The ageing comedian, known the world over for his slapstick parodies, brushed past me in the pre-dawn chill to take his place in the crowd queuing up to board the British Airways flight from Edinburgh to London. I have packing my warm jacket in my checked luggage to thank for our chance encounter. Had I not hung back to keep warm in the stairwell, I’d have totally overlooked him.
As it was, before I could react beyond the chuckle that stretched my lips straight and crinkled the corners of my eyes, the bobbing head, tucked under his signature pork pie hat, disappeared into the forward motion of the crowd.
Ignoring the ground agent’s frantic wave at me to cross over and join the line, I watched for the comic’s well-upholstered body to mount the steps. He never did, although I was certain I’d seen his squat figure entertaining the passenger standing behind him. Since I was the last to board, I also scanned each row – left, right ~ right, left – as I puttered down the narrow aisle to my seat. Nothing. Nada. He’d vanished like a soap-bubble in the bath.
Brenda and Kenny, a lovely Scottish couple that preferred not to share their last name, have been traveling with Fozzie Bear since the 1970’s. Not the same Fozzie, of course. Once the Muppet icon’s fur frays and his seams split beyond repair, he’s retired to an honoured spot on top of the living room wardrobe. To date, the star-studded line-up numbers a whopping ten.
Besides being the receptacle for practical travel items like passports, keys, and pharmaceuticals, the furry celebrity not only sparks smiles from passers-by, but prompts actual peals of laughter and initiates stimulating conversation wherever he goes. Point in case, here, with me. And should you be wondering about that number Fozzie is sporting on his t-shirt? The trio are avid bike fans on their way to Spain to watch their favourite, #46 Valentino Rossi, race in the Valencia Grand Prix.
After sharing toothy grins and a barrage of giggles punctuated by bursts of guffaws over their muppet tales the air turned somber as the couple voiced their anxiety over the next day’s presidential election in the United States. Then, like their beloved #46, we raced around the current state of affairs pondering the puddles of political nails on the global pavement until our lips went flat. The sudden silence sliced through the terminal’s buzzing swarms of conversation and myriad announcements blaring over the loud speakers. It puckered our lips and cinched our brows with unspoken thoughts of what the world might look like in twenty-four hours.
The next, “Attention Please!” snapped me from the inconceivable nightmare stabbing at my brain. Relieved by the interruption, I noticed that our cumulative gaze rested on yet another’s famous orange pate. The one sitting on Brenda’s lap. The one who is an integral part of a colorful community of diverse characters who, together and individually, inspire unity through love, laughter, and song.
My flight was called. Brenda, Kenny, Fozzie and I hugged, shared a final laugh, and wished one another safe and happy travels, which is my wish for us all on this journey we call life.
[credit for video: Tommy Roach tjrsmc ]