Executive Platinum Ch. 01byBenLong©
There are advantages to being a frequent flyer. Bypassing the madding crowds in security lines, being upgraded to "First Class", being the first to board, getting the best seats -- all are "advantages" that the infrequent flyer doesn't always understand. Frequent Flyers have their own reservations line, they can call from anywhere in the world and talk to a real person - immediately. In today's world, Frequent Flyers don't pay "extra" for checking baggage. One of the perks, little known to infrequent flyers, is that advanced status flyers are guaranteed a seat. Any flight, any time.
Of course those perks come with a price. Last minute tickets are "full fare," meaning that I'm paying for a hotel room and dinner and $800 voucher for the unfortunate soul that gets "bumped" to fly tomorrow morning. The college student that paid $160 three months ago thinks he's got a good deal (although it came out of the price of my ticket) but at least I'm going home at the last minute.
It was Friday noon when I found out there was no need for me to stay the entire two weeks, so suddenly I was in the market for a flight home. So much for the good news. For the bad, despite being an "elite" member, occasionally I don't get upgraded, and this turned out to be one of those times. Although they'd buy someone else off to get me on, that didn't necessarily mean that I got an upgrade to first class. Getting a ticket just two hours before the flight meant that I got seat 26 B instead. At least it was on the aisle.
I got checked in and to the gate; the first class and elite passengers were already loading. Walking right past the throngs and up to the gate I didn't even have time to survey the awaiting crowds. Normally I discretely observe the awaiting passengers, sizing them up, figuring what the upcoming flight will be like. And, of course, always looking to size up the most observed item in the universe -- the human female.
I waited patiently for the first class passengers to stow their carry-on's and make room for me to wander back to the peon department. There were only a couple of people yet in the main cabin, those few frequent fliers or "pre-boarders" that had been escorted on before the rest of the regular passengers. The young mother with two toddlers, the one gentleman with a cane still working his way half way back. Not too many today.
As I approached my seat I saw that I was the only one yet in the area. I stowed my bag and computer, took my seat, and began to observe others approaching, hoping that this would be one of those lucky days when a good looking and friendly woman would be joining me.
Several passengers approached and went on by or pulled up short, leaving my adjacent seat open. Well back toward the front, I spotted a woman approaching that met the standards for a great seat partner. Her clothes spoke of quality, discrete class without being ostentatious. The hair was brunette in an off the face cut that was quite becoming. The roots were not visible so I presumed the color to be real, or at least a close facsimile to the original. The owner appeared to be late 30's by my estimate; her blouse was cut just low enough that a single pearl gold necklace nestled nicely between the two discretely displayed globes of her breasts. An open front jacket set off the blouse, making her stylish, yet not overdressed. A pair of well-fitting designer jeans appeared between the seats as she got closer, looked good from the front, I wondered what the posterior would look like.
I watched her counting rows, glancing at her ticket, and had decided that I was going to get lucky before she actually got to our row. When she got to the seat, she leaned over to set her purse into the window seat even before she gave me a chance to move. Whether knowingly or not, when she bent over her single white pearl swung out free between her breasts in an irresistible attraction to my eyes. The pale flesh of the insides of her breasts contrasted with the golden brown of her neck, she was obviously showing more cleavage than she normally did. It was just a flash before she straightened up and reached overhead to put her small bag in the luggage rack. She stepped back and I stood to allow her get to the seat which gave me a chance to observe her derriere. Amazingly, it looked as good as the front.
"I've been saving you a seat," I offered as I began to retake my seat.
"Oh, thanks," she answered without hesitation, bantering right back at me, "I was so afraid maybe they'd given it away." I noticed her left hand had no ring, with no signs of having had one recently.
I laughed and extended my hand. "I'm Jim," I offered, "Always like to introduce myself to my new best friend -- at least for the next three hours."
"Gloria" she replied, politely shaking my hand, and then withdrawing not just her hand - but withdrawing from the conversation. She bent to her bag and took out a book, dismissing my attempts at friendliness. I sensed the armor going up, she wasn't quite as comfortable opening up as I was.
I pulled the airline magazine out of the seat back, slowly paging through looking for the Sudoku puzzle while really watching the oncoming passengers. The hectic families on vacations, the business travelers just wanting to get there and the stewardesses trying to help everyone get their gear stowed and into their seats. Gradually the plane filled with people of all shapes and sizes, filling the seats until we were down to just three seats toward the back where I was. I'd just glanced around, checking how many more seats were left when I first saw her.
Early twenties I estimate, maybe twenty-two, she was pure eye candy. Her form fitting top on her skinny body more than displayed her ample breasts, it accentuated them. At first I thought they must be silicone, but the subtle bounce as she moved decreed they were all natural. The woman beside me had cleavage showing, Miss Eye Candy had the Grand Canyon showing. The huge expanse of flesh on the tops of her breasts was such that it left little to the imagination. Watching her work her way through the cabin, I saw head after head discretely, and sometimes not so discretely, turn toward the aisle to follow her passage.
Her top extended halfway between the bottom of her breasts and her waist, the bare midriff exposed both more flesh and a small diamond belly stud. The shorts appeared to be nearly as form fitting as the top. Overall, she not only looked sexy, she oozed it. Her entire dress and demeanor shouted "Fuck Me."
I was wondering whether it was possible that she could have the seat across the aisle from me as she moved further and further back in the plane. She was carrying just a fairly small bag and a purse, and when she dropped the purse into the seats one row up, my visions of ogling this beauty with my peripheral vision for three hours disappeared. She looked into the bin above her seat, but as there was no room she stepped back to the bin across the aisle from me where, with just a little rearranging, there would be room for her simple bag. She reached up, stretching to move the bags overhead, her shorts encumbered bottom just inches from my face. I looked up; the lines of her thong under the flesh hugging shorts becoming visible as she moved first the one bag and then slid hers up next to it. I discretely looked away, and realized that my seat partner had been watching her also -- and me. She smiled as she turned away; I knew she'd been watching me watching Miss Eye Candy as much as anything.
As Miss Eye Candy slid into the middle seat, the last two passengers followed down the aisle. A middle aged matronly woman, followed by a college aged young man. "Frat boy" I thought, unconsciously rating and summarizing and dismissing him for his sophomoric ways even before I'd met him. The matron sidled down the aisle, filling it from one side to the other, the total opposite of the sexpot that had preceded her. She finally stopped beside me, turning to wedge herself into the seat opposite with a harrumph. I wondered if she'd ever in her life had anywhere close to the looks of the Eye Candy that had just taken the seat ahead. Probably not.
I found the Sudoku just as Frat Boy settled into the seat next to Eye Candy. I realized that's how I was now thinking of her, not as a person, just Eye Candy. The conversations around me dulled into a mild roar, occasional words and snippets of conversations coming through. I began ignoring them, paying attention to the puzzle, but for some reason Frat Boys voice came through. Whether I was wishing it was me, whether it was just that he was as obnoxious as I'd imagined, I don't know - but every word he said stood out from the background conversations.
"You look familiar, do I know you?"
She answered something to the negative, but that was just the start. He continued, and the story unfolded. She went to the U of T, why golly -- so did he, he must have seen her around campus. He lived in such and such a neighborhood -- she just happened to live just a short distance away. He was sure that he'd seen her before, she tried to give him the brush off.
I smiled to myself. "Mating Ritual of the American Horndog" I thought to myself.
"Maybe we can get together sometime for a beer when we get back?" he offered, looking for a sign of progress. Her "I don't know..." answer indicating that he wasn't getting anywhere.
It would be fun to have a camera and mike to record these types of conversations; the come on, the intro, the rebuff -- all the types of small talk beginnings we've all had over the years. I was only half-heartedly listening when he said, "So are you from San Diego?"
"Oh no, I'm just going for the weekend to visit my boyfriend. He's a Marine".
Beside me, almost unheard, my seatmate gave a quiet, descending whistle, and made an explosion sound under her breath -- the unmistakable sound of a bomb descending and exploding. "Down in flames," she whispered almost to herself.
Without thinking I quietly laughed, letting her know I'd heard, and turned to her. "Ten to one says he's got her phone number before we get to San Diego."
"No way. She's not interested." She retorted, a smile crossing her face. Just like that the standoffishness disappeared.
"Oh yes she is," I whispered, keeping it down so just the two of us could hear each other. "It's all part of the ritual. Mark my words, they'll be exchanging numbers before we get there." Now that I had the opening I continued. "It's a little hobby of mine, observing people, assessing people; figuring what they are and what they do. I give them nicknames in my mind, and surprisingly, it's amazing how many times when I talk with them the name fits."
"So why do you think he'll get her number?"
She laughed. "Is that what you named him?" I nodded in assent. She nodded her head toward them, "and what name did you have for her?"
"Eye Candy." "Fitting." She said, again nodding her head. "Do you suppose those shorts are painted on?"
"Not quite," I answered, "she's got a thong on underneath."
Gloria giggled. "You really don't miss much, do you?"
"Did you miss it?"
She smiled. "No."
"So why do you think he's going to get her number?" "Just watch. Frat Boy there, he's probably going home; he looks like a surfer type, he's got the California accent, but he thinks more with the head between his legs than the one between his ears. Definitely on the prowl. And Eye Candy, you can't tell me that she doesn't ooze sex even to you? She's on the prowl too. Mark my words, we've got three hours and he'll be leaving with her number."
"We'll see" she answered, "we'll see." Once the ice had broken, we conversed easily for quite some time. She asked about me, I asked about her. I told her about my work, how I was going home for the holiday weekend and possibly a few more days until work got caught up. I told her how I was widowed, how I'd been married for 20 some years. I pulled no punches, told no lies.
"What about you?" I questioned, "You're not from San Diego?"
"Why do you say that?"
"Accent." I answered. "I'm guessing Texas born and bred? Just a touch of Southern and a "y'all" that you said a while ago."
"Guilty as charged." She laughed.
"So what's bringing you to San Diego?" I asked. "First time?"
She nodded. "I'm going to visit a friend." There was something about the way she said it, a certain uneasiness that I picked up on.
"Ah" I opined, "a walk on the wild side?"
She looked at me, contemplating her answer, "Maybe".
It took nothing more than just asking about her however, and soon she was talking to me like an old friend, confiding more than I think she intended. I've found this is not all that unusual on a plane flight, people often just want to talk. Show them some interest and they'll tell you all about themselves.
I heard about the one love of her life, her daughter. Having gotten pregnant as a Senior in High School, she'd married her sweetheart, and lived happily ever after right up until she found out he was having an affair with a secretary of one of his clients. She'd been divorced for four years now, literally living alone since her daughter was now away in college.
She'd tried dating a few times, never met anyone that had struck her fancy until "Ned," the guy that she'd met on the internet. She told me everything that he liked to do, how it was everything she liked to do. She told me how he was an executive with a company in San Diego and how he had a house in La Jolla and on and on and on. Now she was flying out to meet him, spend the weekend and get to know someone that she'd talked with on the internet and on the phone. The flirtatious blouse she was wearing suddenly made sense.
I listened to her talk, found out all about the hurt left over after 16 years of marriage and all about how she'd met this guy, and how wonderful he was. I quietly asked questions, trying to get real answers, not what she thought the answers were. By the time I knew as much about Ned as she knew about Ned -- I was pretty sure Ned was a fraud. Not one single thing could she tell me about Ned that he hadn't told her in response to something that she'd said. Ned was one of those that if Gloria had said "I love to go for long walks on the moon," he would have said, "God that's so much fun -- I haven't done that in years."
I'd just listened, hadn't offered what I thought, but it turned out Gloria had the same thought. "The only thing I hope is that he is what he says he is."
I didn't respond immediately, finally said "And if he isn't? If you don't hit it off? Have you got a Plan B?"
"Not really, I'm sure we'll get along, but I figured if for some reason we don't hit it off, I'll get a hotel room, spend the weekend and go on home."
"Oh?" I questioned, inwardly shaking my head at her naiveté. "Have you checked, are there any rooms available?"
"Why wouldn't there be rooms available?" she questioned. I told her how San Diego had a large tourist trade and many weekends every year there just weren't any rooms to be had, especially holiday weekends like this. Every last hotel had 100% occupancy and there was nothing to be had at any price. I pulled out my wallet, fished out a business card and handed it to her.
"Here's plan C. If Ned doesn't work out, and you can't find anything else -- give me a call. I've got a house with extra rooms, it's better than sleeping in a rental car."
"Oh, don't worry about it. I'll be fine." I held the card, and she finally took it.
"Just in case, if everything else falls apart, at least you know my name."
We'd landed and were taxiing to the terminal when Gloria elbowed me and nodded toward Frat Boy and Eye Candy. "Ok, here's my number" Eye Candy said as she was handing a slip of paper to Frat Boy, "Call me Thursday, I'll be going home Wednesday."
I grinned at Gloria, wet a finger and pantomimed "chalking it up."