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.
Stories have a way of getting around. When I was still based in San Francisco, I flew a month of Chicago all-nighters with a fun, junior crew. Mostly we stood around the back galley of a 767 playing cards, and one night the Purser busts out with one of her favorite stories. Seems her friend, whom we’ll call Edgar, worked a trip to Kauai a while back with these two knucklehead guys. After buying huge beers at the ABC Store, the trio ends up late that night in one of the hotel’s myriad hot tubs, where Edgar’s flying partners soon decide they would be more comfortable without their trunks on. So comfortable are they naked in the water, it turns out, that they soon decide that the Pacific Ocean, only steps away, presents a much better skinny-dipping opportunity. In no time they put their trunks back on, scoot down to the beach, ditch their trunks again and run headlong into the Ocean and begin at once to cavort. Rascally Edgar stays on the beach, and once the goobers are frolicking sufficiently far from shore, he scoops up their trunks and makes off with them. The boys espy him and — several beers into the proceedings, remember — they give pursuit. Naked as jaybirds, they dash across the sand after their shorts, eventually tackling Edgar near a tree under which, needless to say, two more flight attendants are spectating. Our flying partners were rolling as the Purser drew her retelling to a close, but I merely smirked. “Has Edgar told you that story before?” she asked me.
“No,” I told her, truthfully. “I’m hearing the story for the first time. But I was one of those guys.”
I am a well-behaved and faithful partner, and have no reason to be ashamed of an innocent bit of Hawaiian streaking. Jared has heard this story more than once. But it’s made the rounds — I’ve heard it from other flight attendants since, and it has evolved over the years, even briefly calling into question the commitment of my straight cohort to his sexuality, even though he behaved like a perfect (if naked) gentleman. I have nothing in particular to hide from my co-workers, and certainly nothing to keep from my husband, but I have nevertheless learned to play my cards close to my vest on the airplane and be stingy with the personal details that I hand out. About myself, anyway — I have hilarious stories to tell about my friends!