I was glad I had a window seat as the plane glided smoothly over the prairie. I looked down on the small towns that dotted the land, surrounded by fields now dormant and covered with a light blanket of snow. As we approached Minneapolis the lakes became more numerous, frozen over, cross-crossed by whiter stripes resulting from a glacial version of plate tectonics. As we got lower I saw that the surface of the ice was scored with tire tracks from countless vehicles, and dotted with fishermen’s shacks, some in clusters, others off on their own. On islands I could see houses, isolated in the summer, in the middle of a parking lot during the months of ice.
I have three hours to kill here in the Twin Cities, and how better than to take out a loan so I can afford a single airport beer. Leinenkugel’s Red – a local better-than-awful brew. Sitting near me is a gray-haired man returning to Saudi Arabia after a cruise with his family. He is an engineer working as a contractor for Haliburton, where he specializes in drilling sideways. “Oh, like when you want to set up a well on the border and send it under your neighbor,” I said. “Exactly,” he replied.
Although he has dual Canadian-Saudi citizenship, he is not flying directly into Saudi Arabia, but into Bahrain instead. “When you fly into Saudi, they search you carefully, and confiscate all your porn and everything,” he explained. “Bahrain is just a whorehouse. Then you can drive down the causeway.” He is also planning to spend some time with the whores in bahrain, as lond as he is in the neighborhood.
His family, I take it, lives on this side of the Atlantic, as does he when he is not working. His daughter left a note in his suitcase asking him to stay home more.
He had enjoyed the cruise, but didn’t like how structured the trip was. “The boat won’t wait for you,” he said. “I wanted to golf, but there was no time.” Apparently there was also no time for prostitutes. On a cruise. With his family. We are certainly not of the same world, he and I. I made myself busy on my phone, burining off the last minutes on my account, in part so he would stop telling me things. Man, it’s going to be a long nine hours if we’re in the same row on the plane.