New Release: First Flight Out

Egad, another story about flight attendants?

Write what you know, right? Well, what I knew. When my airline offered its flight attendants a buyout at the end of last year, I took it, so I’m actually more like Mister Ex-Stewardess at this point, I just don’t think that’s as catchy of a blog name.

unnamed (2)I suppose I was never going to fly forever, but now that my flying career in its entirety is behind me, I got to thinking: should I write a memoir? I mean, it was a funny job, and I do have some stories. I just kind of think the passengers-are-crazy flight attendant tell-all has been done. But it occurred to me, while I have written two books about flight attendants, almost nothing in either one of them actually happens on an airplane, and yet it’s pretty much the whole flying sardine can thing that makes the gig what it is. The interesting, the irritating, the unique, and the unbelievable aspects of flying mostly stem from — get this — the flying part. And while a strictly factual read-through of the day-to-day of my career might be a tad dry in spots (even if it did span two centuries! How’s that for a hook?), I figured funnier, fictionalized versions of some of my stories might have a certain appeal — especially if they happened to sexier people than me who were running around falling in love with each other while they told them. Thus was the idea for the Mile High Club series born, and today marks the release of Book One, courtesy of our friends at JMS Books.

Jesse Cisneros and his best buddy Tanner fly for Mile High Airlines, which is every bit as classy as it sounds. When Dr. Virgil Willis rings his call light on a flight from New York to Denver, Jesse is so taken with his looks and charm he forgets all about the inflight medical crisis that prompted him to call for a doctor in the first place. Willis is handsome. Willis is helpful. And wouldn’t you know it? Willis is someone else’s husband.

Jesse can hardly believe his luck when their paths cross again on the patio of a popular gay bar. It’s been nine months, and Willis has been busy: now he’s single, he’s out, and he’s very interested in getting to know Jesse better. It all seems too good to be true! And you know what they say about that…

It’s even 20% off here in week one, only $3.19, only at JMS Books!

Thanks, JMS Books!

Thanks, JMS Books!

If you love it, and I hope you will, watch for Book Two, all about Tanner, later this year!

Advertisements

Tattooed with a Nude

OnlyJudyCanJudgeMeSo I’m on the airplane yesterday, the last leg of one of the more irritating months of my flying career. This family’s in the last row, bottle-blonde mom, kid in a car seat, chunky, hunky husband in a t-shirt and shorts. He gets up out of his seat to get who-knows-what out of the overhead bin and I clock the naked-lady tattoo on his calf with an inward eye-roll. How classy, I groan, if only to myself. She must be very proud. What kind of woman, after all, runs around with the kind of jackass that parades around town with porn on his body? He was pretty cute, mind you, and they’d both been above-average friendly, but my knee-jerk impulse was not just to judge them, but harshly. They were airplane passengers, after all — they must have been doing something wrong.

I mean, it only took about five seconds — which can seem like a long time when you’re right in the middle of it — but the other shoe did eventually drop. My husband has a tattoo of a naked guy. A big one. Oh wait — have a tattoo of a naked guy. On my calf. And it drives me crazy when people react to it like it’s porn. “You have a penis on your leg!” No I don’t; it’s Michelangelo’s David, for Heaven’s sake. It’s not a penis, it’s Art! Heed the Bible verse referenced by another of my tattoos: Don’t judge me! (“Luke 6:37,” as my left ankle will tell you.) Oy, the irony…

Naturally, as someone who has one, I don’t really have a problem with naked tattoos. I was even moved to write Jared’s (color and shading to come) a little backstory. And because it’s in my favorite little 100-word format, I’m sharing it here. I’m sure this guy’s topless Waikiki wahine has her own story, too. I didn’t ask to hear it, but if its moral is “Give people a break,” she should consider her message received.

J's PHX Tat2Rising from the ashes is one thing, but exploding in flames hurt, dammit, and this had been a tough recovery.  His strength trickled back so slowly when he mourned a mortal lover, and he languished being earthbound.  His wings took forever to regenerate, and waiting, he was a prisoner of his muscle-heavy body, clumsier every day as gravity mocked his lavishly furled tail feathers.  Finally today, the anxious rustling of impatient wings had woken him.  He stayed for an extra minute to savor the lust for freedom — suddenly delicious, its quenching imminent — and then took to the sky.

 

Vote for Me

vote

As a flying writer (a writing flyer?), I feel more or less obligated to enter travel writing competitions when I hear about them.  Even when I was suppressing most of my writerly impulses, I journaled like crazy on trips, and my first novels are as much about travel as they are about love, coffee, and wine.  When adventure travel specialists Pure Travel asked entrants into their 2013 Travel Writing Competition to “write and tell us about ‘The worst journey of your life,'” I was kind of surprised that I didn’t have millions of ideas.  I travel for a living and for fun, I should be up to my neck in horror stories, right?  But of course, if you’re paying attention when you travel, even the nightmares (discovering you’ve come down with dysentery while bouncing across Cameroon in a bush taxi, for example, or landing in Taipei in the eye of a typhoon) evolve into retrospective fun; if you’re not going to learn something about yourself — or about when not to take imodium — what’s the point of leaving home?

The story I eventually submitted, about a passenger losing her mind one night and the very senior flight attendant who did not appreciate the disruption, is true.  “Millie” is not her real name, but she sure did whip off her pantyhose and use them as restraints; our flight is one of the reasons crews now have access to handcuffs in the cabin.  I was also tickled to learn — and am delighted to tell you — that “Don’t Mess With Millie” made the short list, and is one of the Top Ten stories competing for the Grand Prize.  You can read it on the Pure Travel Adventure Holidays website, and if you like it, you can vote for it to win by sending an email to competition@puretravel.com with the name of your chosen entry in the subject line.  (For more details, visit their blog.)

It was, to date, the most nightmarish and never-ending flight of my career — some days I’m surprised we’re not still on it.  But it is also one of my better stories.  And as much as I love a chintzy souvenir shop and adding to my Refrigerator Magnets of the World collection, stories are among the easiest mementos to pack, and far and away the most fun to share.

pure travel 2013

Vote for Me! Send an email with Don’t Mess With Millie as the subject to competition@puretravel.com before December 6th!

And Yet None of My Bullies Were Fat…

diet coke guyThere’s a Golden Girls episode where Blanche meets a guy at the library, agrees to go out on a date with him, balks when she realizes he’s in a wheelchair, and hilarity (naturally) ensues.  At one point, the girls find themselves sitting around the kitchen table hashing out the pros and cons of Blanche’s latest romantic entanglement — you remember that episode, right? — and Sophia weighs in:  “Just because a man’s in a wheelchair,” she says, “doesn’t mean he can’t satisfy a woman.”  Invited to elaborate, she unspools one of her famous Sicily stories.  “Picture it,” she says (and I paraphrase here), “Sicily: 1918.  A man in a wheelchair satisfies a woman.  It’s a short story but I think it proves my point.”  In this spirit, the following post:

When I was in the eighth grade (nearly thirty years ago, I am aghast to calculate), our school was one block from the nearest 7-11, and, with unfettered access to the Big Gulp soda fountain, I became what might charitably be described as a fan of Diet Coke.  I had only recently grown tall enough that my body stretched my weight up and down rather than from side to side, and I wanted to stay that way, and it had the word “diet” in it — if one Diet Coke could make you skinny, imagine the miracles that 200 fluid ounces a day could make manifest.  On the very first day (literally Day One) of high school, therefore, I didn’t even hesitate — why would I? — to plunk in my two nickels or whatever vending machines cost in those days and order up my Diet Coke come lunch time.  I wish I was exaggerating, but the hostile, shitty, faggot-bashing, limp-wristed lisping “Diet Coke” heckling started up before the actual can even clunked out of the machine, and it carried on for two years, until I transferred schools.  You read that right: I was intimidated and verbally hassled by the same eight or ten dickheads every single day (they did take weekends off), for two years, because I drank a fucking Diet Coke with my lunch.  A few of my so-called friends bailed on me, one or two of the gayer ones actively participating in the bashing bullshit to deflect attention from the faggoty gold bracelets with which they dripped, but my friends who had the balls and the strength of character to stick around were heckled by association, some to an extent of which I have only been made aware in recent years.  All because of a can of pop.  (Well, that, and a crippling fear of Self, with which I truly hope those guys grew up to come to terms, not that it’s my job to wish them well.)DIET COKE

Skipping ahead: Picture it: The airplane the other day, from LAX to Denver.  A big gay flight attendant serves a Diet Coke to an honest-to-God (according to his leather jacket, leather hat, t-shirt, and tattoos) Hell’s Angel.  And this burly, bearded, busted-up-lookin’ biker dude, when offered the can, demurs, satisfied with a little 6-oz. plastic cup of it.  Which is fine; I’m way past the point of judging people by what they order to drink on the airplane (although not above judging them by how they order it.  “Would you like something to drink?”  “No, thank you.  Just a black coffee and a tomato juice.”  OK, if those aren’t “to drink,” I’m gonna need to know just what the hell you are planning to do with them before I serve them to you…).  You want a Diet Coke, I’m happy to serve it to you, and you wanna split the can with your tough-as-nails wife, frankly, I think there’s a certain romance in there somewhere.  But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t strike me; would those Regis dipshits have had the nerve to laugh at this guy?  To belittle or berate him over a beverage choice?  And pay for it — if you’ll allow me to rhetorically ascribe imaginary and stereotypical violent tendencies to a man who was perfectly friendly to me — by spitting their teeth into a puddle of their own blood in the parking lot?   I doubt it.  And not least because by now I bet they all drink the shit on airplanes, too.  A big reason that being bullied is so frustrating is that it can be so frickin’ arbitrary.  I was an easy target, and self-loathing has to go somewhere, although a better place to put it would be Away.  I’m out now.  I’ll never be skinny again, and I don’t drink more than a 6-pack of pop in a year.  I serve a million Diet Cokes a year, to every kind of person, without even thinking about it.  It struck me funny the other day, is all — this dude as butch as they come, and all the shit I had to put up with?  Like I said, it’s a short story.  But surely it proves some kind of point…

Dang, Those Kakes Musta Been Tasty

tastykakeSo I ran into this guy Sanchez the other day at the airport. Always a pleasure; he’s gay, he’s gorgeous, and he’s always happy to see me. We first flew together when he was brand spankin’ new and I was still based in San Francisco, and shared some memorable experiences in the three days we were together, not the least of which was getting drunk out of his flask in the aisles of the Dollar Tree at the Mall of America, but it always takes him a second to place me. His “hello” is always gregarious, his cutie-pie face always lights up under his latest haircut or facial hair experiment, but his eyes invariably narrow while he racks his brain, and I brace for the announcement. Because we are always in the computer room with a hundred other flight attendants, and he always remembers, loudly, with a snap of his fingers: “We had the Tastykake Incident!”

The Tastykake Incident, which would have been unmanageably mortifying with pretty much any other flight attendant I’ve ever flown with, was actually quite hilarious in context, and I am not ashamed of it in principle. Sanchez and I had bonded over our common body image issues and love of snack cakes in general, and what happened on the flight from Minneapolis to Denver seemed almost inevitable in its poetic timing. But it would be OK with me if even once in a while he could say hi to me without telling everybody within earshot all about how we broke the jumpseat. Continue reading