On the plane back from San Diego, the boyfriend (who shortly before had become, technically speaking, an ex-boyfriend — that sweater curse has a hell of a kick to it, if it can break you up before you’ve even cast on for the damn thing) and I had to sit two rows apart. We’d stayed late enough in the airport bar that we missed the first cattle call for our Southwest flight and couldn’t get two seats together. He found a spot and I wobbled two rows down, a little too cross-eyed from pre-flight rum & Cokes and half a Vicodin left over from our day trip to Mexico to carry on conversation. I saw a woman knitting something craptastic in red and some awful multicolored yarn, studiously looping each stitch like she was committing it to memory, and I smiled condescendingly. Awww, look at the knitter, I thought. So cute. God, I wouldn’t wear that thing on a dare, whatever it is.
I stashed my little vintage carry-on case in an overhead bin, plopped myself into a seat, and broke out my own knitting. I was working at a pretty serious clip on my Stitch Diva bodice — bless stockinette in the round; even the drunkest knitter has a hard time screwing that one up — when one of the flight attendants leaned over the business-suit-clad guy in the aisle seat to smile and make some incomprehensible noise at me.
I looked up from my lapful of stockinette and bleated, “Whaaaa?”
“What are you working on there?” she said.
“It’s a sweater,” I said, concentrating on saying my words without slurring and making sure both eyelids blinked at the same time.
“Oh, wow!” she said, and tugged on another flight attendant’s sleeve. “Look at that! She’s making a sweater!” They craned over the guy in the aisle seat, who looked pleased enough to have his field of vision filled with smiling, tanned stewardess.
I smiled modestly, trying not to look too addled, and held up the knitting so it looked at least marginally like a real garment instead of a blob of fabric. “Yup. You can see the armholes here,” I said, poking and stretching the sweater so the lace band in the middle would show to good advantage, “and the neckline here.”
“Hey, it really looks like a sweater,” they cooed. “Wow!”
The first flight attendant leaned forward again. “Y’know,” she said in a conspiratorially low voice, “I saw a couple other women on the plane knitting stuff too, but nothing that difficult. You definitely win for the most complicated project.”
I think I actually said “Aww, shucks.” I know for a fact that I tried to look pleased and modest. But all I could think was Damn right, it’s a competition. Bitch in row 12 never even had a chance.