Flying with stupidity.
I just boarded a plane leaving Boston. Took my assigned seat and sat next to a thirty-something professional looking woman reading a book. Since I was going to be sitting next to her elbow to elbow for the next two and a half hours I would attempt to start up a conversation. I asked her what she was reading. It’s a book of astronomy, she answered. Then went on to say she teaches astronomy at Wellesley. She continued to say she was on her way to visit an observatory located in the mountains of Arizona.
Then with unabashed ignorance I asked the astronomer lady, Wellesley? Is that a boy’s private prep school here in Boston? Then the conversation came to a sudden halt. She then tilted her face towards her book and said nothing. I did discover later Wellesley was a prestigious woman’s college at that time near Boston. Never the less I surmised I said something wrong. So I sat silent for a brief moment. Then the man sitting in front of me turned around and was talking to the Astronomer woman as if he knew her. So, I suggested to the man if he wishes to sit in my seat I would switch places assuming they knew each other. Which they did.
But before I could switch places the other man sitting in front of the Astronomy teacher suggested he switch places. And so she went forward one row and the fourth person came back and sat in the window seat next to me.
So then I started the conversation all over again. The man who took the seat next to me, I discovered, was a test pilot for the Air Force. So this time I let my seatmate do all the talking. But as the conversation continued I asked if he had read Tom Wolf’s book “The Right Stuff. Then the conversation went forward. Then I asked if he read James Michener book, “Space.” He had. Now the conversation was really happening. But then the Astronomer lady I insulted had turned around wanting to offer a comment or two of her own in regards to the test pilot’s and my conversation. At that point I could only smile. Then I asked the test pilot if he knew Chuck Yeager, the famed X-15 test pilot, or any of the other high flying and rocketing test pilots. I don’t remember if he said he did but the conversation continued with the three of us. Me, the Astronomer, and the test pilot. Such enjoyment we had for the next two and a half hours.