Meet Cute: Strangers in a Strange Land

by Nikki Deterding

Meet Cute: Strangers in a Strange Land

You never know who you’ll meet on your travels, but in my own experience, I have had the pleasure of sitting next to the chronic crabber, the personal-space invader, and the “Don’t you think my baby is the cutest when she drools like that? Oh, did she get some on you? Would you mind holding her while I run to the lavatory?”–er. So my travel mantra is usually something along the lines of “sit down, shut up, and look very occupied.”


After my innumerable run-ins with infant fluid and body odor, my hope for a cinematic meet cute was literally obliterated by the time I arrived at LaGuardia Airport that bright, sunny morning two years ago.


That’s when I found myself sitting in the terminal with an hour to kill. Scratch that. Two hours … my flight was delayed after I arrived.


This guy sat down next to me, decked out in California volleyball gear. I was planning to stick to my guns and not give in when he asked how I was doing. A grunt and shoulder shrug, or a conversation? Decisions, decisions. I couldn’t sense any overwhelming lack of personal hygiene on his part—in fact, he seemed to be perfectly normal. So I thought, “What the heck—why not?”


We started chatting—about nothing, really—and then I realized that two hours had gone by and my flight was boarding. We kept talking as we wandered toward the gate and realized we were on the same flight. He sat down next to me on the plane, and we continued our conversation for the duration of the three-hour flight to Denver.


We parted ways, after spending about seven hours together, to catch our respective flights. Zack was going back to school at UC Berkeley, and I was headed back to Norman, Oklahoma.


Six months later, I flew out to California and spent a week of my Christmas vacation with him. A year after that, I moved to California. It’s funny what can happen when you experience things with an open mind. You never know when a real-life meet cute might be just around the corner.


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