Monday, September 3, 2012


Debbie, in 11D, has the window seat, and every time a bead of water condenses in the ceiling panels and drops on her head, she tells me about it. Between the water torture and a high pitched squeal that now fills the cabin, Debbie is convinced she is being punished by the employers that sent her on this business trip.

"Yeah?" I ask. "Any idea what you did?"

"Oh, there's plenty!" Debbie assures me. By time the pilot announces we are in a holding pattern over Dallas, that we have been waiting for the radios at the airport to come back online but now we are running out of fuel and will return to Houston, Debbie is convinced. She deserves this. It would probably be worse, but there's a priest a few rows up. And it perhaps is because of this fatalistic mood that she changes the subject.

"What's your name?" Debbie asks me, and when I say Kendra she wrinkles her nose like I'm wrong.

"I would have said Cynthia," Debbie says. I ask how one knows a Cynthia, and Debbie doesn't skip a beat. "Cynthias are wholesome and down-to-earth and intelligent and kind. Every last one." Kendras, it turns out, are harder to pin down. You can't stereotype a Kendra. "I've known outdoorsy ones and ones that party 24-7," Debbie says. "One thing you can count on, though: a Michael is no good."

I enquire if it matters if said Michael goes by Mike or Mikey or M. Debbie, who is always mistaken on the phone for Cathy, thinks a moment and then shakes her head. "No. They're all just as bad."

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