I’ve had some odd experiences with flight attendants.
There was the time I was on a flight when a gaggle of them, all women, took seats around me. It was me and about a dozen young trainee stewardesses in uniform in the back of a plane. It was like living for two hours in someone’s fetish fantasy world.
Then there was the time I found myself in the back of a plane with just one young flight attendant. She had an old woman’s name and was good looking, and in a former professional life made appearances at bars in bathing suits provided by beer companies. We had a nice conversation, and I summoned up the courage to ask for her phone number. She gave it to me, but did not promise, I later realized, to remember who I was when I called it. (How was I supposed to know that I wasn’t supposed to actually use the number?)
And then, last week, I found my favorite flight attendant ever. 6/18/09, Delta flight 18, ATL to LGA, 8:40 p.m. In a cabin full of half-asleep, ornery travelers, she rocked the snack cart like she was at a party with all the best music. She sashayed, she shimmied, she tossed her hair. She handed out peanuts and cookies.
From three rows out, I heard her bantering with passengers, complementing one on his choice of peanuts, the next on her package of cookies. I heard people laugh at her jokes. She paused, opening her mouth to sneeze, and stuck out her arms as if to gather strength to fight it back. It was a test of will made visible, and people started pulling for her. She had fans.
She got to my row. The dude across the aisle from me couldn’t hear very well, so he couldn’t decipher her offer, which she interpreted to mean that he couldn’t decide between the nuts or biscuits. She gave him both, and suggested that he eat them together. “Maybe it’ll taste like a peanut butter cookie,” she said, hopefully. “But you know what you should really do? Ask the ladies pushing the drink cart for a lime to squeeze on your cookies.” She thought about her suggestion and then began to insist. “I’m going to come back and check to make sure you do it.” But unwilling to wait for validation, she got the limes herself and stood there for the result. I tried it. It was surprisingly, shockingly good, and weirdly familiar. Her face brightened with excitement. “Tastes like key lime pie, right?” she asked. Yes. That’s a great call. “It’s what broke flight attendants eat. We have to get creative.”
The couple next to me looked at her with a sort of kind confusion. “I’m sorry, I scare people when I have this much energy at night,” she said. She made hands like holding a giant hamburger. “I just ate the biggest Rice Krispies treat you’ve ever seen. I am on a such a sugar high!” Then, turning back to her cart, to herself, she trilled a quiet falsetto, “And then I’m going to crash!”
Who makes this kind of joke on an airplane? This woman was amazing. Forget paying rights for movies; airlines should start hiring for in-flight entertainment. Look, Delta: hire a few more people like this, and next time I might even buy one of those boxes of potato chips and mealy apples.