Returning to L.A. from Utah on Saturday, I took a JetBlue flight from Las Vegas to Burbank. I’d finished everything I’d brought to read and entertained myself by watching other passengers board and file past my seat. I invented the following game, which I invite you to try: Imagine that each person passing by is a poet.
It was surprising to me how many of them looked as much like poets as your average poet does on an airplane. The short, Slavic-looking, fiftyish man with combed-back hair, wearing a rumpled business suit–poet. The middle-aged Latina with the severe ponytail and simple, copper-colored shift dress–poet. The young black man with the trimmed goatee and messenger bag crammed with books–poet.
I tried this again today, looking out the front window of the Starbucks in the Sherman Oaks Galleria. There, it didn’t work so well; not, I think, because everyone was so well dressed and glamorous, but because almost no one was alone. Nearly everyone was chatting and laughing with at least one other person, fully socially engaged, on the way to the movies at the Arclight or dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. It must be the slightly strained, solitary look of people filing down the aisle of a plane that makes them look like poets.