If you want my body and you think I'm sexy come on honey let me know.....la la la....1978, Rod Stewart. I thought I saw Rod walking along Congress Street in Austin just last night....but then I realized it was some guy(?) on his way to the club on a Saturday night. We departed Austin early this morning for our 3 1/2 hour flight to San Jose. A few seats open but nearly full. It will come as no surprise to you that I've run into all kinds of characters in my life as a stewardess. But today gets a whole chapter all to itself in my book of life.
The guy was big. Maybe 275 pounds or so. And tall with a couple, or three, jiggly chins. Sneakers untied, no socks. And a yellow shirt that smacked of the south, a conservative well-worn one. With little funny golfers on it. Maybe from some southern department store back about 1987 or so. He was probably in his early to mid 40s. He never told me...despite the fact that he asked my age and refused, refused I say!, to believe me at 49 years old. "Nuh uh," he kept saying. He hung around the galley. For a really, super long time. Now, we flight attendants are not known for enjoying people in our galleys. Its our space, lots going on there, and we like to chill and enjoy a coffee after the service is complete. But today was not going to play out that way. He blathered on about life in Austin, how he'd moved there to go to school after playing in the NFL for six years with the Green Bay Packers. He had a wife with no further information beyond that. He wanted a vodka and cranberry but his credit card had been declined earlier this morning when he'd tried to use it to upgrade to First Class -- "I was supposed to be in First Class," he tells us. So, we scanned his card anyway and gave him his cocktail. Instead of returning to his seat, he kept on chipping away at the intimacies of life.....all 275 pounds of him smack dab in the middle of our galley. Me on one side, my friend Cathy on the other. I kept on trying to sneak glances at her around his expansive mid section. But it was hurting to bend my neck that far around him. He brought out his iPhone and showed us his music selection -- U2, Eric Clapton, Rush.....others. "I used to smoke pot and listen to Rush." He was from "Pennsyltucky," as he put it. The back hills of Pennsylvania. But with Cathy being from North Dakota and me from Idaho, neither of us had any compelling reason to think we were any better. I made up the state "PennsyltuckyIdakota" and we all had a giggle. Another cocktail for him, please....now we're up to four vodkas. I tell him that there is an open seat in the exit row and maybe he'd be more comfortable there. But, I ask him, do you think you'll need a seatbelt extension? Because they are not allowed in the exit row. "So, are you calling me fat?" he asks, laughing. Nope, I'm not...I'm simply asking about seatbelt extensions before you try to sit in the exit row. So, and I swear to god it happened just this way, he grabbed a handful of that belly in both hands, jiggled that bad boy belly like Santa Claus, looked straight at me, and asked "So, do you think this is sexy?" Oy vey. I gotta get outta here. Another cocktail for him.
And he continued on about salaries and jobs and such -- wondering who was the bread winner in each of our families. Cathy said she flies minimums and that her husband brings in more than she does. (Seriously, are we really having this conversation with a perfect stranger ?) I sort of skirt the issue and try to change the subject. "I think I'll go and pick up trash," I say as I slither past his sturdy frame into the aisle. I stand in First Class for a bit, waiting, waiting, waiting for him to clear out of the back galley. I finally end up there again. I sit down on my jumpseat and gather the Sunday morning paper with a cup of coffee. He begins to sit down next to me....but I diverted that by telling him that nobody is allowed to sit on the flight attendant jumpseat. "Oh, well maybe I can buy you a drink then....." as he turns to my coworker Cathy, pulls out that (previously declined) credit card and says to her, "Can I have a drink for myself and one for Arnie too?" Oh lord god jesus and mary, I about evaporated. She explained that we are not allowed to drink on the job. And then he heads back into uncharted conversation territory with the questioning again about who is in my family and who the bread winner is. I say that we both make about the same amount. "We, who?" he wants to know....."Are you married?" So, if you're willing to encourage that conversation with me, I'm more than willing to have it. "Nope, I'm not married....they don't let the gays marry in this country," I tell him. "I have a partner," I tell him. "Oh, a dude partner?" he asks. Yes siree, a genuine honest-to-goodness dude partner! "Oh, I'm all cool with that," he continues. Once again, I'm looking for a way out so I grab the aforementioned trash bag and head out leaving Cathy in the back galley (again) with him.
I stood in First Class for the longest time. Waiting, watching, watching, waiting. He returned to his seat and waved at me. I waved back. I finally ventured to the back galley and Cathy turned to me and said, "You'll never believe what he said about you....he said he thinks you are sexy."