On a plane back home from Portland, OR, to Burbank, CA, I flopped into my spacious window seat. A few months earlier, through a humor-driven letter pleading with Alaska Airlines customer service to up my miles, I was, in fact, awarded thousands of miles and awarded VIP status. The latter allowing me to upgrade to first class, at no charge.
Sliding my computer into the ample space in front of me, and then rolling on cherry lip-gloss—I pulled out a book. Feeling a wee bit self-satisfied with my false entitlement in the big seats, I ordered red wine from the menu where everything costs nothing.
After opening my book, I looked up and saw the First Class flight attendant bumbling around all aflutter. Tightly embracing an electric guitar case, she shot a self-aware expression at the passenger approaching her. It was an expression of someone who couldn’t believe what was happening was happening, this was her one chance to reveal the perfect expression she’d rehearsed since she was 9, her skin opened its pores like big mouths to suck in every atom of the moment. Her eyes, now tearing, were locked on this person as she motioned broadly to the seat next to mine. To that person I could not yet see she said, “You’re, you’re, right here. I’ll put your guitar in a very special place.” The skin on her arms had now basically grafted to the case, her cheeks flushing in tandem with her frozen grin, exposing the ghost of braces.
“Right. Good. Thank you.” Then. There he was. Incredibly fine, 40-ish, tall, timeless, bespectacled, angular jaw—looking so, so, so, SO very familiar.
I did a quick Nancy Drew. Guitar = band. His age = popular in the ‘80s. His style = pop band. His melting my panties English accent = English. The bedazzled flight attendant = famous with ladies. Nothing.
He ordered red wine—we are so totally alike! His poster-ready face spoke to me. My fear of take-offs vanished.
Not knowing exactly who he was sort of worked to my advantage. Our conversation flowed like whiskey over ice. We talked about music, though I could never get him to spill anything specific enough to help me out. He asked about my writing! We talked about the books we were reading, and that we shared a soft spot for P.G. Wodehouse.
He excused his lyrical self to the lavatory.
Craning my neck to casually look at his area, I saw something, there on his seat; it was imprinted like a shroud…bent to the shape of his squarely muscled bottom. It was his boarding pass. I craned further, while remaining buckled in. The name on it gave me no help. It was so ordinary in contrast to his brilliant presence. Who. Is. He.
We read, sipped wine, and laughed.
Time slowed, my head angling downward, smile: coy. A dash of bangs covering my eye, gushing like the flight attendant—his hand came toward mine, his fingertips graced my right index knuckle—my skin jolted—“It was very enjoyable flying with you this evening.” I have no clue what I said back.
My roommate Krista picked me up outside the airport. Once we merged into traffic I said, “Hey, who’s John Taylor?” Her eyes widened, “From Duran Duran?!?”
Oh shit, of course. “I just sat next to him!!”
Krista slammed on the brakes and slugged my arm, hard. “I can’t fucking believe you sat next to John Taylor and didn’t know who he was, you dumbass!”
We went home. We got out the record player, the posters, and the records. We turned 13 for the rest of the night.
B. Frayn Masters is the producer and co-host of the storytelling series Back Fence PDX in Portland, OR. More of her writing can be found in the online entities of Hobart, McSweeney's, Spork, and Monkey Bicycle. She also writes trivia for the Twilight Saga movie App.