laplumeDear L. A. Plume,

I’m sitting next to you on an airplane and the two older gentlemen behind us are chatting away – they are discussing, endlessly, life at the College of Charleston, the farms on which they grew up, animals they had as children, a friend who died of prostate cancer after three years, a first visit to Wal-Mart, and the TV series The Gilmore Girls. Now I happen to be a big fan of The Gilmore Girls myself, but shouldn’t these old geezers be talking about hunting or fishing or maybe, maybe even be quiet for a few minutes so the rest of us nearby can hear ourselves think? They aren’t even availing themselves of the free cocktails; can I offer to buy them a drink in the hope that it will put them to sleep?

Going Deaf


Dear Going Deaf,

Bless their hearts – two gents who have made friends on an airplane! Buy yourself, and me, a free drink and let them enjoy themselves.


Dear Ms. Plume,

I’m on a bus tour for a few days. The “girl” sitting next to me is twirling her hair frantically, taking up more than her fair share of the seat space, and picking at her face. If that isn’t enough, she turns to me when she sees I’m was trying to nap a bit and speaks to me in a high pitched baby voice. Bless her heart, but her arms are bigger than my hips, she is well into her half-century mark and hasn’t brushed her teeth for maybe a decade. How can I politely disengage?

Grossed Out


Dear GO,

This reminds me of the time I was in a train station in Paris and the popular version of a Parisian homeless man approached me asking for money. I vehemently told him I couldn’t understand him, that I didn’t speak his language and to go away. After a few minutes of looking at me strangely, he left; I couldn’t understand why he looked at me that way until I realized that I had actually been speaking to him in French.  Try to confuse your seat mate; if it seems she knows that you speak a common language, then try a variation, such as Pig-Latin, and see if that quiets her. Just remember there’s a 50/50 chance that Pig-Latin may be her first language.



Dear Ms.Plume,

I am frosted by backpack carriers on public transportation! If they want to impersonate the Hunchback of Notre Dame then let them do so in other venues. Today a hippie backpacker twirled around in line and his backpack sent my coffee into a trajectory. People should be aware of the space they invade! What can be done?



Dear Frosted,

I SO agree!  Backpacks should be worn in the front and those unaware people should be made to impersonate pregnant women or kangaroos. The only recourse I can think of at the moment is to take stickers with you when you travel. If they have Obama written on their pack, then plaster it with Romney stickers while they’re being blissfully unaware of what goes on behind their back. If they seem to be vegetarians (backpackers like their veggies) then quietly employ that packet of your children’s barnyard stickers, or if you have access to a big decal of a shrimp – stick that baby on the pack and leave the interpretation to everyone’s imagination.



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