As a rather large traveler, I always went first class because it is only in first class that I can find a seat that is large enough to be comfortable. If I flew to Europe in economy, I would likely get gangrene of the behind before I arrived, certain to take some of he pleasure out of the experience. Today however, even many of the first class seats are being made smaller much to the chagrin of the people who pay the big bucks for them.
We had boarded the aircraft and were well settled in before other passengers began to come on board. As passengers passed through on their way to economy they cast casual glances at us as we were in much larger and more comfortable seats. They could not know that I was not rich enough to travel like this but was on assignment for the airline and the deal was that I travel first class as part of my arrangement.
Following the ladies, two even better dressed and very distinguished looking Arab gentlemen boarded the aircraft and took their seats in the first class cabin. The door was closed and the plane pushed away from the ramp in preperation for take off.
We had been in the air for about an hour, had a number of liquid refreshments and were just finishing the traditional filet mignon. One of the interesting Arab gentlemen tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could speak to me, privately.
I moved over to sit beside him and we both lit a cigarette, it was allowed in those days and we began to chat. I asked if any of the ladies who had passed through to economy earlier were related to him. He replied that indeed, they all were his wives. They had just been to London on a shopping trip and were now headed home through Cairo. We talked about the cultural differences, a subject of great interest to me then he turned to me with a very serious look on his face and asked me a question that really took me by surprise.
" I wanted to ask you sir" he said " if you would consider selling your wife." Now, I had been around the world several times but never before had anyone laid that one on me. Of course, I thought he was just making a joke but something in the look in his eye suggested that indeed he was serious.
I explained that in our culture, such an action would be considered impossible because unlike the rules in his country, when we married, it did not give us ownership of our spouse. He did not seem to be ready to take no for an answer having taken such a great shine to my wife who by now was becoming more than just a little irritated at the whole comedy taking place. For her, it had ceased to be funny although I must admit I was getting a great chuckle out of the whole thing.
Some years later when I found myself sitting in a lawyer's office working out the details of a divorce, I thought of that Arab gentleman and found myself wishing that I had taken his phone number. At this point in my life with divorce facing me I might have been prepared not only to accept his offer but even to give him a good discount that may just have sealed her fate. Then again hindsight is an opportunity lost. Every once in awhile I find myself wondering how much I might have gotten for her.
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