The Lady with the Little Bottle of Red Wine

Sean Robert. 2016

Sean Robert. 2016

Part Five of "The Grindr Monologues." Rated UCF.

(Not caught up yet? No sweat. Start with part one here.)

The floor of the plane rumbled underneath my feet as Erin, passed out on my shoulder, began to snore. With the tray table down in front of me, I swiveled around the empty plastic cup in my right hand, and shot back the last ice-cube melted sips of a G&T. Breathing in a deep yoga breath, I came to peace with my sober fate for the duration of the flight and then with my right fingers, crushed the plastic cup into oblivion.

It was only a matter of minutes before I started experiencing the first signs of withdrawal. In horror, I gazed down to notice my steady hands fly into a moderate state of turbulence. Rattling back and forth, I snapped the tray table shut when my finger nails began to furiously tap SOS in Morse Code. Locking down my hands underneath my legs, I brought myself to a brief moment of respite, before hearing an alarm set off in my ears as my brain opened up the floodgates of anxiety.

Within seconds, I was plagued by uncertainty and fear regarding the answers to such pressing questions as: “Did I forget to pack my moisturizer?” and “What if Wentworth Miller takes out a restraining order against me?”

Wesley, the gay male flight attendant who denied my prepaid credit in the first place, wheeled up to my row with a garbage cart. Drenched in sweat, I looked as if I should have been quarantined. Even whiter than usual, I felt like Marc Renton in Trainspotting when he locks himself inside a bedroom with canned soup and a garbage can in a failed attempt to kick heroin.

With baby-blue non-latex gloves strapped tight around his fingers, Wesley reached down to remove the crumpled cup which was stuffed haphazardly into the pouch in front of me.

“You don’t look so good,” he said with a genuine sound of concern. “Is everything okay?”

“Oh great, great, yeah everything’s great!” I regurgitated each word before unlocking my hands to remove the sweat from my brow. Like a rich housewife in the first stages of divorce, armed with nothing but an embarrassing prenuptial agreement, it was imperative that I did not show any sign of weakness.

Fortunately, he bought my story and continued on his heroic path to rid the back cabin of all garbage and recyclables. Closing my eyes, I pleaded with my brain to go to sleep when the faintest sound of a question washed up in my left ear. I turned my head left to see where the question mark was coming from when I discovered its source: the lady in the window seat.

“Why didn’t you hook up with him?” she asked. This time I heard her crystal clear.

Up until this part of the story, the lady two seats down from mine had remained without description. Focusing in on her profile, I jotted down mental notes as she began to take shape. In her mid-fifties to early sixties, she had shoulder length blonde hair that was frosted sterling silver. Also of major note were her golden earrings. Each ornament dropped down from Sapphire stones and splintered into diamonds that dangled like chandeliers on both sides of her neck.

“Listen Ginger, please do not make me ask you again.”

I pinched myself to make sure I was not hallucinating. Then I pinched myself again to double-check. Without warning, I shifted upright in my seat. Erin’s heavy head dropped from my shoulder and plunged onto her chest.

“I’m sorry, but who are you?” I asked.

“Irene, and that’s all you need to know for now.” I watched her carefully as she bent over and fumbled into a bright seafoam green Michael Kors bag at the base of her feet. “I was afraid it was going to come to this,” she mumbled.

Like the sound of a cash register knocking fifty percent off, I exploded with glee when I heard the sound of two wine bottles clanking.

“But how did you?” I stuttered. “Where did you-”

“I will ask the questions for now,” she cut me off, unscrewing the caps on two little bottles of red wine. As she passed me a drink, I jotted down the rest of her profile. Teal was the colour of the cashmere sweater that trickled out from underneath a silk Hermes scarf. Brindle was the colour of her two eyes that popped out from underneath charcoal frames the same shape and size as mine. I checked and there was no wedding ring to speak of.

I presented her with a cheers and then took a sip from salvation. Almost immediately my hands stop shaking and my forehead dried up.

“The reason why I didn’t hook up with DQ Man was … well it’s a long story. Truthfully, I’m not quite sure I’m ready to tell it.”

“Well as far as I know, we’ve still got three Great Lakes to fly over and I am a fantastic listener.”

For some reason, I felt as if I had met this lady before, or known her for my entire life. Unlike the much younger Erin, I could sense that she could see right through my incredibly attractive and fickle façade.

“Well at the time, I wasn’t tested yet,” I admitted to her. “Prior to my adventure on Grindr, I had unprotected sex with a man who turned out to be HIV positive and I was too terrified to get my results back.”

“Now we are finally getting somewhere,” Irene took a sip of her wine. “Carry on.”

To be continued.