There were no clouds, no grime-coloured pollution. The view from the squat rounded window was stupefyingly beautiful. I could see Mzaar, Laqlouq, then the coloured-in rectangle quilt of the Bekaa, squashed jellyfish villages in a sea of brown earth, rising and rolling, and then the Syrian desert...
My mouth was in a perpetual "wow".
"Is it your first time flying over Lebanon?", boomed the voice from behind.
I turned to see a pair of dark brown eyes.
"No, I'm Lebanese. Bass hala2 tzakaret la aya daraje 7elo hal balad."
In the conversation that followed it became clear that we had more in common than the flight number. His wife was of the same origin as my other half. He showed me a photo of his son: a heartbreaker in the making.
"Fi tlet 7loul: ya btejeh te2e3deh 7addeh, ya ana be23oud 7addik, ya bet oulileh 7el 3annik"
"I'm not moving, my seat is great. You come on over."
He got up and sat down in 32D. I was in F.
He was going on a business trip. I was just in between. I would have rather not gone on this trip and I showed it by travelling with a single carry-on and my casual clothes. It was an obligation. I welcomed this man who would replace the ghost of a TV screen, which I was so looking forward to, on a three hour flight.
When he turned around to order another bottle of red wine, I gave him a once over. He was tall, six foot five or more, in a neat burgundy polo, crisp dark blue jeans, with a decent summer tan. His large nose protruded conspicuously; although it lacked the angled geometry of Adrian Brody's regal proboscis, it added a certain masculine integrity to his face, for his eyes spoke of feline sensuality that could ignite on innuendo. Even his lips, quite unseemly at first sight, would present the first word with a little purse and that expression would linger long after the sentence had drowned in the swarm of the aircraft's engines. Amidst his thick black hair lay elegant sporadic lines of silver. To sum him up: a handsome well-trimmed "plastic surgeon" with the face of a sly cat from a Far East Asian illustration.
When the on-board meal cart arrived, they were all out of fish.
"Don't start on the chicken yet, sometimes, you can manage to squeeze out the last dish, wait for me while I go and ask," he said as he got up.
He was back after a couple of minutes, "I'm sorry, it will have to be chicken."
By the time I was done with my meal, he was ordering a third bottle of wine, not without a teasing glance at my glass of orange juice.
"I prefer good wine," I replied in defence.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Can I take you out to dinner tonight?"
My stomach dropped to the swamp of hard decisions. Murky waters, murky morals.
This wouldn't be the first time I'd go out with a married man, and even though I didn't see it as something ethically criminal on my part, I was now in a very different place than I was back then. After countless one-month wonders, relationships that start intense and wane away, I was growing sceptical about their long-term benefits. The question of that week was: how many stories of "it was great until it wasn't" do I need to finally give up sideline distractions? And Mr.Aisle would definitely fall under that category. He'll be great until he has to return to married life.
On the other hand, I am a firm believer that we live moments of friendship, of love, of passion, as opposed to that false notion of permanent no-matter-what-till-death-us-do-part.
What if Mr.Aisle proves to be great company, an indefatigable source of joy and inspiration, just as Freud in his time was?