The Aisle Seat
The most vulnerable seat in the room
This is an essay about the aisle seat and all the joy and dismay it can bring. Forgive me for it all ended up coming out as though all aisle seats equal ‘THE aisle seat.’ Just one; the big one; the chosen one; the ultimate one. So it goes. But before we begin, happy new year! Thank you all for sticking with me in 2021, making my first 10 months on Substack a better-than-anticipated and grand experience. Now, let’s all enjoy season three of covid together!
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The aisle seat, AKA the most vulnerable seat in the room. If you choose to sit here, it’s probably not your first rodeo. You’re already aware that sitting here means you’ve foreseen the possible outcomes, the hazards, the joys, and have made an unspoken agreement with yourself that any scenario that may come during this event you’re attending is worth the risk of sitting here.
I witnessed a stranger who had taken this noble risk sustain food spillage at a local theatre (one that offers real food brought to you in your seat by real waiters — sublime dining). The poor waiter tripped going down the stairs and, well, you can imagine the rest. But the risk-taker remembered the agreement he had made with himself not long ago and remained calm and did not place any blame on the waiter, for this incident is always one of the possible hazards of sitting in the aisle seat.
And with great hazards comes great responsibility.
You need to be patient, for there will undoubtedly be people that will want to slide by you for a seat further down the row. This means you need to secure anything that was nicely situated on your lap, stand up, and exit your bubble in order for them to pass. If you’re lucky, this situation will only occur once, but prepare for a minimum of three times during the duration of your event. Be courteous, for the person who slid by may never be the risk-taker in their world and not know nor understand the woes of re-situating.
Sitting in the aisle seat feels like endless arm space and leg space and at some point, during the show or movie or flight or game, you will succumb to an overwhelming want to stretch a great stretch because you’ve been sitting far longer than the body should sit in one sitting. But you need to remember to be respectful of the space you’re occupying. You must remain aware at all times of your surroundings and of any person passing down the aisle and any person seated nearby that may, unfortunately, keep you from this prosperous and robust stretch.
But the greatest joy and advantage to sitting in the aisle seat is the freeing feeling that nobody can sit next to you, with the exception of the person who may have accompanied you of course. Okay, I lied. They can sit next to you, but the odds are slim, notably during these days. People like to retain a personal bubble and this means somebody meandering around the room, looking for their desired location, will wander away from you and your empty seat and find a different area with the hopes that they too won’t be bothered.
The day after Christmas, Jennie and I went to see a live performance of the classic novella A Christmas Carol. It was the last day of its performance and we figured this probably meant it would be the least crowded day of its showings and Jennie always takes my discomfort for crowds into consideration. As we walked in, I noticed all of the aisle seats were available. No risk-takers here. She asked me if I had a preference of where to sit, so, as the risk-taker that I am, the choice simply came down to viewing angle questions. Where in the audience is the best view of the stage? Where in the audience can we sit where if the scenario should arise that somebody decides to sit in front of us and obstruct our view of the performance even though half of the theatre is empty and they choose the very seats in front of us, our view won’t actually be too terribly hindered?
Evaluating the simple questions and weighing the pros and cons are all included within the unwritten and unspoken agreement you make with yourself before choosing to sit in the aisle seat. I regard it as the most vulnerable seat in the room, but it’s also the best seat in the room.
The building blocks ⤵