Perhaps the only perk of passing through the murky hell that is LAX at Christmas time is witnessing the unbelievable droves of gorgeous unshaven men from all corners of the globe that are passing through at the same time as you. A few weeks ago, when I braved a red eye the Friday before Christmas to see my parents for yuletide and merriment, I encountered no fewer than three husbands before I even made it into the security line. What’s that, Mr. 6’4” Shaved Head? You’re traveling in a ripped tee and sweatpants to visit your family in Nebraska while on leave from active duty in the military? Why, of course you can reach over me to use this outlet to charge your phone while mine is five minutes away from dying…
Now, normally I am not one to do anything in airports except stare at my Kindle and pretend to read when really I’m trying desperately to ignore the shamefully intoxicating aromas wafting from the McDonald’s. In fact, I normally prefer Home Alone-style airport travel: run screaming through the airport all the way to your seat on the plane. But one cannot really take such chances when traveling at Christmas. So, like any good holiday traveler, I found myself at the airport over two hours before my flight. And of course I was through security in less than 15 minutes. Fantastic. Once I hurled myself shoeless through the metal detector and began schlepping through the terminal gazing upon husband after husband, I decided action needed to be taken. Yes, surely I’m meant to ride off into the sunset with one of these men… or at least make out for a little bit in the bathroom. Besides, I have two hours to kill – what the hell else am I supposed to do? And somehow I lost my belt… dammit!
So what do I do? What’s my amazing scheme to lure in an unsuspecting rugged traveler? I find a seat, plug in my phone and turn on one of my four gay social networking apps… wow. Here I am sitting in the middle of a hive of professional, delicious, eligible men and my gut reaction, the BEST I can do, is look at an app. Who am I and what have I become? Am I not the guy who flirts with Trader Joe’s employees and makes friends with the baristas at my local coffee shop? Do I not unabashedly leave my phone number for waiters I find exceptionally cute and captivating? Why, then, do I find myself so often turning to my phone?
As I sat utterly exasperated by my ridiculous behavior, I began to look around. I noticed everyone, and I do mean everyone, ages 5 to 75, staring into their various devices, oblivious to those sitting inches away from them. And in that moment I remembered that it isn’t just me. Gay or not, it is simply easier to hide behind a device than to exert the energy for real live human interaction. Even as I type that sentence, I feel my heart turning into an Apple product… but it’s so true. I am constantly having to rip myself away from doing God knows what on my phone so that I can pay attention to what is actually happening in front of my face. Like, for example, when I’m sitting in the middle of a crowded airport at Christmas, a setting that is just bubbling with romantic potential (Planes, Trains, and Automobiles meets Brokeback Mountain), and I am choosing to diddle with my phone. What does this mean? Am I reeking of gay stereotype? Do I want to live a life of superficiality??
And, in a split second, all of these thoughts are completely obliterated by a light buzz on my knee. Gasp! Someone has sent me a message! A bearded man from North Carolina – and he’s only 300 feet away! My eyes shoot up from my phone and begin to dart around as I nonchalantly let my phone drop to my side so as to not look like I’m looking around… I wonder where he is? I peruse the hundreds of people in my proximity before casually lifting my phone back up to investigate further. Turns out he’s already aboard a plane to Sydney and is wondering if I’m on there with him. Oh how I wish, dear traveler. Mile high club, anyone? I look across the terminal and see the gate for that flight. Hmm, Australia at Christmastime; maybe I could trade in my ticket… eh, probably not a good idea. We have a few more exchanges before he has to shut down his phone for take off. Sigh.
In this moment of serenity, I remember a very important fact: I’m in a freaking airport – who really wants to socialize? My flight is a four hour red eye across the country and by my count will have three dogs and at least 10 young children and/or babies on board. Yeah, I think my phone and Kindle will do just fine. Besides, I’m sure I’ll chat with at least a few other travelers on my journey who I will likely never meet nor will I ever hear from again. Ho ho ho!
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