An excerpt of my essay, An Ode to B-cups, featured in the anthology Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010: True stories from around the world….
Life is about the choices we make. It’s also about taking responsibility for those choices. Even the bad ones. Like working for a low-cost airline called Sun Jet International that’s based in Dallas and never flies overseas. But that’s another story. This one is about ramifications.
Enter Passenger 22B. I’m working a morning flight from Los Angeles to New York, but somehow I missed him during the boarding process. That’s insane, considering that he’s the kind of guy who makes heads spin like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. Tall. Tan. Decked out in a dark pressed suit with black wing-tip shoes. It’s not until my coworker and I push our 150-pound cart six rows back and I place a napkin on his tray table that I finally see him. “Would you care for something to –”
As soon as we lock eyes, I can no longer speak. I forget where I am. Who I am. Why I am. I can only swallow and, after the shock wears off, blink.
“Hello,” he says. The Dutch accent just about kills me.
“I’m sorry. Let me try that again,” I say with a nervous laugh. “Would you care for something to drink?”
He flashes a movie star smile. “Please, Coke Light,” he says, only it sounds more like Co-kah Light. Adorable!
That’s when I do what any straight single girl in her mid-twenties would do: freeze. I stand there in the aisle wearing navy blue polyester, staring him down like an idiot. Then I do what my mother would: check for a ring. Nope: no wedding band, not even a tan line. Yet he’s so far out of my league, it’s not even funny. Trust me, I know my man equivalent, and he’s not it.
I shake myself out of it and smile my first-and business-class smile. I try to think of something to say, something witty but with an edge, something that could lead to an interesting conversation, like one about dating.
He nods, which is my cue to shove the plastic scoop into the drawer of ice. I glance across the cart at my overly Botoxed coworker. His dropped jaw and wide eyes scream “Gurrrrl! Oh…My…God.”
Oh my God is right: my gay competition is now drooling all over his pin-striped apron. I shoot him the evil eye. He’s mine, I mouth.
Whatever, he mouths back, pursing his lips and striking a pose. Even though I have no shot –zero, zilch—I’m feeling defensive. What is Botox doing, standing there licking his lips? He’s practically humping the cart. “Do you have any Diet Coke on your side?” I ask.
“Of course, doll, anything for him,” he purrs, handing me a silver can. Then he leans over the Styrofoam cups and whispers: “Make sure to give him extra pretzels.”
Which is exactly what I do. I place a can of soda and four bags of pretzels on his tray table without saying a word. Then I do what any straight single girl who is also a flight attendant would do: move on to the next passenger.
I’ve seen enough TV to know that doctors date nurses, lawyers date court reporters, and the one in the corner office with the amazing view dates the one pouring the coffee. So what’s the big deal if I date passengers? Where else am I going to meet men—lots and lots of men—who don’t ask me to smile when I don’t feel like smiling because I’d rather slap them across the face for feeding me the same line they gave the girl at the bar?
Here at 30,000 feet, that doesn’t happen. I get the chance to know men, really know men, and they are completely unaware of it. Because I am in control of their comfort and safety, I see them at their most vulnerable, and some men can’t do vulnerable without being a jerk. I wouldn’t date a jerk on land, so I don’t extend any more than professional courtesy when a jerk is in my airspace…..
Want more? Go buy the book! Please.
Yeah, that's me, the one standing in the aisle wearing flammable polyester...