Separately and as a group, my family suffers from obliviousness, though in all of us it takes different forms. I firmly believe that I am invisible, and it comes as a wild shock to me when others notice my existence. A good deal of the world is invisible to the spouse. The son apparently has little clue that there is a world beyond his home, school and computer, and the daughter? Oh, the daughter. She is the daughter.
Recently, the spouse was sent off on a business trip. This is not uncommon, and as usual, the trip was last minute and came at a most inconvenient time. Between the two of us, we arranged, but nonetheless, he had to fly a zillion miles to the back of beyond--nice back of beyond, but back of beyond--and then turn around and fly back a zillion miles home a few hours later. I pointed out that I once did a 48-hour trip to Puerto Rico, and he pointed out that I had gone to a concert, not a site visit at a really nasty site. He had a point.
In any event, I packed him off and off he went with ill grace, and he flew, and he arrived at his destination and he called me when he arrived.
He sounded uncommonly giddy.
"I had a really nice flight," he trilled. "I sat next to the nicest fellow. He said he's an actor."
"Mmm," I replied. The flight originated in Los Angeles. Everyone here is an actor.
"He told me about some of the movies he'd been in," the spouse persisted. "I haven't seen any of them..."
"Mmm," I replied, thinking that the person had probably been an extra. I admit that I'm a bit jaded, having done my time in the entertainment industry.
The spouse mentioned that the individual in question had a part in a film that had been nominated for an Academy Award some years back. "I don't think he quite believed me when I told him I didn't know who he was," the spouse laughed, "but I told him that you'd probably seen all the movies he'd been in."
"Mmm," I murmured.
"His name is..." the spouse said a first name, and then quickly slurred the last name.
"Mmm," I responded.
His taxi arrived to retrieve him and he promised to call me the next morning when he'd completed his site visit.
It was as I was hanging up that I put the name of the movie and the 1/2 a name of the actor together. I called the spouse back.
"YOU SAT NEXT TO...?" I shrieked and named a name.
"That's what the last name was!" the spouse laughed. "I'd forgotten exactly what it was. So you know who he is?"
"AGH!" I cried. The kids and I had tried to get him to watch another movie the actor was in over the summer, and then I'd forced still another film on the daughter, who promptly fell in love. "Your daughter is going to kill you," I told him when I finally had breath.
Said daughter appeared in the doorway and yelled, "DAD SAT NEXT TO WHO?"
And I told her and she fell against the door jamb, uttering a classic little moan of dismay.
"So everyone knows who this person is except me?" asked the spouse with amusement.
"Evidently," I told him drily.
"He's the nicest guy. We talked about travel and motorcycles. I told him that he really needed to visit the Canadian Rockies," the spouse said, the pleasure in his voice laced with the tiniest bit of smugness.
And given the length of that flight and the general awfulness of the trip, I certainly didn't begrudge the spouse the fun he had that evening. And truly, the spouse is the nicest guy, so his seatmate really lucked out, too.
The daughter, however, still gets a bit tetchy when the subject comes up. "It's a bit of a sore point," she allows, "that Dad had all the luck, and didn't even know who he was sitting next to."
Go listen to some music: "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)" from the album Greatest Hits by Simon & Garfunkel.