Posted on: January 29, 2015
Stale air and the painted face of a weathered stewardess greeted us as we entered the cabin. The inquisitive glares of the first-class passengers came next. One first-class debutant scoffed at my travel pants. My stained, hole-ridden travel sweats are essential for any long flight. Those of you who haven’t flown and those without man tackle may not understand, but there is nothing more frustratingly awkward than being stuck on a five-hour flight, in the middle seat, while wearing jeans and suffering from an inescapable case of scrotum stick. Travel pants make for discreet adjustments – enough said.
Coach. Stale air quickly turned to stale farts as we passed through the aristocratic curtain. The other passengers briefly glanced, as if every tile on a “Guess Who?” board was suddenly flipped up for just a moment. Like the board game characters, most of the passengers were old white folks with strange facial hair, but there was no Maria with a green beret. I’m glad we’re done with berets. I found my way to my seat, 26 B, and I forcefully wedged myself between a Bill and a Claire. The Bill was taking a nap, and the Claire was reading something that old spinsters might read. All signs indicated another lackluster flight, but at least I…
“This is bullshit! I used to blow three, even four guys a flight in my day, and now I can’t even have a god damned cigarette…” the Claire angrily muttered, completely shattering my travel-jaded train of thought. “I’ll tell you, flying used to be magical…”
“Seems like four blowjobs makes most things magical,” I interrupted. And suddenly, flying was exciting again.
“Ha. All things if I’m involved sweety. Joan,” she introduced while extending a trembling grandma paw.
“Hunter,” I replied while shaking said paw. The wrinkled shaker was clammy, and I immediately wanted a napkin or some kind of disinfectant wipe, but I knew she was probably the only one passenger that would have one. “So you used to fly a lot?”
“I was a stewardess,” she began to explain. “I was a stewardess when the title ‘stewardess’ meant something – none of that PC crap back then. Things were different. A man would slap you on the ass after you served him a drink and somehow it was charming. And we could smoke. In my time, this cabin would have been coated with the sweet fragrance of tobacco and scotch before the captain even hit the intercom.”
“God, that sounds perfect. I mean, I get it, not allowing the smoking, but…”
“You get it? Don’t be such a sally. Your generation, always all up in arms. ‘What about the little guy?’ you cry. Well I’ll tell you, he was run down by the real men that were smoking cigarettes and drinking bourbon on their way to the restaurant for a steak that was still kickin’. That’s how it used to be, and now I have to sit here and coddle this pussy generation until I kick it. Oh great, and there’s a black…”
“And I’m gonna stop you on that note,” I quickly interjected while noticing a young Hispanic man looking for his seat. “Anyway Joan, I thought your generation frowned on promiscuity?”
“What? Ha. Oh yes, peaked your interest there…” she began while reaching over to give me one of those comforting grandma knee grabs, “…didn’t I. Well, like I said, flying used to be magical.”
“Please, go on.”
“Ha! No, no. Those days are kind of like Vegas, but let’s just say there were plenty of boys that wanted to stay in Vegas, got me?”
Wait, my grandma was a stewardess. “Well Joan, it sounds like you were a pioneer in your field.”
“Heavens no! We were all doing it, but it was a better time. We had a lot of fun. Fun you couldn’t get away with now”
No, not Grammy. “Yeah, you can’t get away with much up here now.”
Silence. The Bill was snoring up a storm as I sat there, half enjoying the awkward silence and half suffering from thoughts of Grammy in her stewardess days. Awkward silence is only slightly more comfortable than coping with casual racism, but far more comfortable than coping with thoughts of your grandmother turning tricks on a commercial airliner. After a bit, I pushed the attendant button for some snack assistance.
“I’m sorry sir, but no snacks are provided on this flight. I can get you a bag of pretzels, but they’re running $4.50 a bag.”
“$4.50 for fucking pretzels?” Joan belted. “What the hell happened to flying? This used to be a privilege, a luxury, and now you have to fight some ugly-frigid-cunt-bitch ‘flight attendant’ for a bag of pretzels? I swear…”
“Please just go,” I instructed the stewardess. She glared at Joan as she continued to rant, and looked to the front of the cabin. I thought Joan was going to get arrested, and if the stewardess didn’t mistake me for some family relation, she probably would have been. But fortunately, she trotted off as if it never happened. Joan paid no attention – she was knees deep in profane, contemporary-flight-etiquette criticism. “This really pisses you off, huh? I mean, where’s my old-timey lap dance?” She paused mid-rant and smiled.
“You know, it does. When I did this job, I made it my duty to make sure that the flight was a special experience for everyone involved. And that had nothing to do with the sex stuff. Being up here used to be something special. Now it’s routine and tedious. It’s a shame. The things you have to watch society ruin as you age. You’ll know soon enough.”
“I hate smart phones. No one talks anymore.”
“Oh no, you’re in trouble if you’re already noticing it.”
I glanced out the window as we glided over a serene mountainscape. “Well, at least the view is still amazing.”
“Meh, the green used to be greener,” Joan remarked with a smile.
And suddenly, the flight was over.
Written by: Hunter Hirsch
Photograph by: Daniel Vidal
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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