damn memories

your first kiss…

i’ll wait.  Go ahead and follow that cranial hyperlink to wherever it takes you.  There’s so much power in those memories.  Good or bad, a stolen moment or the first in a series of escalating kisses, these moments mark us forever.

Annie started it with her meme.  There were some wonderful comments there.  But it wasn’t until i followed rob’s link to uncle keith’s tale of his first kiss that i let myself fall completely into this particular abyss. 

i was 14.  A freshman in high school.  If i had to tag myself with the standard adolescent categories, they would be “overweight, homely, class clown, anarchistic intelligentsia, band fag”*.  To celebrate the end of a successful marching band season** our director organized a dance – and brought in his jazz musician friends as the entertainment.

My best friend, J, was the most beautiful man/boy i’d ever seen.  We were inseparable that year – even  having parental approved “sleep overs”.  I’d stay at his house in the guest bedroom – but mostly we sat up talking all night long, planning our futures, knowing we’d change the world and live rich, full lives of international intrigue and adventure. 

Every girl in 9th grade had a crush on him – older girls, too.  His date for the homecoming dance was a smokin’ hot 12th grade girl – with her own car!  An incredibly gifted, yet mostly undisciplined pianist, we’d spend hours together – him at the piano, me with guitar – working on “our act”.  He was the first person to ever hear me sing… and the first person to ever tell me that i had a good voice, and should sing more often***.

Needless to say, i was madly and hopelessly in love with him.

The night of the “Band Dance”, we came up with enough cash between us to pay his brother to buy us a bottle of Jack Daniels finest bourbon.  We drank it in the parking lot before we went inside.  Fortunately, his brother had siphoned off at least half and watered it down or we’d have been hospitalized. 

A good buzz, with my best friend – the night was off to a magical start!  i remember fighting hope – like a bad case of indigestion – that maybe, just maybe,  the friendship could be more…  As the band played the first slow song, the older girls descended upon us like a harem greeting their prodigal sheik.  He was whisked off by someone much more desirable.  i went out for a smoke.  This pattern repeated with each slow song.  i got used to it. 

The band played the George Benson version of “This Masquerade”.  As i headed for the exit, J grabbed my arm and dragged me onto the dance floor.  Everyone seemed to be watching.  i was mortified.  But i let myself go… fell into his arms… and let myself believe, just for one song, that there was a chance…

He kissed me.  It was the most natural thing in the world.  And after he kissed me, he held me tighter, and we kept dancing.  The song ended, and he didn’t let go.  We didn’t move until the next song started, and then it was awkward and horrible and i couldn’t get out of there fast enough and my face was burning and i needed to be sick and get another smoke so i did a Cinderella number and ran off the dance floor to the parking lot.

The night ended.  11:00 pm.  Parents started to arrive to pick up their children, we said goodnight as we always did, and everyone scattered to the winds.  The next Monday when i first saw him in French class, he smiled at me – perhaps a little more warmly – and then it was back to normal.  As if it never happened.

That day, there was much gossip from the Band Dance.  While i was in the parking lot, chain smoking cigarettes in the throes of 14 year old lovelorn fat chick angst, J was in a closet, swapping spit with the French teacher – an older, hotter 24 year old woman!  This was much juicier gossip than him being seen on the dance floor kissing daisyfae, so the post-event public humiliation was mercifully lost in the noise.

It was about a year later that he told me he was gay.  In hindsight?  Well, d’uh…

There’s much more to this story – but it ended in 1986, when at the age of 25 J was killed in a drug-related accident, falling 60 feet from a railway bridge onto concrete below.  He’s buried within a few hundred yards of my Father.  When i go to the cemetery, i typically make two stops – one to converse with Dad.  One to yell at J for being a dumbass and thinking he could fly.


* Yeah.  Some things never change… And you remember *that* kid from your high school.  Every school has one…

** i don’t think we won any awards, but there were no hospitalizations, no arrests, no pregnancies and inter-school vandalism was kept to a bare minimum.

*** It was another 3 years before i was brave enough to sing solo in front of an audience.  He was playing piano.

From the “It Could Be Worse” Files

On a flight out of Denver this week, i was once again listening to the air traffic control (ATC) radio chatter.  And despite some re-routing, extra driving and a much-later-than-planned arrival at my destination due to weather, i was glad not to be flying on a different flight traveling in the same air space.

Pilot: Requesting permission to divert into Denver.

ATC: Granted.  Do you need assistance with routing?

Pilot: I could use the waypoints on the standard approach from current position.

The ATC staffer provided guidance, and then the chatter returned to other flights going in, out and through the Denver air space.  A few moments later, the same pilot called in again, reporting location and requesting instructions.

ATC: Can you provide any additional information on the reason for diversion?

Pilot: Ahhh, we’ve got problems with the lavatories on board.  None of ’em are working.  We really need to land… get these things pumped out.


Finally, homeward bound, i am just one more airport away from where my car is parked, although there’s a 90 minute drive from there to the homestead – i have had nothing but diversions, ATC delays due to weather and the like on a two day business trip. 

i’m adept at getting gate agents to turn me over to other airlines, so it seems i will get home tonight, just around midnight instead of 10:00 pm as originally planned…  but to get this, i had to snag a seat in the back of a really old MD88.



Seat 37A is technically a window seat, although the only thing visible is a giant motherfucking turbine engine.  Fortunately, it didn’t decide to disintegrate along the way, spewing pieces of propeller, as it was literally about 8″ from  my left ear… 

Noting also the proximity to the lavatories, i was once again reminded of the diverted flight into Denver, and smiled, knowing that it really could have been much worse…

Fear of flying

I am not a white knuckle flier – in fact, i enjoy it!  Whether it’s in a small plane, buzzing corn mazes in the autumn or in a jet-powered thermos tube traveling at ridiculous speeds from 6 miles up, i always have a “Hey, wow!  I’m flying!” moment along the way.

Not being a pilot (yet), i don’t know intricacies of modern flight, but i know enough not to worry.  Whether it’s my awareness of non-destructive evaluation, flight-line maintenance, “design for redundancy” or a basic understanding of air traffic control procedures, i am generally not nervous on an airplane.  It’s a chance to read, listen to tunes and nap while defying gravity.

Logically, i know statistically that my chances of dying in a plane crash are much lower than dying in the car on the way to the airport.

Despite this knowledge, i have one pre-flight ritual that i simply can’t shake.  i’ve been doing this for over a decade.  Whenever i’m headed to an airport i make sure that my bra and panties match exactly.  Not just ‘blue and blue’, or ‘leather and leather’ but the exact make, model and color from the manufacturer.

If my parts need reassembly after an air disaster, it might be helpful if Top A matches Bottom B…




And with that, i’m off on another business trip… Surf’s up!

In an airport…

Overheard while waiting at the gate in O’Hare Airport:

Gate Agent:  Paging passenger E. Guy and passenger D. Chowder to the podium.  Passengers Guy, Chowder, Gate B-22.

Bingo!  Talk about flying the friendly skies…. Gate agents demanding guy chowder?!?!?


Travel Post Script:  My amusement at the gate at O’Hare was short-lived.  Returning home to sub-zero temperatures and 4″ of snow on my car – which covered about 1/8″ of solid ice – made for a happy landing.  First bit of fun was simply prying my car door open.  And remembering that i’d cleverly left my gloves and hat inside the car.  It took a full half hour to excavate the shitmobile.  My hands didn’t quite thaw out until i was almost home….  

Wouldn’t have felt quite so bad if i hadn’t been lounging poolside in sunny california, drinking fruity cocktails under the palm trees just the day before.  (sigh)

O’Hare on a sunny day…*



A travel day… after being out too late last night, i was up at dawn’s butt crack, throwing (hopefully) clean underwear in a suitcase, and hauling myself to the airport for an early flight to the west coast.  Despite fog/rain/wind at O’Hare in Chicago, i arrived at my destination on time with no major problems.

It’s fun to listen to the air traffic control radio on planes when that option is offered.  Today?  Pretty wild – with nasty weather at O’Hare the chatter was continuous.  As we made our approach, i heard our flight number called as the captain was told to ‘break pattern, pull up to 11000 feet and contact ATC tower for go around instructions”.  Followed by near instantaneous throttle and climb. 

Cool…  always nice to know someone is up there flying the plane!  It was a ‘spacing distance’ issue, and we had an uneventful landing after a 15 minute detour.  Well, ‘uneventful’ unless you were the guy a few rows ahead of me who got a second look at his breakfast due to turbulence.  or the guy next to him…

Palm Springs for three days?  There are worse things about my job.  Off to get hammered with my drinkin’ and whorin’ buddies network with professional colleagues.


* No, not “O’Hare the airport”, but the real O’Hare:   Lt. Cdr. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, First US Navy Ace, Medal of Honor Recipient, Wildcat Fighter Pilot and First Hellcat Night Fighter…. Apparently you’ve got to do a lot of good flying to get such a big airport named after you…