cabin lights off I looked back at her again and said "Well... This is not exactly how I pictured our first date..." which not only got a laugh out of her but from a few other passengers sitting around us that heard the witty one liner.
As the airplane took off, I leaned over and asked Ben if he would switch her seats when the pilot turned off the fasten seat belts light. I felt like I said it too loudly and hoped she hadn't heard me. At that point I wasn't sure how I was going to ask her to make the switch and I wasn't even all that confident that she would actually agree to do it.
I sat and thought about it for a while before turning to ask her, "Hey, want to switch my buddy seats so we can make this first date official?" It took her a second to register what I was asking and I actually thought she might say no for a second, but she didn't.
The time between asking her and making the actual seat swap felt like forever, but it was probably closer to 15 minutes. There was quite a bit of turbulence and I remembered the captain telling us to keep our seat belts on so I prodded Ben to just get up and make the swap.
We spent the rest of the flight chatting away. Not an awkward moment between us for almost two hours. At one point I remember wishing that the flight was a little longer so that we could keep the conversation going. Mostly I just wanted to know more about her. I wasn't ready for it to end.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" I asked as we began our descent.
"No," she replied. I followed up by asking her to go on a real date with me sometime soon.
I handed her my phone with a new contact entry screen open to exchange information during the descent. After her name she typed Airplane Date. It was her turn to be funny and I appreciated the humor.
Walking from the plane towards the baggage claim, we said a few final words as we prepared to go our separate ways. There was a little awkwardness at this point, at least in my mind, as I decided if this interaction had been hug-worthy. I decided not to push my luck. Her car was parked in a different lot than ours and she had not checked a bag. This would be goodbye for now.
I'm not sure where this road leads or if we will ever even see each other again, but it's too good a story to not think about how we might tell it at some party five years from now.
Maybe we are married and someone asks, "How did you two meet?"
We might look at each other and say, "Funny you should ask, actually."
Maybe she starts to tell the story of our security line encounter and then turns to me and says, "No you tell it honey, you tell the story so much better!"
Maybe I'll never see her again. Maybe this is just a fun little story about a chance encounter.
I kind of hope that's not the case because I would love to see that smile again, but this is life after all, and whom among us knows how any of our stories will actually end.
P.S. I am well aware that there are dozens of other outcomes to this hypothetical situation, but none of them would make as good a story. However, I would like to hear your thoughts so leave them in the comments below.