Missed Opportunities
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I’m on a plane. (I’ve said my Hail Mary’s).

A little Spring Break getaway for the Momma.

The Hubby and his other brother/business partner are headed to one part of California for some business, and the other brother’s wife-Debbie, and I are meeting up with them in San Francisco tomorrow night.

We ladies have officially named our getaway, "Momma's Spring Break," right here in my favorite city.

As The Hubby finds himself drowning in estrogen on a daily basis, Debbie finds herself drenched in testosterone. Other Brother is also a football coach. Their two boys-football players.

Our house is about shoes, makeup, shoes, talking about feelings, and shoes. Theirs is all about the football.

She knows a lot about football.

She knows enough to know that the hunk of a man who lined up for C seating on our Southwest flight is Brian Griese, quarterback of our fair city’s football team.

We kept our eye on him until we boarded the plane. We were lucky enough to be A-listers.

We got on the plane and did what everyone does when they stake out a row. We plopped our purses down on the middle seat in the hope that everyone else boarding the plane after us, would not ask.
It worked for the first leg of our flight.

But then, as we sat there, hogging up our row, that gorgeous hunky football player was upon us and before we could snatch our purses off the seat and offer up our vacancy, he passed us by.

We turned in our seats, craning our necks, as we wistfully watched him pass. When we realized the plane was almost stocked to the brim and he was left searching for a seat, we bore our eyes into his well-muscled back, trying to catch his eye.

He didn’t notice.

Or maybe he did. Maybe we scared him off with our come-hither smiles.

When he wouldn’t look our way, we sighed and turned back around, just as a very sweet-looking, little old lady stood before us. We offered her up our available seat and she readily took it.

Just as we did, Debbie says, “He’s coming back!!!”

And sure enough, as our heads whipped around, there he was. Right there, that gorgeous, hunky quarterback, NOW looking our way.
We kept our eyes glued on him as he strolled back up the aisle, I had this terrible, irresistible desire to knock the little old lady out of her seat and yell, “Right here, Brian!”

But, I’d like to keep my track record of never being arrested by Federal Air Marshals.

He found a seat, eventually and Debbie and I decided we really did do the right thing.

Still, it sure would have been mighty fun.

I told Debbie I’d have to switch seats with her and just nod mutely at the conversation, since I know nothing about football. Although…he could teach me.

We wistfully discussed the fact that maybe we could have convinced him to keep us company in San Fran until our hubbies arrive tomorrow night.

Insert a big sigh.

I told Debbie this would have definitely beat my Ralph Nader story on famous people I’ve met on a plane.

True Story: It was exactly one month after 9/11. I was more than my usual terrified to be up off the ground in a plane.

Southwest still had the old planes, the ones that had facing rows on the emergency exit. Oftentimes, those opposing rows were not worth the extra legroom when a weirdo plopped down across from you on a cross-country trip. And weirdoes are a fact of life in my world.

I am a weirdo magnet.

We were well versed in opposing-row-emergency-exit strategy. I was busy,  keeping my head down, avoiding all eye contact with our belongings stretched across the opposing seats, when a deep voice asked, “Are these seats taken?”

I looked up to see what had to have been the tallest man on the flight, the tallest man on almost any flight. Great, I realized, now I’d be knocking knees for eight hours along with having to carry on forced conversation. It’s a lot easier to pretend you don’t see your seatmates when they’re along side of you, instead of staring you in the face.

As soon as he sat down, I recognized him. I looked down at the book I’d been pretending to read. There was no way I could go eight hours without saying something. I looked up at him again and said, “It gives me great confidence, that you’re flying on this plane.”

Hubby looked at me like he always does right when I’m about to make a fool out of myself, which is often.

Ralph smiled generously and reassured me, that he, Mr. Consumer Activist, only flies Southwest. I breathed a sigh of relief.

I trust this man. 

He’s the one who blew the whistles on Pintos, telling the world that they caught on fire when rear-ended. 

The Pinto was my first car. I took this as a sign from above that everything would be all right. 

God had sent me Mr. Safety himself to assure me that I would not go down on that day.

I introduced him to Hubby and for the next eight hours we talked and laughed and had a few drinks together. He spoke of the Washington side of 9/11, his office being right next door to the Pentagon. He told us of the rip-roaring explosion of the crash, a sound he said that would never leave him.

We Americans talked about it constantly to each other during those days and weeks and months afterward, still needing to purge our sadness and our fright and our grief, collectively.

The only snafu in our plane friendship came when I asked him with a wicked glint in my eye after a few cocktails, his thoughts on the recent election. He, of course, was in the eye of the hurricane that was the Bush/Gore Florida voting debacle.

He paused and then said with his somber, piercing stare, “You know, I’ve really, really enjoyed my conversations with you today and I’d like to keep it that way. I find I can’t discuss that really with anybody nowadays.”

I was sad for Ralph, then, that he carried so much of the anger and frustration of that mess on his shoulders.

But, then we ordered another glass of wine and the sadness melted away.

It was a wonderful way to while away a flight with such an intelligent, lovely man.

But, still, a hot quarterback. 

Sorry, give me the bulging biceps nudging up against my armrest any day over a little loftiness.

And the old lady?

Turns out she’s not so sweet. She’s hogging the armrest like she owns it and she’s got one leg crossed up on her other thigh, resting up against my leg, sprawling out like I’m her personal ottoman, all knobby knees, elbows and thighs.

What I would give for it to be Brian’s thigh. What I would give.

It’s OK. We’ve got a layover in Colorado. We’re keeping our eye on our man. If he stays put, we’re his new neighbors.

One can only hope for such things.

SAD POSTSCRIPT: Brian got off in Colorado. Bright side of things: We snagged an exit row with so much room, Debbie says she’s not leaving, as she stretches out her model, long legs.

The gentleman next to me has a Kindle, something I’m veeeerrrry interested in. I’d never seen one before and he was kind enough to show me all the bells and whistles. I’m thinking, one’s going to be coming my way very shortly.

We’ve also befriended the flight attendant, a lovely woman who seems to like us a lot. She’s given us a free cocktail! Whoop Tee Doo! Let Ladies Spring Break Begin! Bad news is she thought I said tomato juice and vodka instead of cranberry juice and vodka. I guess I could see how those two could get mixed up? Sadly, Ladies Spring Break will not be starting just yet. Bloody Mary Mix with 48% of your daily sodium intake is not very delectable, no matter how much vodka you add.

Today’s Gotta Have Download: Why, of course! Give me some old time, “Lights” by Journey. Oh, how glad I am to be back in my city by the bay. Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.

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