Who Is This Guy?

Jun 04, 2024 by Amber McClain Shaw, in Blog Posts

The affable man next to me seems to be known by the flight attendant and a few others on the plane. He didn’t have to pay for his snack meal. I begin to wonder if I should recognize him also. He’s on a no-frills JetBlue flight from Boston to San Jose and, like me, is in the middle of the plane. The only thing unusual about him is the empty seat next to him. Only empty seat on the plane. He’s wearing cargo shorts and has a kind smile and eyebrows that look like wings that might take him aloft if he was a bumblebee. Now that he’s snoozing with his mouth slightly open, I can study them. Those eyebrows are at least 1.25 inches long and are not laid down obediently flat on his forehead, they are angled out like windshield wipers. 

He is tall but his physique is more lifting of a beer than a barbell. Not, I assume, any kind of athlete. A little rumpled, not manscaped or manicured, so not a media figure. Not working on a laptop or a phone with the free high speed WiFi, so maybe not a businessman. I’m stumped. 

He asks me what I’m making. I put my knitting needles down and pause my Audible audio book, ready for anything to happen in this conversation.

“A blanket,” I say, and show him my 10 inches of knitting.

He says, “That will be warm. Where do you live?” 

“San Jose,” I say. Which is where our plane is landing, so not a big surprise.

“My wife knits too. She grew up in San Jose. You don’t need a warm blanket in San Jose. Why are you making a warm blanket?”

“It keeps me out of trouble,” I say with a smile.

“Well, maybe you will give it away. My wife does that. It takes her a long time to make them.”

He has given me a few clues about himself, and I’ve given him very little except where I live. His clues do not give me insight into why people seem to recognize him.

Then, he leans over to me across the aisle, “I gotta tell you, you are frickin styling in those shoes. You look like you are in high school. Nothing wrong with that!”

I smile at this unexpected turn of conversation. My stylish Converse hightops. I look at his shoes. Boots, size very large, not laced up all the way. With shorts.  Decidely not stylish.

When he gets up out of his seat, I see he is very tall. Not just average tall, but close-to-the-ceiling tall. He puts on a baseball hat that says Hollywood. He watches the news on the seatback monitor. I consider asking about the hat, but I don't.

Here we sit, trying to figure each other out, passing the time. Me, knitting in stylish youthful shoes, and him, seemingly well known but defying my attempts to observe any clues to his identity.

I enjoy the challenge, as I knit away the six hours, allowing my mind to wander. This is part of the reason why I don’t ever sleep on planes. People are too interesting.

I never did figure it out. But if I ever see a photo of him, I will definitely recognize those eyebrows.