Our flight the next day wasn’t that early, but it felt early since we had to be at the airport by nine to return the rental car and whatnot. I hadn’t slept much but I figured I could sleep on the plane.
At the newsstand near the gate, I bought the issue of Musician one of the writers I’d met had mentioned, and then I followed Carynne around in search of breakfast. We ended up with something like an Egg McMuffin which my stomach wasn’t ready to eat yet, so I just picked at the muffiny part and threw the rest away when they called first class to board.
We were seated in the first row of first class in a plane where the entrance was at the beginning of coach, so we went to the left and the hoi polloi went to the right.
Our flight attendant was a winsome blond guy who cheerfully took the Ovation’s case from me to store it in the coat compartment and as I handed it over to him in the aisle we locked eyes with one of those “do I know you?” looks. Something about the way he took hold of the case gave me deja vu.
Neither of us said anything, though, and he stored the guitar while I settled into my seat.
“Are you all right?” Carynne asked when I guess I was staring off into space, racking my brain trying to figure out if I actually recognized the guy or if he just reminded me really strongly of that flight attendant I’d met on the way to Los Angeles a million years ago.
Well, 1986 to be exact. About a quarter of my life ago. “Huh?”
“It’s okay to be a space case around me, Daron, but I’m just checking.”
“I’m fine. Just…” Might as well tell her. “Trying to figure out if this flight attendant is a guy I slept with in 1986 or if he just reminds me a lot of him.”
She tried to get a look at him but he was in the little galley just then. It wasn’t long before he popped out, though, asking the people in the seats across from ours if they wanted anything to drink. “I see what you mean,” she said. “He is kind of a cookie cutter guy. Straight from central casting.”
“So it’s probably not the guy I met…” I trailed off, suddenly amused by the thought. “About one day before I met you for the first time.”
“You’re kidding, right? You slept with a flight attendant on your way to meet up with Nomad that time?”
“I know. I was so shocked that it happened I didn’t even know what to think of it at the time.”
“In the plane?” she whispered.
“Hi, what can I get you folks?” His teeth were perfectly white and straight and he leaned over us slightly.
“Oh, um, good question,” Carynne said, her face suddenly red, making her freckles stand out.
“I’ve got fresh squeezed O.J. if you’re in the mood for something morning-ish,” he said. “Or I can put some vodka in there if you’re not.”
“That sounds kinds of good.” I stared at his face and really could not tell if he was the same guy or if I was now trying to rewrite his face to match in my memories.
“Okay, and for the missus?”
Carynne snorted. “Oh, we’re not together. I mean, we are together, we’re just not. Oh for crying out loud.” She put her hand over her eyes. “Just give me a cup of coffee, please?”
The flight attendant then gave me a wink like he knew all along we weren’t a couple and went to make our drinks, and I decided it was was too early in the morning for that level of mental exertion.
“By the way, no, not in the plane,” I said, when Carynne kept her hand where it was. “He gave me a ride from the airport to his swingin’ gay bachelor pad. And then I called a taxi.”
She looked at me. “Was it your first time?”
“Almost.” Now my face was getting red and I really wondered if the people sitting behind us were getting an earful. “Not exactly.” I wasn’t going to get into my weird non-relationship with Roger or the very, very small number of times I’d managed to hook up with someone at the No Name, on nights when they hadn’t bothered to card at the door. “It kind of went by in a blur.”
I had the sudden, chilling thought: was that guy even still alive now?
The vodka and O.J. was a welcome hammer to the spike of anxiety. Yes, the closet had been damaging to my psyche in ways I was still not fully recovered from but maybe in some divine providence sort of way it had helped me to dodge a bullet.
I wasn’t the only one having anxiety then, it turned out. When we took off, Carynne grabbed my arm so suddenly I thought maybe she was about to be nauseous. But no, it was a sudden attack of fear of flying.
“Since when do you have fear of flying?” I asked.
“Ugh. I don’t know. Recently.” She was starting to hyperventilate.
“Um, breathe more slowly,” I suggested.
She shut her eyes. “Distract me or something.”
“Uh, okay, let’s talk about something else. I know, are you in the mile high club?”
She snorted and laughed. “No. I probably missed my best chance for that years ago, when I was hanging on with various touring bands, well, basically just for the sex.”
“I’ve always wondered about that.” I put my other hand over hers to try to get her hand to relax and maybe not leave permanent nail marks in my arm. “I mean, your uncle was right there and he didn’t have a problem with you sleeping with the guys in the bands?”
“He had a huge problem with it but at the same time he knew it was going on and really did nothing to stop it other than to occasionally complain loudly and threaten to send me home. I told him flat out once if he did, I’d just go on the road with some band where he wasn’t around to keep an eye on me, and that shut him up for a whole month.”
“Is it? It’s all about appearances, D. You know that. He didn’t actually care as long as I was 18 and they weren’t, in his words, ‘taking advantage of me.’ But he had to act like he was against it or he’d be a bad uncle or whatever.” Her grip loosened slightly more. “And you remember what I was like. At 18, I was a total nymphomaniac, and I’d discovered that guys my own age were terrible in bed. Whereas guys who have slept with hundreds of women actually get pretty fucking good at it. Plus the whole rock and roll as aphrodisiac thing.”
“Yeah.” I breathed a sigh of relief as she let go, but refrained from looking at how deep the nail gouges in my skin were. “Speaking of which, are you single again now?”
“Yep.” She sighed and opened her eyes. “Hm, maybe that’s what I need. Somebody like a flight attendant or a pilot who is gone half the time anyway.”
Then we hit a few air pockets and she latched on again.
When that smoothed out we were at cruising altitude and the flight attendant came around again to see what we wanted to drink now that we were in the air. I wasn’t used to First Class treatment so it was a shock.
“Maybe you should have a drink to calm down,” I suggested to Carynne.
“It’s too early in the morning for that,” she said with a frown.
“Oh honey, how about I make you an Irish coffee, then?” the flight attendant suggested.
“Besides,” I pointed out, “it’s past noon where we’re going. Get adjusted back to East Coast time.”
“Oh, I guess so.” She sighed and looked defeated, like maybe this wasn’t on her diet, but she decided fuck it, why the hell not. “With extra cream.”
“Coming right up. One for you, too?” he said, giving me a once over with his eyes.
I adjusted my jeans. “Sure. Wouldn’t want to make the lady drink alone.”
The coffee did nothing to keep me awake, though, and a short while later I fell asleep with my head against the wall. And had dreams about joining the mile high club.
Reminder: one week from tonight! Chat with Daron and me from 8-9pm in the chat room here on the site, and then from 9pm to 10pm eastern USA time I will be livestreaming video on my YouTube channel. Last chance to suggest a scene for me to read or to post questions for me to answer will be Thursday!
Direct Youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0vzienFR-g
Facebook event RVSP: https://www.facebook.com/events/1507687612887454/
Pre-order Volume Eight at: Amazon • Smashwords • Barnes & Noble • Kobo • iTunes/iBooks
(I can barely stand to watch these late-era big hair bands now. It’s not their fault the industry tamed them like a giant bottle of creme rinse. -d)