Posted by: cousindampier | 16 August 2013

Ella the 5th Grader, or That Time I Discussed Hitchcock Movies with a Ten-Year Old

As of yesterday, I am one of the few to be a passenger on a 787. I’d forgotten any airlines have them in service – every time I hear a 787 mentioned it is usually alongside words such as “fire” and “grounded.” Polish Air actually has the new planes, and despite the jokes my trip from Chicago to Warsaw on one of them was….well, pretty much the exact same as any other aircraft.

Boarding a long-haul flight is different than domestic flights because the plane is nine seats across instead of the usual six. This makes for two aisles running the length of the aircraft. Both Boeing and Airbus do this thing where, as you enter, you walk by the business class seats, which are beautiful and spacious. It is a giant middle finger waved to you as you prepare for the minuscule space of economy.
I hand my ticket over at the door and am immediately greeted with a wave of Polish, and a few hand gestures towards the far side of the plane. This is a bit confusing, since I am still in Chicago, But fortunately, I posses the capability to read numbers and letters and manage to find my seat.

My spot is in the middle; on the window side is a middle-aged woman, and on the aisle is a small kid. I see this and presume they are together, and offer the kid my seat so she can sit with her mom; the kid looks at me for a moment and then at the woman and then back at me and says, “oh, no, we’re not together, but I’ll still scoot over.”

“No, no,” I reply. “You have the aisle, you should keep the aisle.” And I toss my stuff on the middle seat and sit down when she gets up.

I sit there for a few minutes and put my stuff in some sort of order, which mostly consisted of jamming my bag underneath the seat in front of me. It did not fit with my legs. Which is an issue when you have to sit somewhere for the next nine hours, and as I contemplated this the kid next to me turned and said, “I’m Ella. Would you mind if I had your name?”

I blinked for a moment, because that is the politest way any person has introduced themselves to me, ever. It was so polite I worried she didn’t know English, but she speaks it perfectly. Turns out, Ella is a huge New York Giants fan. Loves math and science but hates school. She’s afraid to start fifth grade because people tell her its hard.

As we’re sitting there and I’m asking her about what her school is like in Brussels, she keeps fiddling with the small tv on the seatback in front of her, trying to get the movies to pop up.

So I ask her, “What are you excited to watch?”

“Argo,” she responds without hesitation.

Once again, I’m a bit taken aback. Fifth grade equates to ten or eleven years old, at which point in time I think the most risque movie I’d seen was probably Live and Let Die (though I saw Event Horizon around this point, which still disturbs me). But she loved Argo – as in, she’d seen Argo several times at this point. (She’d watch it twice on the flight).

This presented an immediate problem. I was already set on watching Ice Age, but now I can’t watch that while this fifth grader watches Argo. It’d be absurd. So I’m glancing through the movie selection again, and I ask Ella what her favourite movie is, and she stops looking at her tv and turns to me.

“Have you seen any Alfred Hitchcock movies,” she asks, her blue eyes bright.

“Yeah, a few of them. I’ve never seen Psycho or The Birds though, which I suppose is strange.”

“Have you seen Rear Window?”

“Yep. I think I like it the best of all of the Hitchcock movies.”

Ella smiles. “It’s my favourite ever.”

I’m blown away. This is like finding a ten year old who not only loves Steve McQueen, but thinks that Papillon is his best movie. (It’s Sand Pebbles, and I’ll argue this to the death). I’m not surprised that Rear Window is her favourite film, because it is a great film. I’m just surprised that this fifth grader has seen it.

It’s pretty absurd.

So we get into a discussion about Rear Window, and how crazy the guy is, and why she likes it. She love that its just from that one point of view – not even the guy, but the apartment and the courtyard how they are both as much of a character as James Stewart and it’s just one of the more unique moves she’s seen, and how the bit-by-bit revelation makes it a great suspensful film. The kid knows what she is talking about. She loves movies.

At some point during this the plane takes off, which gives us access to movies, and Argo comes on. Ella is nearly bouncing with excitement to watch it, but the stewardesses won’t come by with headphones yet. I’ve got two on me, and dig into my bag and give her a big neon green set which goes over the ear and she thinks they are about the coolest thing she’s ever seen. And as she settles into watch hostages being taken, I put on Sherlock Holmes instead of Ice Age and eventually fall asleep, doing my best to stretch out in the small middle seat, still smiling that I got taken to school by a ten year old.

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