I had gathered enough information, simply sitting across from her in the airport, to begin to hate her. When I first saw her, I had experienced a very different sensation. Taking in her manicured, shining nails, the bracelet on her right wrist that matched the watch on her left, the perfectly straight auburn hair—the color I attempt to achieve with each successive dying, but haven’t quite yet managed to create. Her boots matched her belt matched the fitted turtleneck sweater that complemented her bosom and showed no trace of even a misplaced atom. How could I have hated her? I wanted to be her.
She was everything I could imagine a person wanting to achieve. Her squared leather attaché with a dozen zipped and squared-off compartments taunted my lumpy rucksack. Nothing bulged or sagged out of place for her. Everything with its own form-fitted compartment, its own zippered black case. The minuscule flip-phone, the 3-by-4 digital organizer. The zippered wallet of postage stamps and pens.
She was addressing her Christmas Cards: adding a handwritten note in black ink to the black-and-gold on white cards. Tasteful. “Peace on Earth,” they said on the front, nicely straddling the line between secular and religious.
A familiar enough sound: ripping paper. A card. How does one like her measure imperfection? Did a single misspelled or misplace word warrant this eruption? Or had she suddenly recalled a feud, a slight last year. Enough to shred an embossed Christmas card?
She looked to be young or my age: mid-twenties. To have such flawless fingernails, delicately-framed glasses. I could not decide whether the smooth, stacked boots were chic and pricey or discount-store knock-offs. Brand new, it was sometimes hard to tell.
She was perfect. I was surprised she was alone. Where was her precisely chosen trimming. The other end of the flight, certainly; it would be for him she carried the phone, wore the pager. Could anything be so important that one would wear a pager on her belt in the airport the day before Thanksgiving?
I had heard this portion of the video before. Theory would have it that CNN would always deliver fresh, up-to-the-minute news. Why were the flight delays and hours in armless straight-backed naugahyde chairs not anticipated? How dare they call this “the latest news”?