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James hated standing in lines – hated it with a passion.
Especially airport lines, and this line was a dilly. He’d blown his timing totally, which was most unusual for him. He sighed, shrugged, quit being mad at himself, and queued up. Fifty ahead of him? Brando’s famous line from ‘Apocalypse Now’ ran through his head: “The horror. The horror.”
He settled down to his favorite airport pastime, watching women go by, trying to be discreet and not embarrass anyone.
He appreciated the female of the species both in the abstract-generic and especially in the concrete-specific. Big, small, old, young. For instance, the little knot of people just entering, looking about. From the puzzlement on the face of the man leading the troop, James knew they were not frequent travelers. Not to mention the big “Aha!” when the guy found the right sign.
They moved vaguely in his direction. A small, definitely quite old lady and her daughter (even at fifty feet his taxonomist’s eye could see the similarity in phenotypic expressions of the underlying genetics). Grandmom, daughter w/husband, two grandkids. G’ma was obviously the traveler today, since she was the only one carrying a decent-sized purse or other hand baggage. The kids were bored, the parents were busily solicitous of Grandma, son-in-law pulling her single large roller suitcase.
“Grandma” was not the least bit intimidated by the crowd or by the prospect of her long journey. After all, for most of her professional life, she’d traveled a lot, and she enjoyed the hustle/bustle of a big airport the way she might take in a crowded county fair. Lots of total strangers, busy, intent – blooming buzzing confusion with some profound underlying order to it. Nearly chaotic, yet strongly patterned.
Besides, she liked to watch people: during travel, it kept her sane. She was a diplomat, however, and let her relatives “take care” of her enough to satisfy their own needs. She spotted the proper line immediately, but let “THE MAN of the FAMILY” (they always seemed to want their manhood acknowledged in all caps, she thought) figure it out on his own so he could lead and feel like he had done his male-duty thing.
While “The Man” pondered, she grazed visually, concentrating on the long line they would wind up in, when finally The Man figured things out. There at the line’s end stood a young man, apparently a solo traveler like herself. Her entourage, if The Man ever DID figure things out, would be right behind him.
She studied him briefly. About fifty years younger than herself, but still no child. Good looking in a low-key way. Mustachioed. Apparently ready for a long trip, tee shirt, loose khaki shorts, comfortable shoes. Good legs showing, generally trim and in shape. He was studying the crowd casually, occasionally eyeing the big flight-data board hanging from the ceiling. His eyes flicked across her own group, then scanned the room again.
“The Man” finally figured things out (sheesh!) and they meandered towards the proper line.
To James, “Grandma” was definitely the more interesting of the two approaching women. She was quite small, about five feet zero, probably ninety-five pounds wet, and ramrod erect… strong, and moving gracefully, with total body-control. The remnants of old dance or sport training, probably, James thought: whatever, it had certainly stood by her very well.
The presumptive daughter wasn’t a physical success, having already gone to fat. He returned his attention to Grandma: now they were definitely aimed at his own line. Grandma going to Amsterdam tonight, and on her own? Interesting! Something to contemplate instead of repeating “The Horror” ad nauseam.
Discreetly now. Study without alarming, without letting them take notice. Grandma. Age? Hard to tell, she was very well preserved indeed. That plus her grace of movement confounded his effort to gauge. No trace of hitches or age-slowdown irregularities. Sixty-late, perhaps… more likely early seventies, though, very hard to tell. Could even be a wonderfully-preserved mid seventies?
Now they were in line next behind him. That made it easier to get details, but much harder to avoid being caught studying. He scanned her in the interstices of looking elsewhere. G’ma had clear, pretty skin whose soft, numerous lines and near-transparency said “aged.” Facial structure under the wrinkles shone through, made the details of the covering more interesting than distracting. Nice white teeth, whiter than James’s as a matter of fact, and obviously her own. Short, carefully coifed hair, solid silver-gray, no streaking, not particularly old-lady-thin either.
No hairspray, and no old-lady perfumes, thank god for that favor! Nice clothing, also a bit out of age-character by James’s estimation: all-black flowing materials, slightly clingy. A single strand of gray pearls was her only jewelry. Nice. The outfit was good traveling stuff, comfortable, loose. A just-below-knee skirt, boat-necked blouse.
He got illegal bahis a glance at her neck and collarbones as the family talked: she must have decided early on not to do the suntan thing, because the many years she carried above and beyond his own 27 hadn’t made that expanse any worse than the backs of his own hands.
Small but solidly muscled calves (more evidence of dancing?), no ankle-bagginess, and no hose! More and more interesting, wasn’t she, the more details he collected? Tiny traces of nipples on small, soft breasts beneath the clingy, flowing material, likewise a tiny hint of callipygian cleft showing through the skirt. That most likely meant no slip, as well. No doubt at all that she was still quite aware of her femaleness, and willing to show a touch of it. Classy attitude.
Then he gulped mentally and recomputed as “daughter” said “Grandma, I hope you have a good time, but Johannesburg is an awfully long way for a seventy-nine year old woman to travel alone!”
“Grandma” was in fact a great-grandma, which made her all that much more interesting. Shortish generation times in this family, real contributors to the human population problem. Oh well. James reappraised her and, based on the new data, ratcheted his opinion upwards a long way. He hoped he would look that good, male-wise, at her age. The kids’ father referred to her as “Jane”. Okay, too bad it wasn’t something more interesting. The kids called the lady “GG”, presumably for “GreatGrandmom”. Cuter than “Jane”.
She could be GG for him, it was always nice to have a name to go with the view.
Suddenly, GG nearly blew him away: she stretched her arms up above her head, and lo and behold, boobs appeared against the blouse fabric, traces of nipples went from barely discernable to quite obvious. If she had on a bra at all, it had to be one of those “Little Nothings”. She folded forward from the waist, stiff-legged, until she was totally jack-knifed, with her forehead against her ankles. Simply amazing, her flexibility!
Unfortunately for James, she knew what she was doing, and held her blouse in place with her hands. Too bad, he thought, then wondered why he wanted a glimpse of seventy-nine year old breasts anyway, decided it was the overall mystery. She held the pose, with her back to him: below her obviously-taut bottom, the hem of her skirt did what physics and fit demanded, and rose far up above her knees: the backs of her lower thighs showed, smooth-skinned, tendons pulling the skin taut: it was smoother than anyone her age had a right to. The calf-preview had been right, GG had very pretty legs, from ankle to several inches above her knees! And a nice, neat, narrow butt, too. He was astounded at the tiny prickle in his crotch, then grinned privately to himself. Why shouldn’t his body respond to a pretty woman, regardless of her age?
Daughter protested with a hissed “Grandma! Do you HAVE to do that in public!?”
Face nearly at the floor, GG said “Yes, dear, I do. We’ve been sitting in your car so long that I got totally stiff, and god only knows how long we’ll be in this line! So, yes, I do.” She straightened up, and caught James’s eye for the first time, smiled at him and said “These days, I teach yoga.”
She scanned him up and down, disarmingly direct, studied his legs where they underpinned his traveling-shorts, and then offered her analysis: “You look, from your legs, like you must be a runner. Which means you’ll be stiff as a board, unless you are about ten standard deviations from the mean.”
He was intrigued even more: science-speak, used correctly, and in ordinary conversation with a perfect stranger. Brains in there, and education.
Before he could answer, she folded herself down again: from the floor she looked up at him and said, “This is something you should learn!”
From her inverted position, GG was certain that James couldn’t tell where her eyes were focused, and gave herself permission to check out his legs for a few tenths of a second. Nice thigh-muscles, skin tanned and taut, a goodly dusting of golden blond hairs. He shifted slightly as her eyes moved, and for a tiny moment she was certain she saw something in the shadows of the leg-hole of his shorts, but it was gone almost instantly.
Her belly twanged: that had to have been the tip of his cock. That meant no underwear! Which, she supposed, could possibly make good sense for a man who was going to be traveling for many hours. At any rate, the idea certainly could fire a woman’s imagination. She took a half-second to study her own reactions. Why, after all these years, had her belly done that flop?
Daughter looked at James and said “Sorry! Really, she doesn’t do this sort of thing all the time, and she actually does NOT flirt with every man she stands in line with. Really!”
James grinned at her discomfort, and said “Doesn’t bother me at all. She’s right on both counts: I’m both a runner and seriously stiff, just as she guessed, and at least illegal bahis siteleri five s.d. from the mean. And I certainly SHOULD learn some yoga.”
GG eyed him from her ankle level, her expression changing slightly as he returned her scientific terminology: contact established, we share something the rest of the world knows little about, we are kin. That was nice!
She straightened up finally, gave a little upper-body shake to get everything back into place (James felt he knew what it was that needed settling-back, too!) and then asked “Are you going to Amsterdam?”
James nodded: “Actually, I’m headed on from there to Johannesburg as well. Couldn’t help overhearing you folks.”
Her eyes brightened, she stuck out her hand and said “Allow me: I’m Jane, or GG if you prefer, as do the kids. I’m going to JB, where I was born, to visit my older sister. And you are…”
James replied, shaking her hand, “James. Enroute to a research vessel at Cape Town. I’m an oceanographer. We sail in about a week.”
GG stepped up to him and linked her arm in his, startling both James and her relatives. To them, she said “There now! I’m not traveling alone any more, so quit worrying. Here’s my companion. We must be soul mates because he knows what a standard deviation is! He’ll take care of me if I need it.” She looked up at James, grinning impishly: “You will take care of this little old lady if she needs any help, won’t you, Kind Sir? You know, Knight in Shining Armor and all that medieval balderdash?”
She batted her eyelashes at him outrageously, scandalizing her family.
Half a second’s pause went by before James responded: “Of course, Madame! You’ll be safe with me. I could use a companion myself for this trip.”
Son-in-law rolled his eyes as if he’d heard this sort of nonsense too often. Daughter just shook her head. The two kids looked startled, then the girl sang out “GG’s got a DATE!”
“Indeed I do!” said GG, not loosening her grip on James’ arm in the least.
They talked as the line inched forward, mostly about the trip, airplanes, airfares. Travel-trivia. Possible delays, tales of missed connections. James and GG wound up dominating the conversation, which was to be expected since it was now -miraculously! – perfectly settled that they would be companions for nearly 14,000 air miles.
After about twenty minutes, during which they advanced far less than a tenth of the length of the line, an airline representative come out and told the entire group the bad news: their aircraft was suffering an “equipment delay” of unknown length, certainly more than minutes, probably hours, but “Probably not lots of hours.” Very helpful.
GG’s group waited as GG and James conferred over their tickets: they had nearly a ten-hour layover in Amsterdam before the flight to JoBurg, so they decided not to be worried. They’d make their connections. The two parents fumed slightly… their own plans had clearly NOT involved spending hours in the airport.
GG quickly suggested the obvious: the family should leave, having done their duty by getting her to the plane on time. Then she, with her new companion, could handle things from here. There was no reason at all for the rest of the family either to be upset or to stay and waste more time.
The Man of the Family accepted the idea thankfully, shook James’ hand, and suddenly James and GG were alone in the huge crowd.
GG looked at James and sighed deeply: “Thank God they’re gone! They are nice enough, but they can really be a collective pain in the tush sometimes. You, Sir, look to be a much better companion than they ever could be. Shall we go over to the customer service desk and see what’s really happening? Besides…” GG looked at James appraisingly. “… maybe we could change our seats and sit together. If you wouldn’t mind? I’d like that. It’s so much nicer to have a simpatico companion!”
James agreed on both ideas.
They walked over, immediately found out the flight was solidly full, likely to be delayed two or more hours, and there was zero likelihood of seat assignment changes, unless they could persuade another passenger after they were airborne. But at least they got boarding passes and their luggage checked. James suggested they head to the frequent-fliers’ lounge, for which he was qualified. It was quieter and cooler, comfortably furnished, and only moderately busy. GG pointed out a new sign, whispered “Hallelujah!” It read, “Cell phones to be used only in the soundproof room.” James nodded agreement. They had a bit of luck, and found a tiny table with two comfortable chairs over in a windowed corner, and settled in. James played waiter, fetched two glasses of the house freebie chilled white wine.
Finding themselves now with plenty of time, they did professional introductions and histories. He was a newly-minted professor with a two-year-old PhD. James explained that he was a pelagic ecosystems oceanographer: canlı bahis siteleri that lit up GG’s face. She had been a terrestrial ecologist, retired as a full professor quite some years ago, then fallen more or less by accident into teaching the yoga she had been taking for forty or fifty years.
She told him “I was part of the first generation that got hooked on numerical modeling, We were going to invent a calculus of ecology and use it to understand and predict ecosystem behavior. After about fifteen years of hard work, we finally discovered that we couldn’t initialize any of our models, because the data we needed were all species-specific, and the taxonomy was so damned poor that nobody even knew what a species was!”
James nodded, and replied “Maybe species is the wrong taxonomy? In the ocean, we tried that too, and today we talk about “functional groupings”, but I’m not sure we’re going to make any more headway than with species… after all, as a first step to any analysis we still have to be able to consistently identify critters!”
They used up the napkins diagramming curves of species growth and resource utilization, getting several strange looks from nearby fellow-passengers. GG noticed the looks, and commented “I guess we’re an odd couple, aren’t we?”
James shook his head “no”, patted her on the shoulder, let his fingers linger until it was just short of being too much contact, and said “I think we’re a fine couple! It’s pretty rare to just randomly encounter some stranger and be able to talk eco-theory with her!”
GG sipped her wine, looked about, then said “We have things other than eco-theory in common, you know. I was watching you earlier, out in the main lobby. You like to look at women. But you’re quite discreet, which is polite. It’s also RARE!” James reddened slightly, and she grinned at him. “Myself… Well, for some odd reason, I prefer to study the men.”
James swirled his wine, looked about: the room held a lot of attractive people of both genders, ample grazing materials for them both. Finally, he said “Yes, frankly, I like to look. I like women. Actually, GG, I greatly prefer the company of women to that of men… I do get tired of football, carburetors, and out-lying one another. Women are a different species altogether, and much more interesting. I like them any size, color, age. Who knows, maybe it’s the taxonomist in me?”
GG smiled and replied, “Or maybe it’s your testosterone level? That’s more likely, I think.” There was a long pause. Then she asked quietly, “I saw you studying my legs. So, even an old prune like me can rate an occasional glance?”
GG waited, surprised at herself, and flushed red from her blatant and unexpected fishing for compliments.
James took time to think: he liked this lady, and wanted to let her know that he found her attractive both mentally and physically. Finally he leaned towards her and laid his hand atop hers: she studied the contact, warm, strong, gentle and bogglingly sensual. “Let’s look at it this way, GG. It’s mostly a matter of perception and stages, since nothing except perhaps a rock stays the same for very long in this world. A prune was once a plum, and before that a blossom. All the same object in one very real sense, but each stage quite distinct, like egg-larva-pupa-adult. Each has its own beauty, and its own appeal. The blossom doesn’t last very long, but pleases the eye and the nose. The plum lasts longer, and appeals to touch and smell. The prune lasts nearly forever. Over its life, those are all the same object in a way, yet each is completely different, and each is totally beautiful and unique.”
GG listened, sipped at her wine, and nodded: “That’s very Zen, isn’t it? Especially from one so young. But, James, I noticed you didn’t list a sensory appeal for the prune? Does it have one?”
James grinned broadly at her and said “It does, indeed. I wondered if you’d ask about that. It’s taste – the prune is deeply, hugely sweet and strong. And it’s far and away the most intense and longest-lasting of them all. I enjoy flowers, and plums too. But I happen to love prunes.”
He looked steadily at her, eyes wide, pupils dilated.
She flushed brilliant red from hairline to below the neckline of her blouse. Even her forearms shared in the event, changing color and raising huge crops of goose-bumps. She was so surprised that she hung her head, avoiding his gaze. James reached out, after a moment, held her chin in his hand, raised it up so they were looking at one another. “Sorry! I did NOT mean to embarrass you, and I’m not trying to count verbal coup. I meant it, every word. I meant it in the abstract, and I especially meant it about present company. Okay?”
GG swallowed, and finally giggled and nodded, cupped his hand in hers. While she looked right into him, almost into his very soul it seemed, she slowly slid her fingertips down the back of his hand, over the tendons and veins, through the forest of hairs on his forearm, ever so slowly along the solid muscles. Had there ever been such eroticism just to touching an arm? Her belly writhed silently. She didn’t know that James had matched her own full crop of goosebumps, over his chest and shoulders.
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