Sunrise at the Austin-Bergstrom Airport
Phew! As I start to write this, I am on an airplane, at about 34,000 feet, and my head is killing me. Of course since I did it to myself, I can’t complain TOO much, now can I? But I’m getting ahead of myself . . .
This week I went to the Philadelphia area to work with yet another customer who was deeply angry at my company due to the service he received from the guy my company just had to fire for alcoholism. It seems that he had been there to do routine maintenance on one mass spec, and before it was all over, the customer had to return four instruments to our factory. Right or wrong, the assumption and perception of the customer here was that the guy we fired caused the problems, and so they are mad as hell and have no faith in our field service department. We have rehired a guy that we laid off last year to cover this region, but as angry as this customer was, my manager decided that he would rather send me than this other guy. I will sure be happy when the dust settles from behind the guy we lost. He was one of the best guys I’ve ever worked with, one of the few I truly respected. It hurts like hell to think of him, and every time I have to do something like this, it is like opening the wound up over and over. The good news is that I have several really good TG friends in the Philly area and so I was happy to have the chance to see them again.
Tuesday morning I checked in at the Delta counter as usual. While I am not as friendly with him by a long shot as I am with the lady I often mention, I did at least recognize the gentleman that checked me in as I’ve seen him many times over the years.
“Well, I haven’t seen this ID before!” he said with a huge grin as I handed him my Texas state ID with my female picture on it. It has all of my legal and male info on it, but I took the picture while I was dressed as female.
“It’s me, I promise.” I told him with a smile and he just let out a laugh.
“Oh, I know, it’s just that I’m used to seeing your other ID!” This was of course referring to my male driver license.
“Yeah I like this one much better! It doesn’t tend to raise as many eyebrows!” I told him with a wink.
“Well it certainly looks more like you. I’m guessing it’s a lot less hassle with TSA down the hall too huh?”
“Oh Yeah, big time, and it’s a lot less stress on me. They used to look at me pretty hard!” I told him, while demonstrating how the TSA used to compare my ID and I by glaring at my ID, glaring at him, glaring at my ID, and glaring at him again.
When we stopped laughing, I made my way to the very TSA line we had just been yapping about, and was rewarded by the inspector looking straight in to my eyes, grinning from ear to ear, and wishing me a safe flight. Once I’d gone through security, I sat on a bench putting my shoes on, putting my laptop away, and getting my jewelry back on. Imagine my joy when I realized that I had apparently dropped my ticket somewhere along the way! I made my way back to the security line where a TSA agent stopped me.
“Excuse me ma’am!” she said, holding her hand up to stop me from moving any closer to the X-ray machine. “Can I help you?”
“Well, I hope so! Being the brilliant individual that I am, I apparently managed to lose my ticket on the 30 foot walk through the check point.” I told her. She told me to wait there and soon she returned, carrying my ticket.
“Awesome! Thank you so much!”
I’d known that it would be relatively simple to get a new copy printed at the gate, but I still hadn’t wanted the hassle.
You know, I love flying Delta because they treat me well, and the majority of the time I get to fly first class, but I have come to realize that they really seem to suck at getting flights out on time. As seems to be the case so often these days, they informed us that our flight was going to be delayed by half an hour. Since I had only had 50 minutes to make my connection in Detroit as it was, I was less than thrilled about this. It made it almost certain that I was going to be missing my connecting flight and get the hassle of waiting in long lines of angry people to try and get a new flight, and then arriving many hours later than planned. I was sitting in the gate area worrying about this when a Delta customer service representative walks directly up to me.
“You should still be able to make your connection, but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve gone ahead and reserved you a seat on the next flight from Detroit to Philly just in case you don’t make your scheduled flight.” She told me, with a friendly and sympathetic smile.
“That is SO awesome! I was just sitting here worrying about that very thing, so thank you so much!” I replied, deeply touched by the concern and courtesy she had shown for me. As I sat there a moment longer, it occurred to me that I had not dealt with this woman today, and so she must have my name memorized from prior visits. As usual, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about so many people at the Austin airport knowing my name and being able to match it to my face in both male and female mode. Oh well, it’s a bit late to worry about that now, now aint it?!
As is my habit, as soon as I was in my seat on the plane, I turned on the overhead light and pulled out my paper back book and began to read it as people boarded and the plane began to taxi. As the plane starts moving, we all hear the loud “Bong” sound from someone pushing the flight attendant call button. Two or three seconds later, it goes off again, and then again, and continues to go off every few seconds.
“Bong. Bong. Bong bong. Bong bong bong.”
Over and over the damn thing sounds off loudly over the intercom until every one starts looking around in concern and irritation, trying to find the impatient person that must be pushing it over and over. Well, it turns out that no one was pushing it – the damned thing was going off all by itself. A couple of rows away from me, I can see the call button light above a gentleman going off and on all on its own, with no one pushing it. About the time I realized the thing was going off and on by itself, my reading light turns itself off, so I reached up and turned it back on.
“Bong. Bong. Bong bong. Bong bong bong.” Goes the attendant call button over and over and then off goes my reading light again, then again, then again. Everyone was looking at each other in bewilderment and irritation at the loud and persistent “bonging” noise over the intercom, and I was just beginning to think to myself that maybe this is a sign that I shouldn’t be on this plane, when it took off. Fortunately the problem went away shortly after take off, and the rest of the flight was made in blessed silence.
When my plane landed, my next flight was already boarding. I had only 20 minutes to get off this plane and make my way to my next plane two terminals away. I wasn’t about to run across the airport but I was stepping it out pretty good as I approached the next gate. Today I was wearing one of my favorite peasant skirts that I have told y’all about before. It’s long and made out of extremely thin and light weight materials, so it tends to swirl around your legs when you walk. It looks absolutely beautiful in motion, and boy was it ever in motion given how quickly I was walking to catch the flight.
“That is a beautiful outfit!” said the Delta rep as I walked up to her and handed her my ticket.
“Awe thanks! It is definitely one of my all time favorites!” I told her.
Part way through the flight, the flight attendants make their rounds asking everyone what they would like to drink. I went ahead and got a screwdriver (Vodka and Orange Juice), figuring ‘what the heck, might as well take advantage of flying first class!’ When I finished that drink, the adorable flight attendant returned and asked me if I wanted a refill.
“Hmmm . . . . “, I thought about it for a moment, but figured I really didn’t want to arrive tipsy. “Nah, how about a coffee?”
“Are you sure?” she said, with a huge grin on her face. Clearly she had noted my hesitation.
“You’re a bad influence aren’t you?!” I asked her with a grin of my own.
“Who, me?! Not at all! You want some Bailey’s cream in that coffee?” She asked me, and somehow her grin had gotten even bigger.
“Don’t tempt me! No, I think I’ll stick with the good old fashioned cream and sugar, but thanks!”
“Ok, ok! One coffee coming up!”
In about half an hour I was finishing my coffee when she walked by again. She looked at me with one eyebrow up, lifted her hand with her thumb and pinky finger extended, and rocked her hand back and forth near her mouth to simulate drinking a beer. I started laughing so hard that I startled the guy sitting next to me.
“You are SO bad! No thank you, I think I’m done for the flight.” I told her. Funny, her smiles and teasing made the flight so much more pleasant . . .
When the plane landed in Philadelphia I was shocked at the heat when I stepped off the plane! Usually when I travel from Austin to anyplace in the East, it feels like going back to spring or fall to me because it is so much cooler. Well not this time - it was HOT! I stood out in the heat waiting for the Avis shuttle bus, but apparently Avis is not running as many buses as their competition. I sat there for ten minutes and watched the shuttle buses for other companies come and go several times, and still no Avis bus. About to die of heat stroke, I dragged my bags back in to the terminal and waited there, peering out of the windows for the bus. In a few minutes I could see the Avis shuttle bus approaching, so I grabbed my bags and headed out to the stop. Much to my major irritation, the damned bus went right by me and never stopped, and since I had waited for ten minutes or more, this really irritated the hell outta me. I grabbed my bags and went back in to the terminal, and once again waited. I watched three National Car buses come and go over the next ten minutes, until at last, I saw another Avis bus approach. This time the damn thing stopped.
I had been invited to dinner tonight by Missy
and her wife Anne
. This is one of the sweetest couples that I have ever met. They are full of light and brightness, and their love and respect for each other is evident in all that they say and do. I couldn’t even point to any thing and say “See, this is why I feel this way about them”, because it’s not one big thing, it’s the countless small things that make it clear they love each other. They picked me up at my hotel, where we chatted for just long enough to be sure that we would be late for our dinner reservations. I don’t recall the name of the place, but it was a very nice restaurant. Missy and Anne have become pretty good friends with the owner, and have eaten there many times in both male and female modes, and the owner doesn’t seem to think it’s any big deal at all. He personally approached our table to ask what we would like to drink. Anne ordered something, I think a red wine, and then the proprietor looked at me waiting for my drink request.
“You know, I have to admit that I don’t know a thing about wines, so we’ll just assume that she knows what she is doing and I’ll go with the same thing she ordered!” I told the man, trying to be just a bit amusing as well as honest. I’ve never really cared for wines and so have never bothered to learn anything about them.
“Well no, that’s not a good idea at all!” he quite bluntly replied, and much to my surprise. “Tastes in wine are very personal. She might very well like something that you wont. Do you like warm wines or would you prefer something chilled? The red wines are generally heavier and the white wines are a bit sweeter.”
He said quite a bit more, but I’m afraid my memory sucks and I don’t recall the entire conversation word for word, but in the end I chose the chilled white wine and LOVED it! Like a good host, he kept checking back in to see if I had enjoyed it or not.
We spent the night chatting about just about everything from electronics to the Transgender lifestyle, and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening with them.
As a result of my time waiting in 103 degrees for the rental car shuttle bus, my wig was nasty, and so the last thing I did that night was to wash it, and hang it in front of the air conditioner to dry overnight.
The following morning I had to go and earn my paycheck, and so off I went to visit a customer that had initially refused to let us come fix his instrument in the field due to the experience he had had with that guy we just fired. In short order I had his instrument fixed and asked if he wanted me to look at his others. He hesitated a good 20 to 30 seconds and then told me that his boss had specifically told him not to let me touch any of their other machines because he didn’t want to risk a repeat of what had happened the last time, where four instruments had to be returned to our factory. I assured him that I understood his reluctance, and offered a compromise – I’d check their instruments through the software just to be sure that they appeared to be operating reasonably well but I wouldn’t touch or change anything with out talking to them first. He agreed, and off we went! The next instrument I checked had been damaged by them, and the threads intended to hold an external tank full of liquid nitrogen had been badly stripped. It doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but when this happens, it results in the entire weight of the five liter container resting on the infrared detector of the instrument, and knocking it out of alignment. In just a few moments, I had determined that this was indeed the case, and that the instruments Infrared detector required realignment. I didn’t have to work too hard to convince the customer that this really wasn’t an optional thing, and the instrument really had to be worked on, and so soon I was taking it apart. When I was all done with that instrument, and the customer was properly impressed that I had dramatically improved the performance of both instruments I’d worked on, they decided to set me loose on all of their others, and fortunately I found no other problems.
At about 2:30 PM I was free and headed out in boy mode to look for Goodwill stores to raid. I was going to be hanging out with Sophie
tonight, but that wasn’t for a few hours yet, so I had a little time to kill. The first Goodwill I found was a fairly nice one but I didn’t find anything I liked there. The next Goodwill I found really didn’t look all that impressive, but I was pleased to find a really neat wedding gown there in my size! I picked it up and found that it was very heavy and very well made, and so I started looking for the price tag, fully expecting to find it selling for around $80 as most wedding gowns at Goodwill do. Much to my shock considering the obvious quality of the gown, I found the price to be only $35! Still not believing my luck, I grabbed it and headed in to the dressing room to be sure that it fit. I found it to be a little shorter and tighter than I’d really like, but for $35 I wasn’t about to pass it up. Soon I was at the check out counter with my arms full of the white explosion of satin and lace fabric. The cashier, a woman in her late 50’s I’d guess, grinned from ear to ear as I covered her counter with the huge pile of fluff.
“Your going to make a beautiful bride!” she told me with her smile and eyes beaming.
“Well thanks! I thought it was awesome, and since y’all are just about giving it away, I wasn’t about to pass it up!” I told her, no doubt with the skin on my bald head turning red in a blush. She found the price tag and then looked up at me.
“Oh my God, you sure aren’t kidding about that! I wonder why they priced it so low?” she said, looking kind of puzzled.
“I dunno, but I’ll take it!” I replied with a grin.
“I don’t blame you.” She said, and then after a moment. “Now I don’t want to see any June brides! Besides, it’s July so your too late for that!”
“Ma’am, I’ve been married for over 23 years, so it’s WAY too late for that!” I told her with a laugh.
When I got back in to the car, I placed my daily call to my wife to tell her I love her, and to chat for a bit, and of course I mentioned my new found treasure.
“I just compounded my lack of closet space problem!” I laughed.
“Oh no! Matthew, what did you do?!” she said with a serious tone. For those of you that aren’t named Matthew, I’ll clue you in on a little secret. The name is ‘Matt’ right up until your in trouble. When you have done something wrong, the name suddenly gets elongated into ‘Matthew’, and if you really piss your wife off, the middle name gets thrown in there. Her calling me ‘Matthew’ implies that she is assuming I have done something wrong.
“I bought a wedding gown and it’s awesome! They were practically giving it away so I snatched it!” I bragged. Here is where things started going south. . .
“What is it with you and wedding gowns? That’s kind of weird and creepy . . .” she said.
“It is not creepy! What is creepy about it?” I said
“It’s just creepy!”
“No it’s not”
“Yes it is!”
“Come on, your OK with my being a cross dresser but you have a problem with my buying a beautiful wedding gown?” I asked, getting kind of flabbergasted.
“But it’s a wedding gown! That’s creepy!” she repeated
“Well what’s possibly more feminine and beautiful than a wedding gown in the modern world? What else is there these days that comes even close to a wedding gown for something beautiful?”
“Fine, but I still think it’s creepy.” She mumbled.
As near as I can tell, my wife is hung up about it’s intended purpose and possibly even the implications of the wedding night, while I’m just looking at the gown for it’s own sake. I couldn’t care less that it’s intended purpose was for a wedding with all of it’s implications, I just like the fact that it’s elaborate, gorgeous, and sophisticated. Still, the conversation did bring me down a notch or two.
As I was getting ready for my evening out with Sophie, I kept glancing at the clock and trying to decide if I had the time to try the gown on and get a picture or two of it. As much as I may have wanted to, I had no where near enough time for that, and so I had to ignore its continued pleas for attention.
I was going to wear a long orange skirt that I had liked the last time I’d worn it, but when I tried it on it just wasn’t flattering. I guess I’ve gained too much weight or something, but it just didn’t look right. I tired a second outfit and it also didn’t look right. Plan C was this rust colored skirt and brown flecked top. For those of you that worry about that sort of thing, I have not developed a fetish for leather, it’s just that leather skirts are very flattering. They hide lots of flaws like the lumps and bumps of hip pads or nylon waist lines, etc.
Having finally decided what to wear, I started to get my wig in to shape, and this is when I discovered that I had left my hairspray at home! This wouldn’t have been a huge problem, but I’d been forced to wash my wig last night, and it looked like hell! I also had my new wig, but it had been washed at home and then thrown in a box for the trip, so it looked terrible too. I tried and tried, but I couldn’t make it look at all decent, not even good enough for a short walk through a store to buy hairspray. No way around it, this was going to end up with me embarrassed. I was just stealing my nerves for walking through a store with hair that looked terrible when I recalled that there was a small shop in the hotel where they were selling incidentals so I gave the front desk a call. Much to my great relief, he confirmed that they did indeed have hairspray there, so now I just had to look like hell in front of one person, instead of walking past dozens in a store. I had just finished getting my new wig into shape and looking fairly decent when Sophie arrived. Since I’d had the little hairspray fiasco, I was running behind and didn’t have my act together, so poor Sophie had to wait around while I grabbed my jewelry, put my purse together, and ran around in circles accomplishing nothing at all . .
At long last I had it all together and asked her if we should take a few pics in the small and somewhat drab hotel room, or take them outside in the sunshine and trees. Considering it was 100 degrees outside, we chose to take a few indoors. Since the room was so small, we had to kind of improvise an area and a suitable place for my little tripod and camera to take them. When I got this idea for the tripod, Sophie started laughing and dragged out her own camera, saying that everyone needed a behind the scenes look at this one.
First we headed off to a hotel restaurant where Sophie had read that they were going to be doing karaoke tonight. As we started to pull away in the brand new Mustang the rental car company had so nicely upgraded me to, I looked over at her and grinned.
“You have GOT to hear this!” I said and then I floored the car. The car hesitated for just a moment and then roared like an angry dragon was under the hood, and we shot down the road at break neck speed! I was grinning like a lunatic until I realized that Sophie had had a lap full of odds and ends, and my little bit of fun had just tossed it all on to the floor. She managed to pick most of it up as I continued to drive on at a more sedate pace. After a few more minutes though, I just couldn’t stand it, and let the Mustang loose again, reveling in the angry roar from under the hood. Sophie looked at me and started to speak.
“Two things. First, remind me to pick up my cell phone. I think it’s on the floor by the door. Second, the cops here drive Chargers. I’m just saying . . . “
Well, now I had tossed poor Sophies things on the floor twice, and so I started to feel a little bit guilty, and started to drive like a more respectable and decent person.
Most of the way.
Most of the time . . .
I don’t think Sophie was terribly excited at the idea of karaoke, but she knew I loved it and was trying to be a good host and take care of her nerd of a friend. Unfortunately it turned out that their web page had been incorrect, and tonight the restaurant was doing trivia, and not karaoke. It was getting a little late in the evening, and we were both hungry, so we decided that we would stay for a while anyway and at least eat dinner there. We had arrived between trivia rounds and so had time to make a toast with a double shot of Jack Daniels and time to order our dinner before the game resumed.
If you get four questions right, you get a chit for a free drink, and if you win a round, you get a chit for a free snack. Like I said, my memory sucks and so I don’t recall the questions, but I sure recall Sophie’s expertise in answering them. The guy would just barely start asking the question when Sophie would shout out the answer. This happened time after time, and it would have been something like this:
“In 1876 this popular author. . . “ the MC would start to say.
“Mark Twain!” Sophie would pipe up, interrupting him before he even got the question out. After the fifth or sixth time in a row, one of the women at the bar shouted our way.
“That’s it. You're not welcome here anymore!”
After a few more questions very much like this, another one shouted our way.
“Next time I’m sitting at your table!” and everyone laughed.
Soon the game was over and we had two or three white chits for free drinks and a red one for a free snack stacked up in front of Sophie. Being the awesome person that she is, Sophie took the snack chit over to the group of women at the bar and offered it to them. The drink chits on the other hand, we made good use of for ourselves.
“So what was your masters degree in again?” I asked Sophie, just stunned that she had answered so many questions correctly and so quickly that I hadn’t even comprehended the question before she was responding to it.
“In education!” she said with a huge grin.
We played a little bit of pool while we discussed our options for the remainder of the night. I don’t recall who won the pool game, but we did finally decide that we would make the drive in to Philly and see what kind of trouble we could get in to there.
After a little bit of hunting and pecking, Sophie got us to the parking garage near the pub we were going to visit. There were two guys sitting in lawn chairs outside the garage, which I thought was kind of odd, but I drove past them anyway. I was about to head up the ramp and find a parking space when Sophie yelled.
“Stop – STOP!” I hit the brakes but still had no idea why we were stopping.
“What the hell?” I said to her.
“Umm, the sign says ‘stop’” she said, as though educating an idiot. She was pointing at a stop sign and the huge word “STOP” painted across the concrete, as if to imply ‘you DO know how to read right?’ As we were sitting there laughing, one of the lawn chair guys approaches the window. It turns out that you don’t park your own car there, you give them the keys and they
park it. Oops. . .
Soon Sophie had paid for the parking and we headed off to walk to the pub. It had been about a half hour drive from the restaurant and part way through our drive I’d discovered that the beer I had drank wanted back out, and it wanted out NOW! I guess I was pretty much doing the “I gotta potty” dance most of the way on our walk to the pub, and so Sophie kept offering to go in to assorted places with me.
“This looks like a good place! Let’s go in here, you can go to the bathroom, and then we’ll leave!”
“Are you crazy? I don’t know if these are friendly places, straight places, or what. I don’t want to die tonight so I’ll just wait for the place you know is friendly!”
We continued walking, and after a few blocks, I realize that Sophie doesn’t look at all confident about where we are going.
“Holy shit! You're lost aren’t you? You have no freaking idea how to get there do ya’?” I asked her with a laugh, just trying to yank her chain. Of course, I’m trying to yank her chain and be cute, but I really DO have to go the bathroom something fierce!
“No no, I know how to get there, but we must have gone past the street.” She reassured me, so we turned around and headed back the way we had come. It turns out that she was right, we had just gone a little too far, and just a couple of streets back she turns down an alley.
“You have GOT to be kidding?!” I asked her. “You're gonna get us killed walking down a dark alley late at night in Philly aren’t ya’?
“Hell no, we’re only going to where those people are standing down there.” She said and pointed down the alley. The only people I saw “standing down there” were a good three or four blocks away so I started to give Sophie hell again.
“No you idiot, not down there – the people standing right over there!” she said, pointing to a couple of folks standing only about 50 yards or so away on a stair case.
When we entered the Tavern on Camac, Sophie went one way, and I went the other – straight to the bathroom. Phew . . .
When I got out of the bathroom, Sophie had got us a couple of seats at the piano where a tiny and adorable woman was playing. She was playing a good variety of music and encouraging folks to sing along, and so it wasn’t long at all until I was having a great time.
At one point I looked over at Sophie and see her in an animated conversation that at times seems to be
getting a little loud. I start to pay attention, just to be sure that she isn’t getting into any trouble and almost fell off of my seat when I realize that she is arguing with the two men about Star Trek! They are going back and forth about good series and bad series, good episodes, and bad ones.
With a laugh, I go back to listening to the music and chatting with the young couple seated in front of me.
As the night goes on, the man is getting friendlier and friendlier, and we talked about where we were from, what we do for work, and where we had been. When the night drew to an end, he looked at Sophie and I.
“If you have any trouble at all, or need any help at all, you just give me call.” He told us. He was clearly sincere and also clearly drunk.
“I know you don’t have my number though. . . “ he said and then paused. “Do you want it? Do you want my number?”
“Awe, that is so sweet, but no thank you. We will be just fine and I’m headed home tomorrow morning anyway, but thank you so much!” I told him.
We got back to the parking garage with no problems, and while we stood there waiting for the attendants to bring my pretty pony around to us, a Taxi cab stops in the middle of the street and honks his horn – twice! We looked over to see what I assume is a young Indian man behind the wheel and we waved him on, making it clear that we didn’t need a ride. Having told him we didn’t need his services, we turned back away, and the guy honked at us yet again! When we looked back at him, the guy is frantically waving at Sophie, clearly inviting her to join him in his car. At this point our car arrived and we climbed inside, trying to look graceful and classy doing it, but failing miserably. Those Mustangs are low to the ground, and there is no way in hell to get in and out of it in a lady like fashion. As the doors close, Sophie looks over at me, and looking maybe just a little bit wistful.
“You know, I think that’s the first time anyone has ever hit on me!”
“No kidding?! Well congratulations!” I told her, and we both laughed as I drove up the ramp toward the street that was STILL being blocked by the love struck Taxi driver. Finally getting the message, the man did eventually move his car so we could leave.
By the time we got back to my hotel, Sophie got washed up and on her way home, and I got washed up and packed, it was about 3:30 AM. It’s funny, poor Sophie spent half the night apologizing that her plans for karaoke had gone wrong. She seemed mortified that the night had not gone entirely as she had planned, and yet I had an absolute ball. To spend an evening with friends, gathered around a grand piano with someone that knows how to play it, was nothing short of magic to me. It was an AWESOME night!
In about four hours the alarm went off, and I was absolutely hating the world. Up way too late, drinking way too much, and with way too little sleep, I headed to the airport in boy mode to meet with yet another friend from the Philly area – Jenny
! Jenny and I have traded countless emails and messages over the last couple of years, and I’ve found her to be a lot of fun to chat with. She has always struck me as being a reasonable person and with a great sense of humor. She also happens to be good friends with Missy and Anne and Sophie, and so I’ve wanted to meet her in person myself for some time now. Apparently the feeling was mutual, because she went to a great deal of effort to rearrange her work schedule to allow her to meet me at the airport for an hour or so before my flight. Considering that she is a pilot for one of the airlines, the airport was a fairly convenient place to meet!
As I made my way through security my head was pounding and I was utterly miserable as I gathered my things from the belt of the X-ray machine and found a bench to put my stuff back away. Soon I had my act back together, stood up, and entered the terminal proper, and even though we were both in boy mode, it only took a second to identify each other. There stood a pilot, in full dress uniform, and he was grinning like a kid in a candy store as he started walking toward me. I tried to smile back but I’d wager that it came out more like a pathetic and lopsided grimace instead. As we approached I had wanted to hug her, thinking of the many amusing messages we had traded over the last year or so, but this was her work place and I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, so we just shook hands as I suppose guys are supposed to do.
“You look so very official and professional!” I said with a grin. He’s a good looking guy, with a happy face, and eyes that sparkle like an 18 year olds. I’m not “in” to guys, but there was just something adorable as all hell about the impish face and eyes staring out from under the captains hat.
“You know I wore this damn thing just for you!” He said with a laugh. “I got all dressed up for meeting Kimberly, and you decide to show up in drab!”
“Ugggghhhh . . . I was out way too late with Sophie. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to get up early enough to fly pretty.” I told her.
“So how was your night doing karaoke with Sophie?” She asked with a smile. I started telling her about our evening, and with my head pounding, and my lack of sleep, it took me a moment to realize that she was trying to hand me something. I looked down and took the item clumsily, lifted it to examine it, and started to laugh so hard I thought my head was going to fall off. She had handed me a small travel pouch of Tylenol. It seems that she had suspected I might need it this morning!
We got breakfast and chatted about everything and nothing. She was every bit as personable, amusing, and likeable in person as she has always been in our electronic correspondences. I’d have to admit that I was ashamed and felt guilty that I was in such poor condition to meet her for the first time, especially considering the lengths she had gone to to make it possible.
In far too little time, we had to part ways when I had to board my flight. I very much look forward to a time when I can see her again, this time perhaps with my feeling a bit more like a human being and more like someone who deserves the sort of effort she went through to see me.