Hand on a thigh: waking with a difference on a long haul flight

On my recent overnight flight from China to Australia, I found myself seated in a row of four with two seats free and a woman at the other end of the row. Dinner was eaten, a movie watched and then each of us sttempted to get comfortable for the night. We tried to stretch out on two seats each, without much success. So I suggested she stretch out her legs and lie against the seat backs and I would stretch out in reverse and lie down in the remaining space. So we were able to lie down at full stretch, heads at either end of the row of four seats. I found a pair of smelly socks close to my nose, my consolation being that my socks were even more aromatic beside her nose. But I soon fell asleep. Some hours later I woke to find my hand resting on her somewhat ample thigh. I sheepishly removed it and smiled a good morning.

I was not quite sure what to expect: a slap or a kiss good morning. Instead, she was keen to talk and asked me what I did. I mentioned writing on Marxism and religion, researching in Australia and teaching in China, my children, travel etc. She, it turned out, was the head of a major company, married and with a brood of children. To top it off, she was a fundamentalist Christian who had found the command to obey her husband immensely helpful – she told me with Bible in hand. She was used to calling all the shots, so it was a relief to be able to let him do so some of the time. So on we chatted until the plane landed. But neither of us mentioned my wandering hand or her thigh. At least it broke the ice.

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6 thoughts on “Hand on a thigh: waking with a difference on a long haul flight

  1. Long-haul plane trips can be hilarious! When I travelled from Aus to London the first thing my seat companion said to me was, “Oh, good! You’re not a big, smelly man!” All I could do was blink at her and reply, “You’re right, I’m not. Thank you for noticing!” We became fast friends after that (though, thankfully we definitely skipped the awkward hand-thigh positioning you experienced!). Fun post – thanks for sharing!

  2. Well, being a fundamentalist she might have thought it was ‘the hand of God’ (apologies to Diego Maradona, who used this phrase to justify his palming the ball into the goal to win the football World Cup for Argentina).

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