She had been helping a family of Russian immigrants of all things. A mother, father and their 8 children and none of them spoke English. She was a foreigner as well. Possibly Albanian or maybe a Croat. Whatever it was, she knew enough to be able to help them on the plane when the stewardess was at a loss for words. In the right place at the right time, I'd helped her help them with their luggage before take off when we left Italy. When we arrived late in Atlanta I offered to help again. At any rate, I had a face she was able to identify with. So maybe this encounter wasn't mere coincidence.
I smiled as she walked in and asked how she was holding up. In case she hadn't heard, I mentioned that the airline would probably provide us with room and board for the night due to flight cancellations. I also offered her a drink. I wondered to myself how many other casual encounters were taking place in the same air terminal, as stranded passengers reached out to for support from the nearest person available.
We sipped our drinks and made mall talk. She was from Slovenia. Traveling to the United States for the first time to visit her brother who had come to the US a year earlier. She had a certain beauty to her and as I looked into her tired eyes I imagined what type of intimate encounters might play itself out later if the opportunity presented itself. Sometimes - I thought - I could be a real son of a bitch.
Three more drinks and we'd both loosened up considerably. The laughter was coming more easily. She'd broken the inner circle first: touching my arm and then my hand while we talked. Casual encounters like this don't happen I thought to myself. An encounter with a beautiful woman in an airport. Like something out of a novel.
The word came down about 2 hours later: all passengers on the Rome flight would be given vouchers for a room. I broached the subject first: why not get out of here and eat at the hotel. I offered to help her gather up the family of Russians. And off we went. I'd had casual encounters before, but nothing like this. I'd casually forgotten the wedding band on my finger. And if she had noticed it, she certainly had mentioned anything. What would I tell my wife? Wasn't expecting a casual encounters like this. Never imagined a few drinks would lead to intimate encounters later.
More drinks at the hotel and all the signs were there. Casual encounters tend to occur when you least expect them. Now she was reciprocating with all the right signals. Never would never have got this far, she said, if it wasn't for me. No one else was willing to lend a hand, she purred. How could she ever repay me, she asked, as she gently squeezed my hand.
Groping in the elevator. A long meandering kiss at her door. What is it about natural disasters, emergencies and bad weather that turn total strangers into intimate encounters? This is tempting I told her. And we have to be at the airport early in the morning. Another kiss. I impressed myself with my resolve. I smiled. One more kiss for the road. Get some sleep, sister. You're going to need it.