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October 24, 2010

My Friends Call Me Mary

"Is this your last flight for tonight?" I ask the flying waitress as I board the flight.

I've got a beer in a go cup I'm sipping through a straw and I'm waving it around like I own the place.

"Yeah. How bout you?"

"Colorado's my home," I reply. "You?"

"I live in Parker."

"Fair enough."

It doesn't matter that she colors her hair. Or that she's over 40. That's OK. She's thin and beautiful and every man on the plane is smitten with her.

She loves talking on the intercom and she's got us in stitches with her spiel. Some people have a knack for that. Probably, she could have been a comedian. But she's got us rolling.

I'm in the last row of the plane. Seat 12D. A window seat on a CRJ 200 that doesn't recline a millimeter.

I ran out of clean clothes some time ago. I reek and my socks smell so bad they'd strip creosote from a telephone pole.

I'm peeling off layers of pants and jackets. Trying to get down to something close to normal. You've pretty much got to be a contortionist to take off two jackets when there's a guy in the seat next to you and as I'm peeling off the layers, Blondie shows up and directs the guy sitting beside me to another seat so I'll have more room and she winks at me.

I fire up my laptop as she's walking down the aisle, peddling drinks to the unwashed heathens on United's non-stop flight 6251 to Denver..

She's rolling the trolley down the aisle and every man on the plane snaps to attention, trying to reel her in as she passes with their lines. Trying to put something together.

Maybe she's the right age where she's going through menopause and has hot flashes and her skin feels of sweat in the dead of winter. But no one cares. They see something deeper in her.

She wears rings on her fingers but it's hard to know. What could they mean? They don't look like wedding rings necessarily. Maybe just a decoy to ward off unwanted advances.

And she turns to me.

"Diet Coke? Whatdya got for me?" I ask.

"Diet Coke."

She starts to pour a drink.

"I drove my motorcycle a thousand miles this weekend," I state flatly.

"Where'd ya' go?" She asks.

"Around Lake Michigan."

"I've never been. You want to show me the pictures?" She asks.

"Three minutes. The slideshow lasts three minutes."

"OK. We'll have plenty of time on this flight," she announces.

And I'm fiddling with my laptop when she comes by collecting trash and I just ignore her cuz something deep inside tells me this is the right thing to do.

A few minutes later, she comes by with another trash bag, but this time, she's got it half-squirreled away and it's nearly empty and I sorta half-look at her and she says "I'm ready...are you ready?"

And she sits down beside me and reaches over and takes the laptop and the headphones and she watches the three minute slideshow sitting in the seat beside me.

Mostly, she's expressionless, so I know she's probably as dumb as a bag of hammers. Probably every bit as dense as the last one I went out with, if not more so. But she laughs when she sees where the guy wrecked his car in the woods and I think maybe.

Then, as the slideshow ends, the people across the aisle complain that it's too hot.

"There's some seats in the front. Why don't you go up there?," she offers.

"Who sings that?" she asks as she turns to me.

"I'm not sure. It's the soundtrack for some show on TV," I offer.

"I think it's the 'Sons of Anarchy', she states.

And I'm thinking...'Sons of Anarchy'? WTF? Like...are you serious? It sounds pretty much like Tracy Chapman. Not at all like some band called 'Sons of Anarchy' or 'Death to All Betrayers'.

As the temperature in the cabin approaches the melting point of lead, Blondie leaves to turn down the temperature in the plane, which I suddenly notice is sweltering like Mississippi in August.

I look it up and it turns out the song is Nostalgia by Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo.

I imagine that I'm on top of her and she's having a hot flash. I can feel it all over her body and I'm blowing on her naked body, trying to cool her off, but it's no use. The heat comes from the inside, so I stand up and turn on the fan and we lay back in bed and plan our upcoming trip to the Napali coast of Kauai.

Presently, she returns and I ask her if she liked the photos.

"I did...they're gorgeous," she swoons.

"Have you ever been to Victoria?" she asks.

"No," I admit. "I've been to Jasper, Banff, Calgary, and Windor. But not Victoria."

"Oh you have to go. You have to go." She whines. "There are so many whales there. It's so beautiful. I was in Maui, but we didn't see any whales."

"Maui is the worst," I complain."Have you been to the other islands?"

"No. Only Maui."

"Maui sucks. All of the development is on the leeward side of the island. Did you take the Road to Hana?"

"Yeah. That was nice."

"Yeah. It was nice because you went to the windward side of the island. That's where the islands are green. On the North and East side of the islands. Because that's where the Trade Winds blow from. On Maui, they put all of the development on the wrong side of the island. You need to go to Hilo or Lanikai or the Na Pali Coast."

"Does it rain a lot there?"

"Of course it does. But you fly for free. What do you care?"

Suddenly, I realized that the temperature in the cabin was approaching thermonuclear meltdown again.

The people across from us complained and again, she left. I'm thinking..."Would you people please shut the fuck up? Like, how often is it that you get a good looking flight attendant to sit down next to you on a flight and these schmucks have made her leave twice."

I want to lean across the aisle and tell him, "Look, buddy....if that flight attendant sits back down by me, how about you tell your woman to shut her trap, huh? Like, I don't care if it gets hotter than the sun on this flight. You tell your little lady to put a sock in it. She's cramping my style here. You got it?"

This is what I want to say, but of course, I don't say anything and he goes back to reading some little pamphlet in his lap and she goes to the front of the plane and pushes some buttons and the temperature begins to drop so that it doesn't feel like we're standing on the surface of Mercury.

Presently, she returns with a pen and a notepad.

"Once you turn 40, your memory just goes," she announces.

"That's what I hear," I reply.

And she asks me all of the best places to go in Hawaii, and I tell her all the places I liked because I used to work there and I've been to all of the islands, at least, all of the ones that are developed, anyway.

"You have to be careful on your motorcycle," she warns me. "I have a friend that was killed on one."

"See....why do people do that?"

"Do what?" she asked.

"Why do people feel compelled to tell you about every nightmarish crash they're aware of when they see you toting a helmet around? Why is that? I mean, if I told you I'd driven a rental car around Lake Michigan, you wouldn't have said 'I know a family of six in a Toyota Camry that was crushed beneath a tanker truck on the interstate and burned alive while they screamed for help.' "

"No. I guess you're right about that. I'd never thought of it that way, I suppose."

"Fifty thousand people die every year in car crashes and it doesn't even make the news. But if you see someone on a motorcycle, everyone feels compelled to regurgitate their most horrific, gruesome stories. Why is that?"

"I dunno. I suppose you're right. Still, all the same...be careful out there, OK?"

"OK. I will. By the way, I didn't get your name."

"My friends call me Mary."

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 24, 2010 at 8:01 PM


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