Beside a Tongue

We were flying to Canada. Pop was on the aisle. I sat in the middle. A young woman had the window seat. We didn’t know her. She was Israeli. Her English wasn’t perfect; my Hebrew was non-existent. We still managed to hold a decent conversation, she and I. She had an odd name—well, it was odd to me. It meant “tongue,” in Hebrew, I think. That’s what she told me, anyway. Why had her parents named her after an organ of the mouth? She was a babbling baby, or so she was told. Two younger girls from her group, perhaps sisters or cousins, were seated across the aisle, across from Pop. They spoke very little English. Aside from “Coke,” all they could say, apparently, was “You like her?” And, “You love her?” After repeating these question several times I confirmed that, yeah, sure why not? I liked this “Tongue.” She was polite and, seemingly, not nearly as chatty as she was as an infant. Surely she’d have more to say if I understood Hebrew. It’s a fair bet that I did most of the babbling. I wasn’t hitting on her. Not that she wasn’t cute, but I had some ten years on her. More than anything else, I was nervous about flying.* But the two younger girls giggled on like somebody had pumped laughing gas into the cabin. And even though Pop had his nose in a copy of Forbes for most of the flight, he assumed that he was the one being asked the questions from across the aisle. So he, too, answered, “Yes,” on the question of liking “Tongue.” The girls giggled, naturally. To be clear, nobody actually called her, “Tongue,” except, perhaps, in Hebrew, maybe. 

23 July 1997ish 

*[2/12/23: Indeed, the last time I prayed for my life, we were flying home from Canada (sans Tongue). Through the turbulence, I made a promise to the Almighty, “If I make it off this plane alive, I’ll never board another.” And, to this day, I’ve stayed true to that promise.] 

[2/12/23: “-ish” due to the fact that the year was neither specified on the page, nor anywhere in, or on, the notebook.] 

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