Boarded. Tiny plane, drop-down movies in the aisle. I'm sitting next to the nun. She knows my grandmother's cousin. They're in the same order in Texas.
'Sure isn't it a small world, sister. A small world.' We shake our heads, marvelling at the smallness of the world. 'Oh, 'tis. Isn't it just. A small world.'
She's brusque. An Irish accent just about discernible under the acquired twang. Sentences are delivered in rapid fire. She'd have done well on Blackboard Jungle.
She realises she's in the wrong seat. 'I should be in in 16A.' And she's gone, like a smell of gas, bolting down the aisle without a backward glance. No, she doesn't need my help with her bags.
'Bye now, sister.' No response.
I acquaint myself with the location of my flotation device.
On the in-flight movie, American characters are saying American things, like 'bottom of the fourth', 'with all doo respect' and 'so help me God'. A baseball player gesticulates at his codpiece. Jackie hits a home run. A string orchestra erupts in soaring jubilation. Jackie nods at his coach, once, in close-up. His coach, on the distant sidelines, nods minimally in response. But really, I don't think they can actually see each other's faces. Jackie is very far away from the coach. I suppose it must have been coincidence that they both nodded at the same time, or something.
The occasional expletive is ridden over roughshod by a voiceover bleating a more acceptable alternative.
'You miserable son of a BIGOT.'
'I kicked that sucker right in the GRASS.'
My companion on the left, a businessman from Limerick who lives in Dublin (I'm still from Limerick though, I won't be supporting Dublin in the hurling or anything, Jesus no, not a chance), is pale under his tan. He was at his brother's wedding at the weekend. He spent last night in the pub, having a barbecue and a sing-song. Not feeling the best now, getting on the plane, he says, throwing his eyes up to heaven. Sure it has to be done, I say. Yerra yeah.
Was it a good sing-song? Ah it was, yeah. All my sisters play. Sure they're fierce talented altogether. Used to play myself, he says, piano and button-accordion. The cornet for a while, as well. That's a yoke a bit like a trumpet.
I say I play a bit too, bit of piano. Doing a PhD in music now. Is that so, he says. Fair play. I did music for the Leaving Cert myself. Is that right, I say. Fair play.