She was sitting in my window seat.
I mean really sitting. Shoes off, painted toenails tucked sideways under her bum, reading a magazine.
She looked real comfortable; the slender index finger on her right hand twirling around an errant lock of professionally bleached bangs before tucking it back behind a delicate ear.
She was beautiful but I was tired. I can only sleep on an airplane if I get a window seat, and she had parked her pretty little ass in mine.
When I pointed this out politely but firmly, she blinked several times at me — her eyes round and blue, her mascara job immaculate — and informed me that it was okay with her if I just took her aisle seat, since she was already all settled in, as was the nice lady next to her.
She was cute, and I almost fell for it.
I was recently single, freshly tattooed, and on my way to New York City.
She had a very fetching way of raising just one eyebrow in a manicured question mark, and I have always been vulnerable to the persuasive skills of certain kinds of ladies.
She was smart enough to know an easy mark with a window seat when she saw one, and I came this close to trading a chance to nap for the opportunity to do the gentlemanly thing in front of a hot stranger and her 50-something seatmate.
I must be getting old, because after quickly weighing my options, I chose the nap.
“Shouldn’t we at least be in our assigned seats while the plane is taking off?” I insisted kind of lamely. “You know, in case we crash, so they can find our DNA or whatever?”
The nice lady in the middle seat nodded in silent agreement, yes, indeed we should be in our proper seats for DNA identification purposes, then tucked her paperback into the seat pocket and hauled her pant-suited bum out into the aisle beside me.
Hot girl let out a disappointed sigh and leaned forward to retrieve her shoes out from under the seat in front of her. That is when her designer T-shirt slid up to reveal a long stretch of her naked back, lean and heavily tattooed with leopard spots.
Just give her your goddamn window seat, for the love of Christ, she’s a stone cold fox, whispered the little red devil that always wants to get laid from his perch just behind my left ear.
You need to get some bed rest so you can be sharp for your performance tonight, the librarian angel reminded me from my other shoulder. You should be thinking of your immune system, not hot strangers with full back tattoos. These long flights, the recycled air. You just don’t handle the jet lag like you used to. Take a nap. It’s for the best.
I folded up my leather jacket for a pillow and stuffed it into the drafty crack next to the plexiglass window and closed my eyes right away, hoping to nod off immediately.
But I’ve always been prone to eavesdropping.
Nice lady beside me was asking hot girl a lot of questions, and her answers were keeping me awake.
No, she wasn’t married, and yes, she was going to New York on business too, and she had just moved to San Francisco, but she still spent a lot of time in New York for work. She was a hairdresser, for a high-end salon, but no, she wasn’t staying at a hotel, she was crashing at her ex-girlfriend’s house, and yes, she meant girlfriend, not friend who was a girl.
I sat up straight and opened my eyes.
Nice lady smacked my arm gently like nice ladies are allowed to do when teasing younger folks these days.
“Oh, now he’s awake. You heard that part, didn’t you? Men. I read in Cosmo that two girls together is one of their all-time top fantasies. I asked my husband about it, but he pled the fifth on that one. How about you, sir?”
Nice lady laughed and then coughed and dug around in her bag, hauled out a roll of breath mints, offered one to each of us.
Hot girl smirked and raised another eyebrow, awaiting my answer.
I felt the blood rush into my cheeks. “Two girls together? Well…I’m not going to say I don’t like the thought of it.”
All three of us laughed then — for three different reasons.
We continued this sort of a three-legged dog of a conversation all the way from Chicago to La Guardia.
The lesbian hairdresser’s name was actually Darby, and Denise sold X-ray software to dental technicians. All three of us spent a lot of time on the road.
When I told them I was a writer, Denise said she’d never heard of me, but that she would be sure to look me up on the Google when she got home.
While we were waiting for our bags, Darby asked me if I wanted to hop into a cab into Manhattan with her, since her company was paying for it.
When the taxi pulled up in front of my hotel, I took a deep breath, and then I took a chance.
“Want to come show me your city from the window of my hotel room?”
Darby sat back in her seat and licked the lipsticked edges of a smile.
“How do you even know I’m your kind of a girl?”
“I saw your luggage, remember? Two gigantic pink suitcases, plus carry-on? For one long weekend? I can tell that you’re my kind of girl.”
She shook her head. “I’m almost late for dinner with the ex.”
“Call her and tell her your plane was delayed. Beauty of cell phones.”
She slipped me her business card, told me to call her in the morning.
“Poor Denise. Wait till she Google searches you tonight. Remember what she said when her husband picked her up? ‘A lesbian and a famous writer, Dennis. She’s a hairdresser to the stars and he’s on a book tour.
‘You just never know who you’re going to meet on the airplane these days.'”