Flying is never fun…especially when you have a layover in Atlanta, like I did last Wednesday. I was coming home from a week spent in sunny Florida, visiting my parents, drinking Corona Light’s out by the pool and avoiding friends from high school at the supermarket.
My flight from my small hometown in Florida to Atlanta was just your average commuter flight, without any excitement or peanuts. But as soon as we landed, I got a big smile on my face because I had exactly one hour until my connecting flight took off, which left me with plenty of time to grab a cocktail and go to the smoking lounge.
In case no one has been to the Atlanta airport – or smokes cigarettes – there are 5 designated smoking lounges, one for each terminal, in which you can sit down and take a long drag of a Marlboro Light without having to leave the airport and go through security again. Those lounges are heaven.
I finished my three cigs and then inhaled a glass of Pinot Grigio at the bar and arrived at my gate just in time to board. I made my way to my designated seat on the aisle and took out my Sudoku book, ready for a fast and easy flight.
Not five minutes after I got settled and completed two puzzles, this guy comes barreling down the aisle, suitcase in hand, and stops at the row right behind me. “Ughhhh, can I just put this down for a second?” he gasped to no one.
A gay. My face lit up like it was Christmas morning. I turned around to look at Mr. Dramatic, and was pleasantly surprised – and shocked – that he was a tall, muscular, and gorgeous man. I smiled, weakly, at him and he threw his bag in the overhead compartment and took his seat, directly behind me. “Now would have been a good time to use Head & Shoulders,” I thought to myself.
Another five minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked up to see an Asian couple standing before me. Now, I knew I was in my correct assigned seat, so I don’t know what they could possibly want, unless to get an autograph for my food blog.
It was neither.
They were telling me and Mr. Biceps (which I will call him from now on) that they just got standby tickets on this flight and they were split up, one sitting in the middle seat in my row and one sitting in the middle seat in Bicep’s row, and they asked if one of us would mind moving so they could sit together. I started to get agitated and began to roll my eyes at them, but then realized that if I complied with their request, I would be snuggling up to my new boyfriend while we watched the in-flight movie.
Before I could respond, Biceps said that he needed to be on the aisle because he needed to do some work, and because he was 6’4’’, he needed the leg room. I turned to join the group discussion and said that I would move over to the middle seat and he could take mine, so the Asian couple could sit next to each other. Normally, I would tell them to suck it up and they should be happy to be on the same flight, but that response wouldn’t get me closer to having sex with this guy, so I just smiled and scooted over.
Biceps grabbed his laptop case and to-go bag from Chick-Fil-A and took his new seat. I smiled at him and said, “Welcome to row 28. You made the right decision.” He just looked at me, put his tray table down, and started eating his chicken sandwich. I threw that Sudoku book in the seatback pocket in front of me and pulled out one of the interesting novels I bought for my trip but never read.
The Asian couple thanked us profusely and made a comment saying that they would buy us a drink for our generosity. “Ohhh, I could go for a glass of white wine,” I said with a wink while he thanked them and said, “A Bourbon would be nice.” I hated myself that I said I wanted white wine.
He continued to eat his chicken sandwich, doused with BBQ sauce and honey mustard, while I picked up my book and pretended to read it. Before I knew it, we were leaving the gate and ready to take off. All I could think about was whether I put on clean underwear or not.
While sitting on the tarmac, idle and waiting for the other plans ahead of us to take off, I kept trying to think of a good conversation starter, but “Headed to New York?” seemed boring and obvious. For the first time in my life, I was at a loss for words. Usually being able to hold a conversation with a door knob or someone from Jersey, I could not think of one single opener for this guy. Instead of putting my earphones in and minding my own business, I instead leaned over and said, “That sandwich looks good.”
“Why did I say that?” I am asking myself now, repeatedly. Why did I have to make a comment about the sandwich? I could have said anything – literally anything – that would have been more interesting and less creepy. I mean, what did I expect him to respond to that with? “It really is divine. Would you like a bite? And maybe, after, we can talk about our likes, interests, and favorite movies.” No. Of course he didn’t say that. He just looked at me, with BBQ sauce in the corner of his mouth, and nodded in agreement that yes, the sandwich was good.
Once we took off, I realized that our conversation had come to a sudden halt, so I put back in my earphones, blared my Ashlee Simpson playlist, and closed my eyes, hoping for a quick nap before the snack cart came my way. While trying to get some rest, this is when I noticed my new prospective boyfriend had some sort of nervous tick or habit. I wouldn’t necessarily call it Tourette’s, but I wouldn’t call it normal either. His left leg kept shaking, up and down, like it was injected with 3 liters of Cuban Coffee. I didn’t mind it at first, because with every shake and quiver, his leg would gently graze mine, giving me comfort and security. I also noticed that he had some sort of an OCD behavior. Although his sandwich was finished, his giant Styrofoam cup of Diet Coke and ice was not. He would pick up his cup, bite the end of the straw and push it down, making a horrible plastic-meets-Styrofoam sound. Then, he would take a sip, shake the cup twice, and put it down below his seat. This ritual continued for the next thirty minutes. Finally, his drink was empty, but then he did one of my biggest pet peeves: he chewed on the ice.
Once the pilot turned off the seat belt sign, he went to his carry-on bag and pulled out his laptop, because remember – he needed to sit on the aisle seat so he could get some work done. If the leg movement and the ice chewing wasn’t enough, now he was typing away at record speed, continually jabbing me in the chest with his oversized (and bulging) arms. “Sorry” he would say every time he hit the space bar. “Don’t you dare apologize,” I said lovingly.
So there I was, sitting in the middle seat, next to an overweight man sleeping on my shoulder and the could-be love of my life gyrating his legs and hammering away on his keyboard, all while chewing on ice. There wasn’t one Ashlee Simpson song on my iPod that could deafen the sound. I started to think maybe he was nervous about flying. Being somewhat of an anxious person myself, I understood just what he was going through and suddenly felt so rude about shutting my eyes and putting my earphones in when maybe he just needed someone to talk to. I put my iPod away and picked up the Sky Mall catalog, because what’s a better conversation starter than a Tetris Lamp or a LED Grill Light Spatula.
With every turn of the page, I would “ooh” and “ahh” at the ridiculously overpriced items for purchase. A few times I caught him take a glance at the magazine, but missed his opportunity to chime in and say, “Who needs a Canadian Year-Round Rain Barrel?”
After pretending to read Sky Mall, I gave up and started playing Candy Crush. Thirty minutes and 2 beaten levels later, the drink and snack cart made it to our row. As the flight attendant asked me what I would like to drink, the Asian couple both went to the bathroom, forgetting – or avoiding – their promise to buy me and Mr. Biceps a drink. I leaned over and, with my most sultry voice, ordered a Ginger Ale and a bag of pretzels. I looked over to the guy sleeping next to me and decided that he, too, would want a bag of pretzels, so I ordered some on his behalf. Whether he ended up getting said pretzel’s is completely off topic.
When it was my boyfriend’s turn to order his drink, he picked up his empty Chick-Fil-A cup and asked the flight attendant if he could fill it up with some Diet Coke, like he was at a 7-11. Even I, a pain in the ass in most situations, was pretty shocked at the gall of his request. “This is Delta, buddy. You might be able to get away with that on Virgin or United,” I wanted to tell him. “Look at me. I ordered a Ginger Ale and he gave me half a can. And once the fizz settles, it will be approximately three sips.”
The flight attendant looked at me quizzically and I gave him the “Don’t look at me, I don’t know him” face while I shrugged my shoulders. He smiled (because how could you not smile at someone as beautiful as him) and said that he couldn’t fill up his cup. The guy looked saddened. Like his parents took him to Disney World and the only ride he wanted to go on was The Tea Cups and it was closed for maintenance. It was in this moment that I witnessed the craziest and most unexpected gesture from a Delta employee; he said, “How about I just give you the entire can of Diet Coke?”
The. Entire. Can.
Now, for some of you higher class people, getting a whole can of soda on a plane is commonplace. “Everyone gets cans of Sprite after we finish our champagne and ahi seared Tuna,” they will prevail. But, alas. I am not privileged. (You should have picked up on that when I said I had a layover in Atlanta).
Biceps graciously accepted the can of soda and, and without pressing his luck, asked for some ice. The flight attendant looked behind up, making sure his supervisor was nowhere to be seen, and filled up the cup with ice. “More ice for him to chew! Yippee!!” I cried.
Once the drink cart rolled away, the Asians came back to their seats and avoided eye contact. I looked at my watch and saw that I only had 45 minutes left to seal the deal. Or at least get some sort of a conversation going. Not having the time or creative energy to come up with an excellent topic of conversation, I just leaned in and said, “Wow. You got the whole can. They don’t do that for just anybody.”
He gave me a half-smile and said, “Well, I needed my drink to be in a cup with a lid because I am working and I do not want to get sticky soda all over my keyboard. Plus, I am really thirsty.”
“So am I, apparently.”
And that was it. I gave him many opportunities to strike up a conversation with me, and he just wasn’t feeling it. With only thirty minutes left to landing, I cut my losses and decided him and I would never be an “us.”
But then, five minutes later, I was bored again. I glanced over at his computer screen to see what kind of work he was doing. Mostly replying back to emails and using SalesForce. Trying to use my one good eye to do some detective work, I found out his full name, company, email address, and Instagram handle. Very stealthily, I opened up the Notes section of my iPhone and entered in all of his information, already planning the email I will send him once I get back home.
For a half second, I felt so incredibly pathetic and sad. I mean, sure this guy was attractive, and yes, our knees did touch for an entire 90 minutes, but if he wanted to talk to me, he would have talked to me. Why was I being so creepy by snooping on his computer screen and saving his contact information?
Because, ladies and gentlemen, that’s just who I am.
I put back on my music and assured myself I would never have those self-deprecating moments again. Well, until I put on a bathing suit.
At 8:48pm, we landed safely at LaGuardia airport, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. The passengers all grabbed their bags and headed off the plane, some back to their apartments and some to their hotels in the city. Feeling a sudden burst of redemption, I went to ask Mr. Biceps if he wanted to share a cab, but when I looked up to ask, he was already running towards the exit. “I guess it’s for the best,” I thought. Mostly because I am sure he wasn’t traveling to Astoria, Queens.
Once in my taxi, I pulled out my phone and found his Instagram account. He had already posted a picture of the NYC Skyline from the plane with the caption: “New York, New York! #beautiful #nyc #skyline #vacation #getmeadrink
It took everything for me not to double-tap the picture. Instead, I texted my friend, Louis, to tell him all about my encounter.
Me: I met the love of my life on my flight home tonight. He is tall, handsome, and has an incredible body. We talked the entire flight and he asked me to go for drinks tomorrow night. I think this is the one!
LB: No way! That’s so kewl! What did you guys chat about?
Me: Everything, Louis. All of it. Where we grew up, our families. Our jobs. Our dreams. It was incredible.
LB: That’s great.
Me: [Image Sent]
LB: Oh, wow! He is cute!
LB: …but where did you get that picture?
Me: I screenshotted it from his Facebook.
LB: He added you as a friend?
Me: Approaching home, gotta go!
At first I felt bad about lying to my friend, but we have this running joke between us that I am the desperate and pitiful one, and I just didn’t want him to think it was true.
So, maybe my plane ride wasn’t that exciting after all. I didn’t get a full cup of soda and I didn’t get the cute guy’s phone number. It probably wouldn’t have worked out anyways. But, just as my cab pulled up to my front door, I realized I did have one thing: that extra bag of pretzels.
An addendum: My email to Mr. Biceps
Right off the bat, I have to warn you that this may be the most random and strangest email you have ever gotten, so for that, I apologize.
My name is James and I was the man sitting next to you on flight 887 from Atlanta to New York City. (I was wearing the purple checkered shirt and definitely not playing Sudoku).
I wish I could come up with some amazing and riveting reason as to why I have attained your email address (I work for the CIA, I’m friends with your sister, etc) but, the truth is, I took a peek at your computer screen while you were on Gmail and wrote it down. By the way, I love how you spelled “dude” “d00d”. Very clever.
Anyways, I thought you were really cute and I was hoping to get a chance to talk to you more on our flight, but I was reading “War & Peace” and you were busily working, and I did not want to disrupt you.
As evidenced from your Instagram account (I’ll explain later) that you are in NYC for a few days visiting, and I would love the chance to take you out for a drink (I’ll even buy you your own can of Diet Coke).
I hope this email finds you well and you do not think I am creepy, weird, or pathetic. I just felt a connection with you and would hate myself if I didn’t at least take a chance. Someone in my high school yearbook used the quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and ever since I read that, it has been my life mantra. Well, that and “More bacon please” LOL.
Enjoy your vacation in New York, and I hope to speak (or see??) you soon.