"I'll have a tomato juice with ice and two vodkas, please" he uttered when I asked him what he'd like to drink. Fine. One drink down, another ordered in a fairly short amount of time. Somehow, we got on the subject of where we were from and where we were going -- typical conversation in my business. I reach my slender hairy forearm across and rest his second drink on the stand next to him. He catches my attention and dives into an animated, theatrical version of "Perhaps you've heard of "Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.....'." Why yes. Yes, I have heard it. He goes on to tell me that he grew up west of Boston in some proximity to where Longfellow lived and wrote. He is dramatic and looks me squarely in the eyes with his wrist held limp and his arms up in the air a bit -- much like he's performing on a stage.
We get to the uncomfortable time where's he's ordering his third double drink within an hour of starting. Now, that's six drinks at a cabin altitude of around 8,000 feet above sea level. That's like going from zero to sixty in a short amount of time and drinking while you're doing it. And we have, like, four hours to go in the flight ahead of us. He tell me that "I'm planning on being well oiled by the time I reach Boston so just keep the drinks coming." Oh boy. So, I take his third double drink to him and tell him that the airplane probably isn't the best place to become well oiled.....that we are not permitted to let anyone get to that point on a flight. He's very kind about it, thankfully. Many times, people aren't nice to me at this point. He nods to me and sort of waves me off -- not in a bad way but, rather, in a "I know" sort of way. A bit later, he's headed to the restroom and says to me, "If you had a son like I do picking you up in Boston, you'd want to be well oiled too." I tell him that I totally understand -- and that family members can many times be the ones that drive one to drink. He laughs. I laugh. It's all good.
He hands me a section of a magazine that he's torn out and written down some information on: Longfellow's Wayside Inn in South Sudbury, Massachusetts. There's a phone number there too. And it also says to ask for him, by name. A very nice gesture, don't you think? I appreciated the interaction by a stranger. He tells me that I need to stop in sometime.
At that point, he sort of fades out into la-la land for a little nap. Six drinks in an hour will do that to you. I notice that he's sort of almost to the end of his third drink and that it's almost to fall out of his hand while he rests with his head back and mouth open. Next thing I know, his linen napkin is covered in tomato juice. He's obviously spilled the last remaining bit of his drink on himself and had to wipe it up in a napkin that now looks like a murder took place. I remove his glass and napkin from his lap while he's resting peacefully.
He wakes a bit later and orders a brandy. I space it out as long as I can before delivering it to him. And, finally, nearing Boston, I hear him say to me "I'd like another brandy," while I've got my back to him and speaking to the folks across the aisle. That's his last drink. Eight in one flight. Clearly in need of drinking his relationship with his son into annihilation. Believe me, my heart went out to the dude. I'm sure he was gay. And clearly enamoured with me. I was flattered, believe me. But I honestly felt sorry for him. Because I'm sure that his son has given him hell in his life. And that his son has probably struggled as well with this man that I've just spent the last five hours with.
I've still got the phone number and address of the place he said to drop his name at. Maybe I will sometime. Maybe he will buy me a drink this time around.