I'm thinking about the Madeline cookie I ate on a flight from Paris to JFK. It was the best tasting, most perfectly baked Madeline I've ever eaten, and they just gave it to me on an airplane. It would have been pretty nice to see more of Paris than just the airport.
I was trying as hard as I could to escape in that moment. I was sitting next to the most annoying person I've ever met in my life. We were halfway through an 8 hour flight.
Abraham, 23 years old, born in Israel. He split his time between living in Tel Aviv and New Jersey. He looked so much like my friend David that I wanted to like him and give him the benefit of the doubt. What's the harm in some small talk? I was feeling lonely. I should be sitting next to my wife. This was still our honeymoon, technically. But we had different flights home. So here I am with Abraham as he awkwardly, abruptly starts his story about the old man he upset while standing in line.
Before I knew it, we were talking politics. He loved Trump and Netanyahu, hated Palestine and believed every Clinton conspiracy possible. The flight hadn't even taken off yet and we are receiving indignant glances from all angles as he's throwing boilerplate FOX News whataboutisms before I can complete a sentence. I straight up told him he has fallen for the most ignorant, hateful propaganda the world has to offer and we left it pretty much at that. He held out his hand for a shake, thanking me for a sensible debate. What the fuck.
Eight hours of this guy. He never got the hint that I did not want to speak for eight hours straight. Every movie he watched, for every superhero punch or corny quip, he would turn to see if I was just as dazzled as he was by what was happening on his screen. I was stewing in my chair, doing all that I could to contort my body away from him. There was no escape.
Even with my earbuds in, my eyes closed, and as much of my back twisted towards him as as possible, Abraham would repeatedly tap me on the shoulder to fill me in about what Shazam was up to. After accepting that he would never take a hint, I finally told him to please leave me alone.
Mealtime. I barely remember the food. It must have been a croque monsieur with a side salad. But dessert, I remember that. It was the most beautiful Madeline. I had seen the classic buttery yellow cookie and the chocolate dipped variety many times before. I had never seen one like this. The same elegant shape, but delicately tinted pale green.
It was perfect. Every bite surprised me with its texture and flavor. A cookie they give out on flights. That's the only window of experience I have into France.
My aching back contorted to avoid Abraham mere inches away, exaggerating every laugh in my direction as he watched movie after movie. The song playing on the radio while I ate was The Reason by Hoobastank. I was miserably eating the best tasting cookie I've ever had in my life. It was perfect.