Tales of two couples

On the plane last week–

An older couple is sitting next to me: the man at the window, his wife in the middle, me on the aisle. He is looking out the window telling her what he sees. She says to him, “I don’t need a play by play.”

She is reading ads from the “Sky Mall” catalog. She begins to read them aloud to her husband. A giant crossword puzzle. Ear cuffs. A keyboard.

He listens but keeps looking out the window. “We’re preparing for take-off,” he tells her.

“You just be quiet,” she answers.

A mail sorter box. Storage bins. A bicycle rack for the garage.

“We’re in a line-up now,” he says.

“Hmm,” is her response. Eyes still on the catalog.

A watch. Fruit baskets.

The plane takes off, rising high above the Mall of America, the Missippi River, the Minnesota River. She stops reading aloud and puts the catalog back in the seat pocket in front of her. He takes his eyes away from the window. She rests her head on his shoulder; he rests his head on hers. They both go to sleep.


On the cable car–

Cable car conductor: “Hang on now. Watch the parked cars to your right. Watch the cable car to your left. Hang on now.” [In this era of lawsuits and liability it is hard to believe that people can ride the cable car--which goes up and down seriously steep hills on narrow and trafficked streets--standing on the running board and holding on, if they desire, to the poles.]

Despite the admonitions by the cable car conductor the woman in front of me, standing on the running board, is not hanging on. Going up, coming down. Relaxed, arms loosely hanging down, hands folded in front of her. Feet flat on the running board. Blonde hair up with a clip. Purple mascara. White tank top and shorts. White leather shoes. Gold rings on almost every finger, gold bracelet on each wrist. Based on her accent I’d guess she was European. Only a couple times does she reach a hand up past her companion’s shoulder to grasp the pole and it seems to be unrelated to the incline we are traveling at that moment. In contrast, her companion--I don’t get the feeling they're married--holds onto the pole the entire time. He appears about ten years younger than she does, although maybe her face just has more sun damage. He's a bit overweight while she is slender. He has sunglasses; she does not. To her all white clothing, he is in all blue–a blue print cotton collar shirt, button-down. Denim shorts. I can’t hear him talk so I can’t identify his nationality.

The couple got off at Lombard street, whose claim to fame is that it most crooked street in America. After our cable car had turned around near Fisherman's Wharf, we passed them on a street corner where he was taking a picture of her, his fearless older girlfriend with purple mascara.