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April 7, 2007

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Lisa's friend T. inhabits a sumptuous two-floor penthouse condo overlooking Lake Union here in Seattle.
To stand on the large garden terrace feels like being on the deck of a ship. Lisa was housesitting while he was away for a few days, but even in his absence he was a good host, leaving open access to his generously stocked wine cellar. It was certainly a pleasant way to while away a Saturday evening, but what stood out as usual was Lisa's storytelling ability. She's one of those people to whom unusual things are always happening, and she has a way of conveying them that's vivid and funny. Recently, having been bumped up to first class on a flight back east, she sat next to a man who claimed to be an IT professional. Something seemed fishy about his story, and it wasn't long before he confessed that he was really the air marshal on that flight and showed her his gun to prove it. She thought that was pretty sexy, but he was miserable. He'd gone from an interesting and active job as a cop and now, though being paid three times as much and looking forward to early retirement with a hefty pension in five years, he felt he was going insane. All he does all day is sit on his ass in first class getting fat, but his family has gotten used to the money and he fears he can't go back. Can the headline AIR MARSHAL FLIPS OUT AND TAKES DOWN PLANE be far away? It seems a symptom of a larger malady--the mechanics of control in a culture of fear drive people crazy.