23 May 2005

The French are cold

The French are cold. The temperature inside the 767 we travelled on was cooler than usual. T reminded me of something I had heard before - that French fear a draft. Sure, French women wear scarves because they are fashionable, but more important is the protection scarves provide their French necks. Drafts allegedly bring on illness.

After T mentioned this, I couldn't help but noticing that nearly all of the French people on the flight were wearing sweaters and jackets. It was extremely warm when we left Dallas and few of us Americans had bothered to prepare for the possibility of coming in contact with cool air, and potential illness because of it. Being overweight and often flushed, I was quite pleased that cool air had replaced the usual stuffiness of an airplane's cabin.

When we boarded, a sealed plastic bag rested on every seat. It contained a headset for the movie, a pillow and a small, burgundy colored blanket. Once the flight was underway and people had settled into their seats, it became apparent to the French that the temperature inside the plane was not going to stabilize. Quite possibly, it could hover perilously around 67-degrees for the entire nine hour flight.

One by one, the burgundy colored blankets started appearing. Each person had their own ideas about how the blankets could protect them. A man at the front of the cabin stood near the bulkhead gazing back at the rest of us, with his burgandy colored blanket draped over one shoulder and across his midsection, looking much like Caesar. An olive wreath atop his balding head would have been fitting. One man in his 20s, not afraid to look uncool, had his burgandy colored blanket tied around his neck like a poncho with bow-tie aspirations. Most of the chilly French simply wore their burgundy colored blankets over their shoulders like a cape. Because of the blanket's color, they alllooked to me like a group of Harry Potter's classmates from Hogwarts. Unfortunately the modest blankets had neither impressive crests sewed onto them or magical powers with which to elude danger.

Well into the flight - when the first movie was over and the cabin lights were dimmed, in the row next to ours, a mother tucked the burgandy colored blankets under the chins of her three children, who were asleep in their seats. She seemed pleased with herself. I was still enjoying the cool air that was wafting out of the directional nozzle above my head.

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