Whatever is the matter with you young man?
The stentorian honking of a well-heeled
Accent boomed across the aisle.
Here I was, my maiden solo flight
From New York home to London,
And already I was meeting destiny.
From books and movies I had learned
That single men on airplanes regularly
Rendezvous with sultry women sipping fancy drinks
Who offer to accompany and comfort them
On trips a mile high.
But me? I found myself confronted
Not by an ingénue or leggy blonde
But by a feisty white-haired spinster barely
Five foot two, returning from a conference
Of the worldwide Girl Guides and Scouts
[or WAGGGS as they prefer to say].
She had an eagle eye and vice-like grip
And in me discovered ample room to exercise
Her love of advocating health
And wellness in the young.
To quote: I noticed from the first the way
You hunch your shoulders when you walk
Your posture is abysmal – and what’s your name?
Now stand up straight, set your head high
And for God’s sake pull your gut in
Like a soldier!
Reluctantly, I acquiesced and found myself
Parading back and forth between the seating sections
Head erect and cheeks ablaze
Desperately wondering how I might escape
The ministrations of this geriatric Amazon.
All the while the pretty girls sipped their drinks
And smiled at me.
But not like in the movies.
It takes many hours to fly across the Atlantic…
One thing I will say, though,
That even after thirty years
I never take a plane without first
Standing straight and sucking in my gut,
Whatever is the matter with me.