I managed to find a seat between two middle-aged men who either apparently had never heard of deodorant, or simply ran out a long time ago. They both glared at me as though I had just announced that I had slept with their mothers.
I took the ring case out of my pocket and examined it for the hundredth time. From the corner of my eye, I felt someone … something staring at me from across the aisle. I looked up. It was an old Ukrainian “babushka woman.” Carrying a cage. A cage containing a chicken. This image begged the requisite questions: Why a chicken? Did she come to Germany just to get this chicken? Was it for her? Was it a present? A pet? A future dinner? Both?? As I continued staring at her chicken, I realized she was staring at me. More specifically, glaring at me. Was I being cursed? But what had I done? Is staring at someone’s chicken a crime in Ukraine? Unable to come up with the answers I so desperately craved, I simply stared down at the ring. But I could feel the woman’s glare intensify. But why? Do old Ukrainian babushka women hate rings? Hate Americans? Hate Americans who carry rings? I figured that her glare would subside, that she would return to minding her own business. But each time I looked up, there she was, glaring, as if to say come on, just try it, I can take you down any day. I put the ring case back into my pocket. She continued to glare. Thankfully my imminent curse was curtailed by a loud announcement. It was time to board.