Maurice persisted in referring to them, politically incorrectly, as "hoistesses," a teasing liberty for which he took the precaution of propitiating them, just in case, with little offerings from the luxury hotels of Warsaw and Krakow—miniature shampoos or scented soaps from the bathrooms, chocolate hearts wrapped in gold foil plucked off the pillows.He squeezed and harassed their vivid blondeness and springy buxomness hello and good-bye and thank you, muttering, "Don't worry, girls, don't worry, I'm safe." "And he gets away with it, too," Norman painstakingly and unnecessarily explained to his wife, Arlene, "because he's this cute little tubby old bald Jewish guy with pudgy hands and a funny accent, and the dumb chicks from Czestochowa, they think he's harmless—big mistake, ladies!In any case, as they were categorically informed, she had taken a vow of silence.
By now, of course, father and son knew all the flight attendants on the airline.
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FOR a long time they sat side by side in silence, each with his own thoughts, perfectly at ease with the other, apart yet joined, Norman tearing open with his teeth pack after pack of the peanuts, pouring them out into the ladle of his palm, jiggling them around like dice, and then, with his head tilted slightly back, dumping them into his mouth with a smack. Dispatching the nuts this way was okay when he traveled alongside his father.
The old man didn't mind, most likely didn't even notice; like most survivor parents, he probably just registered gratefully that at least his son was eating, and for Norman, it was a stolen pleasure, because this was not a snacking style in which he could ever have indulged had he been with his wife or daughter.