Giving Me The Eye
As a person who hates telling people “how it is” and prefers telling “nothing at all” I would have pegged myself as a big fan of letting facial expressions do all the talking, but a recent interaction proved otherwise. Of course we all communicate with our eyes, eyebrows, smiles, and when the situation is not important, I have no problem with that. But the stranger involved in this situation was playing a small but incredibly lasting role on my life. And the facial expressions were just not saying enough.
On a recent flight, I sat next to a priest, which sometimes can soothe me because they are very calming people, but can also freak me out because who is more welcoming to their own death than someone who is close with God? I wasn’t aware of this man praying quietly to himself the entire time we were airborne but when the plane settled smoothly on the ground, he looked me right in the eyes, nostrils slightly flared, lips gently pursed and bible tightly clutched in hand. His look was a sassy and sarcastic mix of “you’re welcome” and “thanks for nothing.”
It was as if he knew I hadn’t been praying like he was, as if this whole “safe flying” thing is a team effort and I had really let him down. He tried to cover it with his look of irritated disappointment, but I could tell he was secretly basking in his accomplishment of landing this plane with his prayers and his prayers alone. I could tell he wanted attention and applause for his work but instead he settled for freaking me the fuck out.
Was it all true? Is flying a team sport? Were we one “Hail Mary” off of sure death? Was there a prayer quota that has to be met in order to land safely? I have always thought of myself as a team player and I couldn’t bear to be thought of as anything less. I also couldn’t bear to board another plane without his man. That is the curse that comes with giving an ominous, but also incredibly revealing, stare to an over thinker with a fear of flying. Had I tricked death and was only able to live another chunk of my life until boarding another plane because of this man, because of his prayers?
I needed to know! But instead of asking him to clarify I stared at him, mouth agape, and mechanically reached for my backpack stowed under the seat in front of me. Because, turns out, I don’t speak with words or facial expressions when they end in confrontation.