06 December 2017

Meet Me in STL (a brief interlude)

Scene: Lambert St. Louis International Airport.

I’m finishing up some research on my layover when a man in his late fifties sits next to me at the charging station and starts a random chatty conversation. I have never understood why men in their late middle age want to talk to me. Like, can you not see I am nose-deep in Henry David Thoreau?

Anyway, he peppers me with friendly questions while we charge our iPhones on a power strip of dubious electrical safety. There's a steady patter: am I headed home, was I here on business, oh wow Nashville, so what was I doing, oh he’s an engineer so he wouldn't know about any of that but his daughter’s favourite class in high school is English, that’s really neat. I’m not really in the mood, but by this point it's impossible to follow what old Henry is saying (though really, what else is new) so what the hell. Besides which, having just recently finished boneless wings and a pretty decent craft beer, I'm feeling fairly amiable. (Also, this may have some bearing on my critical inability to follow Thoreau's train of thought. You'd think it'd actually help.)

Talk turns to his older son, in the Navy. He’s in IT, somehow; I can’t really follow because I don’t speak IT, but I ask where he’s stationed out of. The man pulls his baseball cap out of his carry-on and proudly shows me the embroidered USS Iwo Jima emblazoned on the front. I suppress a grin and tell him that by coincidence my cousin is also on the Iwo. We marvel a bit, the man and I, at how small the world sometimes is, and he wonders aloud if his son knows my cousin. By this point I am laughing. Hard. I tell him yeah, I’m pretty sure he does. The man is not convinced, because it’s a fairly decent sized ship, and what does my cousin do?

Well, er, he’s the captain.

So there’s a pretty good chance your kid has at least heard of him.

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