Stuck In Heathrow

This unplanned trip to London gave me a chance to connect with friends. The past three days were a whirlwind of old faces seen with new places. I told everyone that they looked the same and added the bon-bon compliment, “Have you lost weight?”

Even the most jaded of my friends fell for that line, but few of them preen before mirrors anymore, for narcissism best served the young

At art galleries, museums, parks, and restaurants we caught up on the years. Everyone was kind enough to return the compliment that I hadn’t changed since the last time they saw me in 2000. I smiled in the glow of their lies and after a few drinks I almost believed them.

My cousin Sara held up a reality mirror during last night’s ride from Brixton. “You’re a few months shy of 60. You’re not 20 anymore.”

“I know, I know. My children have changed my life.”

“Changed?” She snorted with familial derision. “Your life is the same as it ever was. Work, get some money, write, travel. What’s the change?”

Family and friends are ruthless after a few drinks. And we had a few more glasses at her house and I fell asleep on the floor watching a bootleg version of HUGO.

In the morning I ignored the cellphone’s playing an insipid song, however the caller persisted in attempting to reach me. I finally shrugged off the wraps of a mild hangover and pushed the answer tab on the screen with the intention of telling the person on the other end to call me later.

“I’m at the airport waiting for my flight at 3.” It was Persian Nick. The TV producer was a busy man. During the week he had less than a half-minute to field my calls. “3?”

I checked the time on the cellphone. “That’s four hours from now.”

“There’s a reason.”

“You’re incredibly anal and have to be at the airport hours before departure.” That was my modus operandi.

“No.” This was a guessing game. “You flight was cancelled.” “Close.”

“You missed your flight.” “Correct.” Persian Nick was heading off Istanbul to celebrate his wife’s 40th birthday. He had arrived at the airport too late. This was not a good start for a holiday and he knew it.

“Is Maid Marian shopping at Duty Free.” It was the standard punishment for missing an international flight.

‘No, she’s catching up on her reading.” His wife was a good woman. She loved Persian Nick and she loved a book. One more than the other.

“Wish her happy 40 for me.” They had been together more than 23 years. Persian Nick had fallen for her at an early age.

“I’ll do that.” Persian Nick suggested that we meet on Monday. “I get back Monday morning.”

“If all goes according to plan.” Missing flights not something you wanted to repeat twice on the same trip.

“It will.” He hung up and I went back to sleep.

My flight wasn’t leaving until next week.

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