I don’t want to sound like the opening monologue of a romantic comedy, but there is an interesting array of emotion on display at the airport. It’s just that most of it isn’t love, actually.
Unless it’s love of McDonalds and plug points.
The man opposite me is eating twenty-four chicken nuggets to himself. He’s chosen sweet and sour and Big Mac sauce and each to their own but those aren’t the choices I would have made. After a while his friend joins him. He’s got twenty-four nuggets, too.
Behind me a boy and girl are discussing their names. He says that if you have his surname in China, there’s a very high chance you are from his hometown. The girl says, And does it work the other way around? If you’re from there, do you have that name?
I can’t see him but I hear him take a sip of his drink and I sense that he is staring at her.
Two young boys, presumably brothers, sit at separate but neighbouring tables. It’s not cool to sit together.
After a few seconds the boy behind me says, No, it doesn’t work the other way round.
Something has happened in the nugget men’s group of friends. Something to do with one of their female friend’s boyfriends and basketball. They talk around it for a long time, but only ever refer to it as The Incident.
Another girl joins the table behind me. They like her hair. She says, It’s not my real hair. And they say, What?
And she says, It’s fake. Look.
But they are behind me and I can’t look.
Just as I think I might find out what The Incident was, an old woman is apprehended by two police officers a few feet from us and escorted away. Everyone is distracted by this. The nugget men, the girl with the fake hair, the boy with the surname, the cool brothers. And the truth slips from my grasp.
But there is revelation elsewhere.
A teenager is having the concept of an aphrodisiac explained to her. They can only explain in euphemisms, but eventually she understands. She thinks and then says, Well… I don’t like chocolate anyway.
Parents join the cool brothers. They want them, need them, to finish their food.
The nugget men have gone now and two women have replaced them. They are charging their phones and discussing setting up a facebook event – a prospect that both confuses and annoys them.
The companions of the girl who doesn’t like chocolate say, You can’t not like chocolate. And she says, I don’t.
And they say, You do.
And she says, I really don’t.
Mostly couples are silent.
Mostly singles are on their phones.
Mostly everyone looks anxious. Like they’ve got somewhere to be.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 24th August 2019 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.