I always want what I can’t have.
I started furiously doing complicated algebraic equations in my head that sounded eerily like junior high math word problems:
- “If MOV’s plane is scheduled to depart from Los Angeles at 6 AM, what time can she have her last drink?” (6 PM.)
- Part II: “But … what if MOV’s last flight from Chicago the day before does not even get her to her hotel until 8 PM? Is she allowed to have one teensy drink just to calm her nerves after that mean passenger screamed at her about his lost luggage?” (No.)
- “What if MOV's flight is at night? What if she is going to fly at 5 PM and won't end up getting to her hotel until after 2 AM and everything is closed, what then?” (Too bad.)
- “What if MOV is on-call status for 24-hours, can she have any alcohol while on-call?” (No.)
- Bonus Question for Extra-Credit: “But that is for 24 hours! What if she is on-call for four days?! Is she allowed to have a drink then?” (Emphatically: NO!)
For the next few years, my days off were typically Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I would fly (and remain stone-cold sober) for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Monday night would roll around and I would accost The Boyfriend (this is before he got promoted to The Husband) at the front door the moment he got home from work:
“We’re going out right now! I hope the bars are open! I need a drink this instant or I'll never get to have one again! Turn around! Let’s go out for happy hour!”
“But, Sweetie,” he’d say, calmly loosening his navy blue linen sailboat tie (that I'd bought for him at that special boutique on my last flight to Monterrey), “I went out all weekend with my buddies from the gym—I don’t feel like drinking on a Monday.” He'd say the words drinking on a Monday oozing with contempt, like you'd say drinking at a funeral or drinking at a job interview.
The scene would replay itself on Tuesday, with only minor editing modifications to the wardrobe and script.
“No, Sweetie,” exaggerated eye-roll while slowly loosening silk shantung red paisley tie (bought in the fashion district of New York City), “NO.”
Wednesday would finally arrive, and with it a complete change in demeanor and reversal in roles.
“Great news, MOV!” he'd call out enthusiastically while tossing his yellow-striped tie made from real gold (Harrods, London) in the air upon arriving home, “We're meeting up with Mike and Lynn for drinks tonight!”
Angry glare while packing unattractive polyester uniform dress and itchy rayon United sweater into suitcase. “I am on-call starting at midnight. I had a swig of amaretto at noon. Thanks anyway.”
You can see how my job forced me to drink. A lot. Whenever legally possible.
In the middle of a three-day trip, I would get an unexpected phone call in my hotel room from the crew desk at 4 PM right as I was heading downstairs to catch the shuttle to the airport for my next flight.
“Great news, MOV!” the scheduler would chirp at me, “We cancelled your flight to San Diego and we’ve re-routed you. Now we don’t need you to fly until tomorrow at 10 AM. See you then!”
I would be all alone in my hotel room in Des Moines/ Boise/ Cleveland and wondering who I could have a drink or two with from 4 PM until 10 PM. No one. I would go out and see a movie instead. I saw a lot of movies.
After a decade of flight attendant-ing, I had finally earned the right (and the seniority) to get some say in my schedule. I knew which specific flights I’d be working in advance, and I even had weekends off from time to time. The Husband (post-marital promotion) and I could go out with with friends for pizza and beer like a normal couple on a Saturday night.
For our three-year wedding anniversary, I surprised The Husband with a romantic week-long dream vacation to Italy. We went wine-tasting, and the whole time I kept thinking, “I’m allowed to drink right now and United can’t tell me not to! Ha ha ha ha, no one can stop me from drinking!” The only person I had to consult about my alcohol itinerary was the restaurant’s helpful sommelier.
Before we flew back to California, The Husband and I decided to purchase a few bottles of wine we’d sampled in Orvieto so we could relive our fabulous trip whenever we wanted. I was imagining the ridiculously expensive Italian bottles smiling at me from a premier spot on our wine rack, and I was already thinking about hosting a small dinner party where they could be the guests of honor.
Even though I didn’t think I had room for anything else in my carry-on bag, I somehow managed to bring back a bad case of the flu. I was absurdly queasy, so I went to the doctor to get antibiotics almost immediately.
“Great news, MOV!” she grinned after doing several tests, “You’re pregnant!”
(“Misses Orvieto Vineyard”)