At the Airport Bar
At the airport to travel to Dallas for work today, I somehow (somehow!) found myself in a bar, waiting for my flight and eating breakfast with a double screwdriver. (Hey, it has orange juice—totally a breakfast drink. Besides, it was ALMOST 11:00 a.m.)
I’m a pretty introverted person and would rather not talk to people I don’t know, but something about airport bars makes people chatty. Anyhoo, a 70-year-old woman sat next to me, talking fast. I swear, the woman didn’t stop to draw breath. She went from one topic to the next as fast as she thought of it. When I saw her searching—hard—for certain, rather obvious words, I knew something was hindering her a bit. Dementia?
She asked what I was having, and I told her, so she ordered a double screwdriver too. I reminded her that it had vodka, just in case she was unaware of what it was, but she didn’t flinch.
And she talked and talked. She had an earnestness about her, and I was relieved she had pegged me as the soul to sit next to. Because I knew I would be polite.
It turned out that she had fallen three stories a few years ago, cracking her skull and suffering a traumatic brain injury that really should’ve killed her, the surgeon said (according to her). Ah, I thought. TBI, not dementia. And then she told me about all her meds, and I worried just a bit about her pounding that double screwdriver. Oh well. Too late.
As the minutes went by and I was able to get past the weirdness of having a stranger talk to me absolutely nonstop, I kind of started to enjoy listening to her. In fact, I egged her on, congratulating her chutzpah in her various tales. The woman had NO FILTER. Having a 70-year-old drop no less than EIGHT f-bombs in 30 minutes has an entertainment factor.
She talked about everything. Here are some highlights:
- “I told my daughter that if she keeps nursing that baby, who’s now 2 years old, her boobs are going to hang so low, she’ll be on the cover of National Geographic.”
- “I didn’t read Nancy Drew or that sort of thing. I learned about sex from the books my dad read. And he didn’t read Nancy Drew.”
- “I knew my parents were hot to trot. So finally, I asked my mother. How did I never hear you having sex when I was a kid? ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘We went outside to do it!’ The mosquitoes didn’t bother her. That says something. But you know, my father was a very handsome man.”
- “My daughter’s ex-boyfriend was so beautiful. So beautiful. I don’t know why it didn’t work out. I mean, she’s very pretty too. Although, her current boyfriend is pretty easy on the eyes, so it might work out okay. When I see him, he always gives me a hug. But don't worry, I don't do anything more than hug." (She gives me a sly look.) "Although . . . I certainly wouldn't mind . . . .” (I burst out laughing then, and she was as coy as could be.)
- “I was a good runner when I was younger. I ran races and stuff. Loved to run. But, you know. I learned to run because my cousins didn’t care we were related, they just saw I was a girl. It was the country, you know. So I became a good runner.”
- “When I was a stewardess for U.S. Airways in 1968, I didn’t wear a bra. In fact, I don’t wear one now. They’re so uncomfortable, don’t you think? I was very flat-chested. But the airline DID make me wear high-heels."
When it was time for her to go, she needed help calculating the tip, as she said her brain didn’t let her do math in her head anymore. Of course I assisted her, down to the basic math of which combination of her available bills would get her close to that number. Oh, this woman could get taken advantage of so easily. Hopefully, her lack of fear of telling people to eff off will protect her.
And this: Even though injury to her brain was compromising some of its function, I had the impression that I was still seeing the essence of her personality, the distinctiveness of her soul. And not only did that seem so incredibly lucky, but she seemed like a genuinely awesome person. I was glad we had double screwdrivers together. Before noon, no less.