Travels with an Old Man

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mary-annef
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Travels with an Old Man

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“And Mrs. Golding?” the steward queries. He is poised over us with a tray of drinks, but everyone in hearing range has picked up the emphasis on “Mrs”. We know what the real question is, as his eyes flick from me to the man sitting next to me. My travelling companion is twice my age and shares my surname. Dad has stumped up for premium economy. I travel steerage on my own buck and am not used to this kind of attention. “Miss”, I correct miserably, opting for spinsterhood over “gold-digging hussy” as the lesser of two evils. And, just to make sure he and everyone are clear, “I’ll take the same as my father please”. The old man perks up at getting a mention. Until now he’s been distracted trying to plug his earphones into his seatbelt clip. Surprisingly, given how he’s been occupying himself, he grasps the situation immediately. He gives a series of ribald chuckles, visibly preening under the misunderstanding. It may be a daughter’s point of view, but lechery does not sit well on my father.

We are on route to visit my brother. Our journey did not get off to an auspicious start. I went through security first, at my father’s insistence. I was replacing my laptop, only to glance behind me and see him surrounded by security personnel. Their scanner picked up something and they need to open his luggage. Now I know for a fact, that my sister went to great lengths to ensure Dad knew about the 100ml liquids rule. And Dad knows I know. “Dad have you got something in your bag you shouldn’t have?” “No, no, no,” he replies with wide-eyed innocence but breaks eye contact with me at the last minute. It’s good to know he has some measure of conscience. We remove the one-litre bottle of sunscreen from his hand luggage. He can’t resist belligerently pointing out that it cost less than my 100ml tube. I decide to let it go in the interests of a smooth passage. But it is not to be. “Your daddy has a knife” whispers the nice security lady to me confidentially, smiling sweetly at Crazy Sunscreen Guy. “Dad they’re saying you have a knife in your bag?” Again, the wide-eyed innocent act. Truly my mother was a saint. The outline of my parents’ favorite kitchen utility knife is there on the screen in black and white for us all to see.

Australia seems like a very long way away.

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