Forty Things I Never Would Have Gotten to Do (Part IV: The Big Finish)

We love fritopies!

Today I turn forty, lying in the loving arms of our favorite Santa Fe spa.  We’re big on Landmark Birthdays around here.  We went to Hawaii for Jared’s 30th last year, and I won sixty nickles (!) in Las Vega$ on my 21st, once upon a time.  Oh, the plans we had for my fortieth: we were going to go to Australia.  To France.  On a cruise!  To Buenos Aires.  On a really glamorous cruise!!  We fly for free, after all; the possibilities were endless.  And yet, free flights were kind of what steered us towards Santa Fe.  Mind you, we’ll go pretty much anywhere to soak in hot water (I’ve gone as far as Iceland and New Zealand for no other reason); we love New Mexican food (stuffed sopapillas!  Frito pie!); and there’s a Trader Joe’s on the way out of town — try finding one of those in Paris.  But Santa Fe became the Official Choice when I realized that what I didn’t want to do with the Longest Day of the Year was spend it sitting around an airport, fingers crossed, hoping to get on an airplane.  Flights are too full, airports are hectic, and, like, I go through a TSA checkpoint every day for work — it’s definitely not my idea of a good time on my days off.  I mean, if one of the hot ones would come over and frisk you, that would at least be something…

So we drove here, in Jared’s little yellow car, and we can do whatever we want on our own schedule and take home all the Trader Joe’s-brand liquids we can cram in the car.  And, as is so often the case, taking a step back from My Airline Life, even if only for a few days, helps me view it through the slightly rose-tinted lens of Appreciation.  An important perspective, you’ll agree, when curating the last ten items to be included in our series,

Forty Things I (probably) Never Would Have Gotten to Do If It Wasn’t For My Airline Job:

10. Run amok in Sydney, a city to which I never worked a trip that I didn’t hope would be my last — every layover a race against the clock to find the situation (read: the Boy) that would entice me to stay forever

9.Upgrade a big fat guy to First Class when the person next to him demanded — loudly, for the benefit of the entire airplane — that I do something about the fact that he had to sit next to a big fat guy

8. Get in honest-to-god trouble (like, there’s a write-up in my file) from another grown man for wearing argyle socks

7. Accost and adore the delightfully chatty and warm Bonnie Raitt after upgrading her to First Class on a flight from London to San Francisco

6. Be tenderized like meat in a Shanghai massage parlor

5. Stock my stationery drawer at the World’s Largest Hundred Yen Store

4. Watch the men play Beach Volleyball (hubba hubba) during the Sydney Olympics

3. Hike to the top of the Great Wall of China in the middle of the night in the pitch black all by myself

2. Be approached by a psychic on an airplane and assured that I could pursue my passion without fear, and thus

1. Write a book inspired, in part, by the people I’ve met, places I’ve been, and things I’ve seen at this wacky gig.  Kiss Me, Straight chronicles the (mis)adventures of a lovelorn flight attendant as he chases a romance with his sexy-but-straight crush around the world, and it’s comin’ at ya from JMS Books later this year.  I never could have written this particular story were it not for this Big Career, and I might be more grateful for that opportunity than for any of the others.  I hope, come November, that it’ll put a few smiles on your face, too.

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!