Memories from an Airplane

About a year and a half ago, I was on a plane heading to San Francisco for work. While waiting in line, I saw a very attractive young lady. I assumed she was older than me, but I’m bad with guessing ages. As we lined up to get on the plane, a different woman asked if there was a line. I said, “Your guess is as good as mine. It’s sort of turned into a mish-mash of people just shuffling forward.” As the lady smiled and thanked me, the girl, who clearly overheard, chuckled slightly.

I loaded onto the plane and put one of my bags down in a seat near mine so that I could put my other bag in the overhead compartment. After I put my bag in storage, I noticed the girl was standing there, waiting. I apologized for holding her up and stepped out of the way, only to watch her sit in the seat next to my bag. I moved my bag and sat down next to her, but realized I had put my bag in the wrong seat. I quickly tried to correct my mistake, and offered her the window seat, but she said it was no big deal, and insisted she was fine sitting where she was.

We ended up chatting for the bulk of the flight, save for a few minutes when she fell asleep (it was an early flight). As it turns out, she’s from the San Francisco area, but was visiting her mom, who lives in a city near mine. Eventually, toward the end of the flight, she told me she was going to be back in a couple of months. I said, “Awesome! If you want someone to show you around when you’re back, I’d be more than happy to.” She said that would be great and we exchanged numbers.

For a few weeks, we exchanged occasional texts, but the content was shallow, and the responses were infrequent. I started to think maybe she’d just given me her number because she didn’t know how to say she didn’t want to. And I was content with that. I even felt a little bad for asking in the first place once I began to assume that might have been the case. Why did I feel that way?

Because women are scared to reject men, and rightfully so in the vast majority of cases. She could either say, “Sure, here is my number,” and slowly stop texting me from several states away, or she could say no and I could be a lunatic that follows her home. The flight was just over an hour long, so it’s not as though she could really gauge my character, so she had no idea how I’d respond. So giving me her number and then slowly cutting off contact is much safer. And because I knew that, I wasn’t upset with her.

I was sad that we got along for the duration of the flight, and now I wouldn’t get to continue getting to know her. I was disappointed that she would be back in a couple of months and I wouldn’t get to show her around, because I love giving people a tour of my stomping grounds. But ultimately, I knew I’d get over it, because I’d “hung out” with her for less than two hours, and texted her on and off for about two weeks. It wasn’t as though she had any significant impact on me. So I did get over it. And it didn’t take long.

Even that response feels like a bit much though. My sadness over the situation seemed, even then, unwarranted since I barely knew her. Being hung up on it and disheartened even for the couple of weeks that I was seemed excessive. But being sad is the natural response to being excited about the prospect of something, and having it fall through. It’s okay to be disappointed. It’s normal to be disappointed.

What isn’t normal, though, is to harbor those feelings of resentment and let them manifest by way of shooting up a fucking school. And pretending that behavior is even the slightest bit normal or rational by saying, “He was rejected by one of the victims,” only serves to further perpetuate this culture of violence that we find ourselves living in today. Everyone pointing to this girl rejecting the advances of someone she wasn’t interested in as the reason she and her classmates are dead needs to stop and really reflect on what they’re saying. This is a level of victim-blaming that I hoped we’d never reach. “If she didn’t want to get shot, she should’ve just gone out with him”? Is that really where we are?

Men: Please, prepare yourselves for the notion of being rejected. It will happen. It will hurt. And you will get the fuck over it. Because that’s life and that’s what happens. (Note: I’d direct this to all genders, but men are the only ones shooting up schools)

Everyone else sympathizing with this wretched piece of filth because a girl said no: Shut the fuck up.

Memories from an Airplane

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