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.

 

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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…

Stuffed Shirt Steps Up

Like many flight attendants, I have a tendency to lump airplane passengers into one of three distinct categories: The Frequent Flyers, The Hot Guys, and the mass of faceless walking F.A.R. violations we’ll call Everybody Else.  Very occasionally these will overlap, as in the case of the rare and exotic Hot Frequent Flyer Guy, and sometimes they will collide, such as the time that a Frequent Flyer made a crack to me about the low-riding basketball shorts on a spectacularly round-rumped Hot Guy and I shrugged and told him, “I’d hit that,” but for the most part, the passengers in each category settle onto the airplane with varying degrees of overhead bin drama and hew to a time-honored code of Expected Behavior.

I have a definite love/hate relationship with the Frequent Flyer.  On the one hand, they know the drill and bring few surprises.  They know where their suitcase fits and where it doesn’t, they often hang their own coats, and most of them understand Airplane Sign Language — I can raise an eyebrow at their phone and have it turned off, and when I jerk my chin at their empty wine glass, they hold their hand to where I should fill it or, if they have finished, they hand it back to me.  On the whole, the Frequent Flyer is a flight attendant’s favorite kind of passenger: Easy.

But I’m not gonna lie: it is also the Frequent Flyer that usually sets my eyes to rolling.  I have a tendency to look out into the First Class cabin and see Chicago in Winter: a blustery snow storm of white male windbags jockeying to assert their status and get the recognition they’ve got coming to them by hook or by crook; guys who can barely condescend to mutter their drink order, refuse to remove their headphones but become irate when they can’t hear you, and complain about the meal offerings for sport.  (One guy told me he wished he’d known that I was going to run out of the chicken entree selection before he’d gotten on the airplane, and I asked him why.  “Were you going to go up and down the terminal looking for a chicken breast to bring with you?”  He wanted badly to be affronted by my cheek, but eventually laughed and conceded that the pasta would be fine.)  It is easy for me, if I give my attitude free reign, to write off the Frequent Flyers as a surly bunch of social-climbing fusspots and to treat them, as a result, with a certain degree of professionally questionable disdain. Continue reading

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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