One stranger leaves another with pleasant outlook on life

Brady C. Mallory

Brady C. Mallory

After the remnants of Christmas were safely tucked away, I decided to take the dog and pony show known as my life to the West Coast.My roommate and friend throughout the duration of college, Kyle, and I figured Los Angeles held the most opportunities for New Year’s Eve. My best bud and I were ready for a different side of life before graduation increases the likelihood that we will lose touch and forget about the existence of one another. Thus, we planned a much-needed week in the sun with our friend, Cassie, who lives in West Los Angeles.

Upon locating our cozy seats in coach, I met an individual that I will certainly never forget. With fiery red hair and a matching Christmas sweater, the lady to my left sat while downing her first of many Rum and Cokes. As I looked at the five penguins in winter attire and the jubilant text of “Let it Snow!” that adorned her sweater, I made the assertion that she was probably crazy. I had to talk to her.

Hour one had nearly passed, and while finishing my new favorite book, Velvet Elvis, I noticed that this lady was fumbling with the tiny Bacardi bottle that would help create her third Rum and Coke. I made my move.

“Those are tricky, eh?” I said with the subtle cadence of a tiger trapping his prey. Unbeknownst to me, my small question would open up a floodgate of her life story that would occupy three hours.

My new friend, whom I shall refer to as Lady Bacardi, was extremely interesting. She fascinated me with the 61 years she ably molded into the words that filled my ears. She had countless degrees, and was very well-educated. Lady Bacardi works in clinical sciences and evoked a passion for her field that I hope will be ripped from my fragile body by a corporate entity willing to pay me a vast fortune.

Lady Bacardi was nearly through her fourth Rum and Coke when she barked for another one. Meanwhile, Kyle was sleeping, and this was becoming a very long flight. A part of me was hoping this boozehound would soon black out so I could go back to my book and the music of Bruce Springsteen. Lady Bacardi certainly had some curveballs hidden under the sleeve bedazzled holiday garment. Every time I thought she was a hip, well-rounded Californian, the Midwest would come barreling out of her lips and beat me with the sadistic violence that Tonya Harding inflicted upon Nancy Kerrigan.

I died a little on the inside when she declared her love for NASCAR and Wal-Mart. It was like the Midwest and West Coast were two hungry dogs fighting over the piece of meat that was her cerebral cortex. Not that loving NASCAR is bad; it is not. However, just know, if you do, I will make fun of you for it. Do not fret, for I will feign interest and nod encouragingly to your face and simply laugh at you behind your back. It is something I like to call, manners.

We began our descent into the city I had been dreaming about for my entire life. Lady Bacardi had taken a break from regaling her lost youth to me because I am guessing with her ever-increasingly slurred speech, formulating words was just not as easy as it was those fateful three hours ago.

The bright lights of LA caught my eye, and the world beneath the plane appeared with a dizzy haze of glowing dots. My time with Lady Bacardi was fading away, and I wondered what knowledge I could reap from my new friend who smelled of booze and too much perfume. We hugged goodbye, and I watched her stumble down the aisle, zigzagging every which way. I regretted not obtaining her e-mail address. She was a very lovely, very real person. In some mysterious way, she was a connection I had been waiting for in a very cosmic sense. Lady Bacardi left me with a renewed sense of faith in the endless opportunities the future can hold if one is bold enough to seek them. That hot mess also left me with a fistful of empty mini Bacardi bottles that I had to throw away for her.