“You have to be a Skinny Minnie to fit in these seats,” the giant man by the window said as I unfolded the seat belt and wrapped it around my hips. It didn’t fit. I lifted the metal flap and pulled the nylon web looser and buckled it. I’m no Skinny Minnie, that’s for sure.
For the next fifty minutes me and the giant man, whose knees butted against the seat in front of him, and whose right hip spilled over the crack dividing our seats and made contact with my left hip, barely contained our bodies in the 18-seater Dash-8 airplane. As I read “Outside of Ordinary-Women’s Travel Stories” and he read “Talk Like a CEO”, we sat shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, me refusing to budge an inch, owning every scrap of fabric on my seat. In the past, I would have done my utmost to give the man more space – crossed my left leg over my right, rounded my left arm and shoulder inward, put my feet together under the seat in front of me, made myself small, small, small.
How many times have I sat next to a man on a plane or a bus or in a waiting room who took up space by spreading his knees wide in a huge V, like an invading Viking, marauding and menacing my space? How many times have I shifted my body away so I don’t have to touch him, so I don’t have to feel him, so I don’t have to be aware of him, so I can simply be in my seat and fly/bus/wait?
Never have I been in this situation where a man crosses his legs, or shifts away, giving me my allotted spot. Never have I seen a man squeeze his knees close and tight or plant his feet together like he was bound by invisible rope about to be bagged and tossed into an umarked grave. Never have I seen a man relinquish the middle armrest.
Maybe it was the news of the past few weeks that made me refuse to budge and reduce myself to accommodate the giant. My fatigue with forgiving someone else their size while trying to make myself disappear for their comfort has been transformed into determination to use the space I need and am equally entitled to.
No, I’m no Skinny Minnie. Give me my space.