What a fool I was to assume my 10:26 P.M. United Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport to La Guardia would be an ordinary, uneventful journey. I spied his shtreimel from the back of the TSA line and felt a sinking feeling in my gut – somehow I just knew that this Haredi man would be on my flight, but I never could have guessed what that Lenovo laptop under his arm contained.
He sat across the aisle and two rows ahead of me. I initially respected him as a fellow leg-room-prioritizing aisle seat man, but as soon as we hit our cruising altitude, he slammed his rickety tray table down, popped in a pair of tangled El Al-brand earbuds, and booted up his laptop; my jaw hit the floor as I watched him navigate to a desktop folder, open a file labeled GOTSe04Ep07.BITTORRENT_05.18.2014, and began watching an episode of the award-winning HBO fantasy series, Game of Thrones.
I found myself wondering if I was dreaming. Maybe I had died, or slid into a parallel universe where this was acceptable. But I pinched myself, took a sip of my ginger ale to steel myself, and faced the cold hard truth of reality: there he was, sitting in seat 5C, watching Daenerys Targaryen take Daario Naharis for her lover as casually as if it were an episode of the Aish Podcast.
When Ser Gregor Clegane crushed Oberyn Martel’s skull with his bare hands, I thought it had to be over. Surely, this devout man of the Lord couldn’t watch three back-to-back episodes of the most explicit sex and visceral violence known to cable TV, just to then fly home to study with his Chevruta. This man belongs in a Kollel, not King’s Landing. For Hashem’s sake, his wife is sitting just a few rows down, taking care of their nine children! How could this be? I had honestly believed until that moment a Haredi man watching Game Of Thrones would simply catch fire on the spot. Alas, there he sat, unscathed.
In any case, my flight was grounded in Asheville, North Carolina after I flew into a blind rage and flipped the drink cart when I saw him start season eight. I don’t care how sheltered a life you lead, no one should be subjected to that shit.