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.

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Men at Work?

Art imitating Life as it occasionally will, much of the fun in my novel Kiss Me, Straight takes place when a gang of flight attendants is turned loose on Sydney, Australia.  The beer flows, men chunder…

I flew international out of San Francisco for the first ten years of my career, and, like most of the gay guys, I loved flying Sydney and leapt at every opportunity to do so.  Nights like this were a big reason why:

You’ll know this story is from a while back, because it opens with me at the gym.  With three other flight attendants on a Sydney layover, mind you; I had mostly gone along to be sociable.  I think we were all a little surprised by quite how sociable our little outing turned out. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading