part one of "the grindr monologues"
Beads of sweat dripped down my forehead as the beverage cart inched closer to me on a Westjet flight last May enroute from Vancouver to Ottawa. In the small space before me, my knees bounced furiously while my right hand clutched tight around a prepaid credit card. “This better work,” I told myself, “Meryl Streep it has to.”
With ninja-like focus, I watched as the four wheels of the cart locked two rows ahead of me. I had been fearing this exact moment for approximately thirty-six hours and twenty-two minutes. After compromising my VISA in a virtual threesome on Grindr, I had to cancel my credit card two days prior to the flight. Usually this would not be such a major problem, except for the one simple fact that I do not fly without a plastic cup of red wine. And last time I checked, major airlines do not accept debit.
From my aisle seat, I sussed out the Flight Attendant, who was going to be the only person to come between me and a mini-bottle of red wine. The good news was that he was gay and male. The bad news was that I had no idea whether or not he was a total bitch. If my prepaid plan did not work, then there was no question I was going to need this homosexual on my side if I ever stood a chance of surviving the flight.
The clock was ticking as the airplane climbed to 36,000 feet. By my calculations, I had approximately three point eight minutes to deduce whether or not my gay Flight Attendant was a queen or princess.
Like Sherlock, I paid close attention to every detail before me. First off, I noted the section of the plane he was attending. Typically, the snobbiest gays with the highest service standards can be found in first class, or in this case, “Westjet Plus.” Because this man was placed in steerage with me, the odds were in my favour that his service record was far from immaculate.
Second, I completed a visual scan of his physical appearance. You can tell everything you need to know about a man by how he wears his uniform. Did he spend his layover resting up for the next flight or physically laid over? Meryl Streep must have been watching over me because this guy was a hot mess. His white collar-shirt was untucked and spilling out from underneath his company-issued navy blue sweater. Rather than looking healthy and vibrant, his blonde highlights looked pale and sickly.
Letting out a gigantic sigh of relief, I felt my body relax into the chair. There was no way this man was going to be a threat. He might even forget to charge me. Aimlessly playing with the TV screen in front of me, my knees came to a full stop as the cart wheeled up beside me.
“For you miss,” he prompted the lady to my left in the window seat. His voice was lower than I expected and certainly not as poofy as I wanted it to be.
“Red wine please.”
Like a gentleman, I assisted him with the transaction. I helped to pass over her credit card and then returned it with a white cocktail napkin and a mini-bottle of red wine.
“And for you?” he motioned to the lady in the middle seat.
"Gin and tonic.”
“I am out of limes at the moment, is that acceptable to you?”
Is that acceptable to you? I repeated to myself, question marks popping up over my head. Something did not feel right. He did not look first class but he certainly sounded like it. My knees began to tremble.
“That is fine,” said the lady in return. I leaned back in my seat until the transaction was complete.
Just when my turn had come, he excused himself for a moment to tuck in his shirt.
No, no, no no no no no no no! I screamed internally. I had absolutely no back-up plan if this card didn’t work.
“I’m sorry about that,” he said, making his final adjustment. “I just noticed it had come undone. And for you sir? Would you like something to drink?”
“My good man,” I replied, buying time with extra words. “I will take 250 millilitres of your finest in-flight wine please and thank you kindly. But first, if you don’t mind, may I beg you a question?”
I motioned for him to lean in before discreetly revealing the contents of my right hand. I was too embarrassed to let anyone else know what was going on.
Lowering my voice into a whisper, I confided to him, “as you see, in a tragic set of circumstances, my VISA was compromised less than forty-eight hours ago. I was wondering if you –”
“We do not accept prepaid credit cards,” he cut me off, loud enough for everyone in the back of the plane to hear. “Can I interest you in a complimentary juice or pop? Tea or coffee perhaps?”
My heart stopped in my chest. I was twenty-nine years old and about to go in to cardiac arrest. With four hours and two time zones left on the flight, there was no way I was going to make it on an orange juice and a pack of pretzels.
“Would you mind trying it just once?” I asked, my tail between my legs.
“Sir I’m not going to repeat myself. The card will not work, now would you like a pop?”
The worst part about this entire situation was that it was karmic retribution. I would never admit this to be the case on a conscious level; but somewhere deep down, strapped underneath the seatbelt of my unconsciousness I knew it to be true. Previous to this point, all winter long at the restaurant I scoffed whenever a guest presented me with a prepaid card. Now I was the one being scoffed at.
“No," I answered slowly using my man voice, "I would not like a pop.” .
My eye lids dropped into squint formation while my teeth sealed the trap to my mouth shut. I feared I was about to make a scene as the wild west of Calgary passed underneath us. Hearing the groans churn out from the thirsty guests on the other side of the cart, I knew I did not have much time left.
By my estimates, I had exactly three options available to me. One, I could try to seduce him into exchanging red wine for post-flight sex. Two, I could order a coffee and then spill it on him and rob the cart while he tried to cool himself down. Three, I could appeal to the one experience that every gay man has in common.
“Look buddy,” I placed my hand on his arm pleadingly, “I swore I would never tell anyone this but I compromised my credit card on Grindr the other night with a guy who looked like Zachary Quinto but turned out to be a scam artist. Please, I beg you, in the name of Radiohead don't leave me high ... don't leave me dry.”
I waited for his reaction for what seemed to be an eternity. And then there it was. Like an optical illusion, the slightest curl of the lips revealed the semblance of smile.
“OHMYGAWD YOU HAVE TO TELL ME EVERYTHING!” his arm went limp underneath my hand loosening his wrist into a full-on flail.
“Well you see, it all began…”
To be continued.