That said, here's a totally humiliating...
To get back to the United States from 7-week internship in Shanghai (on a little less money if I could help it) I added a connecting flight with a stop in Tokyo Narita. I stepped off the first leg of my journey and into the terminal, foraging for yummy japanese food like an anteater standing over an ant hive. Sushi express, tempura udon, duty free rice cookers, japanese bread/rice, I was in heaven. (Except I didn't eat the rice cookers, I was just looking to buy one.)
Anyway, with about an hour and a half left until boarding, I walked over to the gate to find that no staff had yet arrived at the podium in gate station and so I decided to just put my stuff down and listen to my ipod. There were probably only 3 or 4 other people in the seating area for gate 55, so I just sat in the closest non-handicap seat. Unfortunately, these seats were on the back side of the handicap seats looking away from the gate station so, being OCD as I am, I didn't want to miss the boarding so I looked around the seating area for a more convenient place to sit.
...Just then, directly in front of me, a wisp of a black pony tail turned around to reveal an eye-catching surprise. Bold, curious eyes trailed upwards carelessly toward the top corners of her precious face. She lowered her gaze sweeping across a neat triangular nose. Her lips drew softly together, as though desperately holding back a clever secret, as she turned back around.
Just then, I completely forgot about the silent ipod in my hand. It took me a moment to come back to my senses before I remembered that I did not have headphones. Perfect opportunity, I thought, to kill two birds with a single proverbial stone. I stood up, trotted over to the duty free store directly to my left and picked up an orange pair of earbuds. On the way back, however, I chose a different seat. This time diagonally across from the beautiful object of my attention. It was the perfect seat.
I had chosen it such that the gate station was directly behind her head, so that any brief glances in her direction might be conveniently misinterpreted as just me checking out the flight status.
I smiled to myself, deeply impressed at my stalker skills, as I proceeded to "check out the flight status." She was wearing a maroon velvetty zip-up jacket over a printed light-pink T with white text of which I could only read "mpossible Christia."
She sat crosslegged link a yoga master on the gray canvas chair, with white-socked toes sprouting out from the crook of her knee. Over her black and white striped skirt rested a swiss-cross branded black backpack. She had both arms crossed over the backpack, and with an expression of ennui, rubbed her chin forwards and back across her arms. With a silver japanese branded suitcase sitting on the floor in front of her, I wanted to take a photograph.
I tried my best not to look creepy as I committed every detail of her appearance and mannerisms to memory, but I couldn't help but smile a little each time I tried to evade eye contact. I thought it was a good time to refill my empty plastic bottle with water and the gatorade mix I was carrying in my black computer bag.
With my right hand, I grabbed the plastic bottle off the floor, and with my left, looped the computer bag, by its neckstrap, over my head as I stood up. I turned around 180 degrees and went looking for a water fountain.
After passing several restrooms and crossing a (left-sided!??!!?!) moving walkway, I finally found a drinking fountain on my left right across the way from gate 53.
I pressed the black button as the strangely worded japanese sign requested and a stream of clear water shot out in a perfect parabola. I tasted it just to be sure it was potable, and then unscrewed the cap of the bottle and began to fill. Right when water started to leak out of the top, I released the black button, screwed on the cap and started making my way back to gate 55.
As I took step by step, I decided to practice a rather flashy way to mix a drink that I had learned in high school. Taking the bottle firmly in my right hand I spun it forwards and back, forwards and back. It seemed like I had gotten back my touch when I realized I was already back at gate 55 and somebody had taken my perfectly chosen seat. I decided on the seat two seats over to the left of my previous. For some reason, I continued to spin the bottle even as I was sitting down, causing me to miss the catch for the reverse spin. As the water bottle fell awkwardly to my side and into the metal groove between the seat cushions, I felt more than a little bit humiliated. I swore I heard a chuckle, but when I looked up, the girl hid her face behind a hand-written note on lined paper, which (I hoped) was the true cause of her laughter.
I used a level 2 creep skill, and tried to read the note through the back, since the paper was quite thin and the ambient light from outside the glass wall to my left was quite good.
I unzipped my computer bag and pulled out my gatorade mix pouch, tore open the hole and began to pour. As the mix was approaching 3/4 gone and I had to give a few shakes for the remaining powder to exit from the tear, I used the opportunity to look up at her lined paper between shakes.
While I was not quite skillful enough to decipher a single words, I could clearly see that markings were grouped in multiple blocks per line--a hallmark of a "word" based Western language, i.e. English.
As I capped off the bottle and began to implement my expert shaking technique, my excitement grew. Since the flight from this gate was heading to LAX, I realized she was most likely American! I put the bottle down by my foot and began running through the scenarios in my mind. Was she Christian? Was the note from her boyfriend? What's the worst that could happen? A restraining order? My roommate once had a restraining order placed on him but that didn't stop him from being a complete dumbass... Maybe it was worth the risk? I was almost daring enough to wave and say "Hi!"
Suddenly, our glances met!
I was staring at her the entire time (like John Dorian in every episode of Scrubs, like ever) and my train of thought was completely cut off. I panicked and instinctively looked down again.
Realizing, now, that the only reasonable reason for me to look down would be to look for something below me, I grabbed the only thing fitting that description. I uncapped the gatorade I had just made and took a hearty drink.
Over the next 5 or 6 minutes as her eyes wandered from the paper in front of her to somewhere in my general direction, I repeated this process a few more times, before I felt it was getting a bit obvious.
Quickly running out of ways to prematurely foil my potential love story, I finally listened to my manparts and realized that I had to pee. (I will skip the following part, as my toilet-life is already discussed in poetic detail in this post.)
Returning to my seat, I again put down my things, and tried to recall where I left off. As I tried to catch another glance at her, I noticed to the left of her subtlely grinning head that in fact, the gate station was now manned with three flight attendants. The one in the middle picked up an intercom microphone and muttered something in japanese. Then, in English, the stewardess said in surprisingly comprehensible English, "Please prepare your boarding pass and passport. We will soon be boarding all passengers for flight NH60 with service to LAX."
The maroon gem suddenly looked down and reached into her black backpack. She pulled out a long rectangular boarding pass, and then, (though my colon was freshly empty) I almost shit my pants as I saw a blue passport make its way out from behind the zipper. She seemed to be checking the boarding time on her boarding pass, turned the paper over a few times. Each inquisitive glance at that paper was like a passionate glance into my hopelessly romantic and extrapolating heart. I was stricken.
As she placed the documents back into her bag, I could see a flash through the backside that her seat was numbered 25G... My number was 24H.
She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen and she was American. I now had an unbreakable resolve to spend these last few minutes reinforcing my flimsy resolve to finally say hello. And besides, since we'd be sitting so close, I had a failproof plan....
The line to enter the plane grew long, but I waited until the last fateful announcement by the flight attendant. As her words echoed over the aiport intercom, the angel before me stood up, and I, as nonchalantly as I could, walked past her and made my way to the back of the line, taking my time letting a man in a gray wool suit pass me. I was determined to be as close as possible to this amazing girl I had yet to meet.
And as I walked forward, pulling out my boarding pass and passport, she came up rolling her silver suitcase from the opposite side of the line and came to a stop. Right behind me.
As the line began to move I almost died! I made casual glances to the left and right, each time catching a slight
glimpse of that heavenly visage.
I passed through the gate checkpoint with merely a nod as they ushered me forward. Unable to wait for her to catch up through the other turnstile, I pretended to "get lost" once past the glass. I made a big loop towards my left, looking up at imaginary signs, before turning correctly back toward the plane... just inches in front of this walking vision that had finally caught up.
I grinned connivingly as I heard the weight of her suitcase as she rolled it over the riveted threshold to the airplane.
I quickly hobbled up to my seat (in the emergency exit row) and put my small computer bag in the overhead compartment.
I turned back toward her and waited eagerly for my chance to be a hero... As she drew closer, I crossed my arms behind my back stretching in preparation for my painstakingly planned gesture of love!
But... she wasn't stopping. She didn't even slow down, as she walked completely past me without a glance. She stopped at 29G, now with four people standing in the narrow aisle between us. She dropepd down the overhead compartment. Struggled a moment for grip, but then effortlessly plopped her silver suitcase into the compartment. Fuck. Me. And. My. Astigmatism. So much for my failproof plan.
Anyway, since I'm not one to give up without pretending like I put up a fight, I quickly set off to devising another plan. Since this was, in a sense, a red-eye flight, there would be times when most the passengers would be asleep. I could then, during this quiet moment, pass a note to her. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a terribly awesome idea.
So. I waited.
And waited. Within an hour, I looked back to see her wrapped herself under a white blanket and a black eye-mask, presumably fast asleep. Unfortunately, she was probably the only unconscious person on the entire flight. Not only would it be ridiculously embarassing to write a love note with fully-awake neighbors, but it would be near impossible to deliver without arousing bizarre looks.
It seemed like the best and only course of action was to go to sleep. I ripped open the provided blanket, placed it over my exposed arms and placed the pillow behind my bed. Slowly, I closed my eyes...
"Bum Bum Bum. We are now making our final descent Los Angeles International Airport."
I looked up and back to see everybody awake. The captain had turned on the "fasten seat belt sign" and I could see the LA cityscape outside the window. Shit.
The plane landed without delay and as we were finally towed into the gate at Tom Bradley terminal, it was time to stand up and exit the plane. I thought I would give it one more try and wait it out like I did while entering the plane. But I did something stupid. I stood up to grab my suitcase. Once standing, I was blocking the aisle. And once in the aisle, I had no choice but to be pushed along by the flow of bodies ridiculously eager to be back on American soil.
I glanced back as I walked forward, but couldn't catch a glance of her as I exited the plane. I walked into the terminal and looked around. I didn't see her anywhere under the mass of heads rushing to the immigration clearance center. All I could do was keep walking and keep looking.
As I finally walked into the rightmost line for border inspection, I had all but given up hope. Just then out of the corner of my eye, I saw that distinctive silver suitcase rolling along. She was heading up to the entrance of my line.
It was now or never. I could either try to grab her attention now or let her walk by, counting this off as tragic content for one of my stupid TL blogs.
Without even pausing, she walked past the entrance to my line, the hood of her maroon jacket bobbing up and down with each step until it finally disappeared into crowd. I could only look down and mumble.
"I better get 5/5..."