Your Secret’s Safe With Us

Tomorrow we embark on a much-anticipated trip to Hawaii, where we will meet up with my cousins who live on O’ahu, stalk sea turtles across the North Shore, ogle beer-bellied honeymooners in Waikiki and ransack the souvenir stands and the lunch wagons at Honolulu’s International Marketplace.

Setting sail (albeit on an airplane) for the Sandwich Islands puts me in mind of a story.  I fly for a large, international airline with flight attendant bases in five countries, but at heart, our work group is more like a small town, and anybody who cares to can know your business.  Stories abound of the two girls together on the jumpseat rhapsodizing about their wonderful new boyfriends, everything sunshine and lollipops until the identical photos are busted out and yet another pilot is found out for the dog he is.  On a Maui trip many years ago, I worked in First Class with the captain’s ex-wife while his new wife slung trays in Coach, and I don’t mind saying, a more uncomfortable hotel van ride I have yet to endure.

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Cry, Baby

With the possible exception of the Free First Class Upgrade who doesn’t get his meal choice, nothing sends airplane passengers flinging themselves over the edge faster than a crying baby.  People are reasonably understanding on take-off and landing, when the changes in cabin pressure can easily and accurately be blamed, but let a baby make a peep in flight or on taxi, and eyes set to rolling almost immediately.  Ducking dirty looks like dodgeballs, the parents of course try to soothe the baby with bouncing, bottles, toys, or threats, but they are cut only the stingiest amount of slack by their fellow passengers before it becomes An Outrage!  And now yesterday, the Huffington Post reports, a man on an airplane on the ground in Hanoi popped open an over-wing exit, apparently to “help” a mother with a screaming baby to make good her quick escape from the cabin.  Apparently the escape slide — which inflated automatically, as the safety video warns you it will, and probably with a bang, at that, which every crying baby loves — wasn’t used, but the guy’s gonna get fined, and the airplane will have been pulled out of service until the slide can be repacked.

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Things’ll Be Great

As we all know, that Petula Clark was no dummy.  Easy and unfettered access to hot guys roaming the streets at lunch hour is not necessarily a requirement for an enjoyable layover, but it never hurts, and is definitely one of the major benefits of staying downtown vs. at some airport Hilton. Fine guys in the street are the only reason that anybody goes to Sydney (deny it, flight attendants, if you dare), but domestically, where the flight time (if not always the duty day) is much shorter, a Downtown Layover is a rare and coveted thing and one of the few things for which every flight attendant is willing to fight.

See, when our airline was in bankruptcy, they slashed and burned many of our favorite sections of our contract in the name of Cost Savings (figuring that calling it Executive Bonus Enhancement would be harder for the court to publicly endorse, although that is precisely where the “savings” went).  Before that, we went downtown on any layover over 13 hours, where shops, restaurants, museums, and yeah, even the hot locals were just steps from the hotel lobby.  Now we have to be in town at least 20 hours before the company is required to put us downtown (or in a “downtown-like location”).  For a layover shorter than 20 hours (up to, and often exasperatingly including, those of 19 hours and 59 minutes), the company can put us up in an airport hotel, where nothing is steps from the hotel lobby and you usually have a direct view from your room of the terminal, including a very literal view of The Horse You Rode In On, lest the company’s Screw You inherent in a long airport layover be lost.

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A Short Excerpt from a Short Love Story

It’s official: Congratulations are in order for the great state of Washington, its fair-minded and non-pea-brained legislators, and for those among its gay residents who went ahead and registered at Target and drew up seating charts with an optimistic eye on just such an occasion.  I am nothing like a gay marriage activist, you understand, but it is always exciting and life-affirming to see a gang of people take a stand against discrimination in any of its perfidious forms.  Happy Valentine’s Day, Gay Washingtonians!

I celebrate the marriages of my queer friends and family, and my boyfriend and I have been planning our wedding almost since our first date, coming up on eight years ago, and if either one of us ever gets his hands on any money, such a happy occasion may actually occur.  But I don’t, as a rule, get worked up over the politics of gay marriage.  It should absolutely be legal, the arguments against it are flimsy, off-topic, and homophobic, and frankly I don’t care who “approves” of my relationship and who doesn’t.  Still, sometimes a fella wants an honest declaration of amour from another fella, state-sanctioned or not, and it is this kind of spiritual marriage that inspired my first-ever short story, “The Wedding Night.”  I was ever-so-proud to have it published, especially among the Best Gay Love Stories of 2009, and a brief excerpt follows:

It’s not like I was the only gay guy in the Greek system at our state university in rural Colorado.  But in a school where most closet doors were six inches thick and made of lead, I was the closest thing to an openly gay guy.  I played baseball and drained my share of kegs and more or less “passed” as hetero, but I never had a girlfriend and it was well known on Frat Row that if your girlfriend was away for the weekend, I was generally available for a beer, a bong, or a burger, and anything else that might help make a solo guy’s Saturday night a little less lonely.  Since my taste in those days ran decidedly towards the type of thick-waisted mouth breather with which Frat Row was crawling (it wasn’t known as Fat Row for nothing), I did little to discourage this reputation, and with my flat belly, round butt, and airtight mouth (I kept plenty of secrets a lot more shocking than “I’m gay.”), I was soon popular.  

And if ever there was a thick-waisted mouth breather, it was Jasper.  We pledged different houses, but during the same semester, and the first night he flew across my radar at a Chi Sig party will forever be remembered as the night I turned gay for good.  I had been having sex with guys since high school, sure, but I was still partly convinced it was a phase, that the right girl might still come along and make straight sex seem fun.  But the first time I ever saw Jasper squat in those hard-working Wrangler jeans and take a 40 through a beer bong, I knew I would never love another.  He was thick in all the right places (and even thicker in the others), with reddish blonde hair, skin, and boots, and walking behind him, as quickly became my favorite pastime, was like watching two bowling balls in a tight denim rock tumbler.  He laughed loud and easily, drank much and lustily, and had a quicker wit than a Simpsons writer.  And, I couldn’t help but notice, he kept one eye on me for the whole party.  I had many propositions that night – I had many propositions most nights in those days – and I did blow Trig Christiansen on the fire escape because he asked so nicely, but there was something about the gleam in Jasper’s eye that told me if I bided my time and hung around, he’d invite me back to his room and it would be worth waiting for.  So I did.  And he did.  And boy, was it.

Hooked?  The book’s available on Amazon (for like $3) and maybe, if the one in your town hasn’t closed yet, at your fave gay bookstore!