I am sitting in an airport waiting for a connecting flight, which now has a 40 minute delay. This is a sudden trip. My brother-in-law Elliot passed away yesterday, and I am headed back to the Midwest for his funeral. His health had been failing for some time, so his death was not a surprise.
Still, the inherent urgency when we receive these calls, and the manner in which they force us to make lightening-speed changes to our schedules and routines, is unsettling. In the last 24 hours I’ve mentally vacillated between the realization that someone I loved very much is gone, to still managing to find humor from the freneticism of packing, making flight and rental car reservations, and regrouping with family and friends to honor and remember this wonderful man.
I am fairly certain that he’s experiencing a medium of diabolical comfort from my hardships at the moment. That’s how he rolled.
Elliot was a kindred spirit when it came to observing the ironies and foibles of the human race. Or families, which depending on how you define things, do tend to sit on the fringes of the animal world. He was the only other person I personally knew besides myself who watched Marlin Perkins every week and never failed to see traits that made him question the scientific principles of heredity.
I could always count on Elliot for silent, inappropriate humor during Thanksgiving meals, high holiday observances, or formal ceremonies at public settings. He would look at me to raise an eyebrow or make a sideways glance that would convey the slightest touch of non-verbal, observational sarcasm. His wife (my sister), wily to this tendency of his, would cast a disapproving look, which would only add to the hilarity at our later rendezvous when we would verbally compare our snarky observations.
It’s my belief that our hijinks were done to illustrate that no matter how great our accomplishments, how learned and perhaps even cultured we might someday become, there would always be a few of us who somehow never managed to shed that 13 year old teenager that still lingers within us.
Elliot wasn’t my role model, nor was he my alter ego. We were just too different. Nevertheless, we did make utter fools of ourselves sometimes.
As a tribute then, I offer the following observations as I sit in a very crowded gate area. I think he would approve…
RINGTONES are very distracting. I never really notice them much in my normal life, but when a group is all actively involved in the exact same activity (i.e., waiting), their phones tend to make to make lots of noises that I personally find to be déclassé. Of course, my own tone of “Carpet Crawlers” is elegant.
INTIMATE anecdotes are being shared right and left by my fellow passengers without any effort to conceal information. I mean, why bother? None of us will ever see the other again, right?. Still, I do have to wonder if my overhearing about how someone’s boss having an affair with his previous wife is a good idea. Ditto for the brother of a woman who just learned he’s under investigation for bank fraud.
A WOMAN just stood up to remove her bra from under her shirt, folded it, and then placed it in her carry-on bag. She then smiled at the couple sitting across from her. Technically I don’t think that was a wardrobe malfunction.
BARBEQUE ribs can be eaten eaten while sitting at an airport gate and wearing a suit and tie! This guy must have been inspired by reading Bonfires of the Vanities.
That’s all, folks. Boarding starts in seven minutes. This one is for you, Elliot.
Until next time…