(Plane not to scale)
More accurately, I should say that I’m in the air…again.
You all know how I love flying.
And covering my true emotions with humor.
Hell, I’m not even disappointed that my pithy tweet about my trip didn’t break the internet.
You see, my flight tonight from Atlanta to Portland is Delta #503, the area code for Portland being…503.
I’ll wait while you feel sorry for my friends that are routinely exposed you my rapier wit and its similarly pithy observations.
What can I say? They obviously love me.
Speaking of love.
I occasionally write about both travel and love. Something I write about less often – maybe – is travel sex.
A couple of things:
1) Since the advent of so-called dating apps – mating apps or asocial media in Chrisenese – I’ve slow clapped for travelers who use hotel rooms as a shower to rinse clean any morality that would prevent one human for using another strictly for their own sexual gratification. Because that’s an accomplishment.
Right. Writing about this topic just manifests as this grumpy old man tilting at social windmills.
B) When Sacha left me, it was for a guy in Vancouver, WA – aka: Vantucky – and I (in)famously ejaculated, “You can’t even date within your own state?!? How undateable are you?”
So I guess I come by my contempt for the whole traveling sexual shenanigans thing somewhat honestly.
Plus, I think you gotta earn sex. Put your time in at a bar getting to know someone. Develop an attraction. Find a desire that’s seated deeper than the profile pic they post of their abs from five years ago or – even worse – of their junk.
Hell, for that matter, just learn their name.
See? I’m ranting.
But…because there’s always a but.
That doesn’t stop me from developing attractions from strangers when I travel. I’m fairly gregarious by nature. It was my default setting before I became grumpy.
Ever heard of the Stranger on a Plane Theory?
Basically, it’s a social phenomenon that predates social media, since now, clicking with someone nowadays usually involves some sort of social networking next step.
But the theory is usually one person’s therapy and their seatmate’s personal hell, since it affords and exploits the anonymity of travelers.
You’re never going to see them after all, right? So complete honesty usually ensues and you basically cleanse yourself by barfing out all your deepest darkest to the poor bastard sitting next to you.
Luckily, I have WordPress.
Of course, I’m my reality – or surreality, as it likely is – I can indulge myself in some faux getting to know yous while traveling since…
It’s kinda like a hybrid between having a connection with a co-worker, commonly known as a “work spouse” and this Stranger on a Plane thing.
Please allow me to introduce you to the Seminar Boyfriend Theory.
I wasn’t aware of this extension of my no-investment travel flirtations until a couple of days ago.
Mostly, because it hadn’t existed until then.
Sure, I’d met my current Work Wife at my company’s annual Seminar last November.
Simultaneously, I’d indulged myself in a little travel flirting with an impossibly young, straight averring (made up word warning!) and umappealingly cocky boy last year that I enjoyed spending time with, provided I didn’t take too seriously what came out of his mouth. Mostly this situation arose because each of our respective peer groups hung out with each other, so we were situationally thrown together.
Sure enough, once Seminar ended and he went back to the Great White North it was back to EOG-as-usual for me without a second thought.
I learned via LinkedIn a few months back that he’d left the company, so no repeat performances there. All well and fine by me, I’d planned with my Work Wife to bring a couple of bottles of wine to match her contribution and that was my liver’s meal plan for the trip.
No boys required.
No hanging out in sports bars I had no interest in just because some exec had an open tab. Nope. I planned to spend this year’s free time – what little there is at Seminar – in the hotel gym and sleeping.
Until, of course, I met…
You know, I almost typed his actual name. I don’t know why I don’t. It’s not like my blog is Page 6 or anything. Although, I do have a couple of pretty impressive sleuths amongst my loyal readers. But his name is probably the Indian equivalent of John Smith.
I’ve been holding a low-grade mental debate about posting a pic of us that he took earlier today, but am conflicted about that breach of his anonymity.
That settles it. Sometimes you just have to type through a problem.
Anonymity filter prevails.
You’ll just have to take my word for how cute this year’s Seminar Boyfriend is.
And as if this 5’9″ Indian descended Canadian needed to be any cuter than sparkly eyes, radiant smile and sexy (from what I could glean) physique…he is also smart and has the most endearing Indian accent and tone of voice.
I didn’t dedicate too much mental anguish to the gut wrenching does he/doesn’t he insecurities that eat away at me in normal dating and flirting environments.
I just enjoyed his company.
When he got distracted by something or someone else, I went on my way. After all, I knew I was neglecting my Work Wife, and I knew that she knew it, too. But, I think she was enjoying my display of what minimal game I have…she texted me a photo of the two of us eating dinner together at carnival night with the caption, “Your first couple photo”.
It was just the two of us, leaned in close to one another at a table for ten.
So, this phenomenon evolved in a completely random and unbelievable manner: he came up to me.
It was dinner Monday night: Food Truck Night.
Outside in the side parking lot of our hotel.
Remember, I’d accidentally left my jacket in a store back at PDX on Sunday morning, and everyone was showing up in jackets for this outdoor evening event.
We started chatting while waiting to be released to our foodie playground for the evening. He had also chosen to go sans jacket, being from Edmonton this would be comfortable for him.
Although, in an unexpected spurt of smacktalk, he expressed concern for my comfort.
How could I not adore him instantly?
I assured him, I would be relatively comfortable in Atlanta’s balmy 54 degree evening. But! I added, if it got below 50 I’d either need a hearty booze jacket or be quickly re-examining my situation.
There were five food trucks. My priority was the chicken and waffle truck. Work Wife and Seminar Boyfriend followed suit.
After deciding what I wanted – duh – I offered to go get drinks for us while they ordered. This was also the finals for the Food & Beverage division’s cocktail contest.
We had three options to vote for.
Work Wife chose the coconutty option while Seminar Boyfriend opted for the same bourbon concoction I was going for…and just like that we had our wedding menu:
Chicken & Waffles w/Manhattans (basically, and not that it matters)
I came back with the drinks and we chatted while waiting for our food. He pointed out a couple of times which room was his…he’d left his lights on and his shades open.
No confusing messages here.
We couldn’t find a table, Work Wife had squeezed into an empty seat at another of Seminar’s ubiquitous ten seater round tables. Preferring privacy – obviously – we ended up standing and eating our C&W while simultaneously balancing our paper food truck baskets atop our cocktails.
He wasn’t planning to go all Xtopher on the food carts like I was. He did want to try more than one, though and said he wasn’t going to finish his portion, but would wait for me to go back. By the time I conceded victory, he’d already finished his.
The boy can eat!
I switched course and shoved the last of my waffle in my mouth and we went for round two: burritos!
We enjoyed our burritos with diet cokes while lurking near a pub table we expected to be abandoned soon. We were rewarded about halfway through and shortly after, our new digs were crashed by a friend of mine from Seminar last year – who I learned the next day is his boss, a business development guy I met a couple of times during an RFP at PDX and a regional HR Manager…all of whom were Canadians.
Clearly, it was time to retreat to the bento truck for some dumplings, after which I made my goodnights.(Over Boise, I know you were wondering)
The next day, we passed at breakfast but it was a busy day of merchandising breakouts, so we had to hit the ground running. I noticed at lunch that he had changed his clothes and sent him an email through our Seminar app, teasing him about it.
He didn’t reply.
When I passed him later at the elevators during a break, he offered up an in person account.
Oh, fine. Be confusing. Read the message and don’t reply.
Anyway, on with the day. After we were released for the day, I decided to get in some cardio at the hotel gym. A nice follow up to Monday’s lifting.
I probably won’t be able to walk when I get off the plane.
Once I’d showered, I got my funk going with the glass of wine that Work Wife had tried to distract me from the gym with while I dressed for Carnival Night.
Corn dogs and funnel cakes, I’m coming for you.
Naturally, I was a little buzzed off 3 ounces of wine on an empty, post-workout stomach.
Also, naturally – this is my life we’re talking about here – I ran into Seminar Boyfriend, first damn thing.
This is how the (not) infamous “first couple” pic came into being. Little did Work Wife know – or did she? – that Seminar Boyfriend had snapped a covert pic of me filling my plate with carnie food and posted it to the app with the caption, “Xtopher living his dream!” in a totally non-fat shaming way.
If he only knew.
We played carnival games together, taking turns and holding one another’s drinks. It was super sweet and just an empirically enjoyable evening.
I believe he made his goodnights first this night…yes! he did. That’s how I ended up talking to his boss.
Until midnight as we caught up on the events that transpired with last year’s Seminar Boyfriend – he was a mess – and drank wine.
Yes, I did not mention that both Seminar Boyfriends turned out to work for the same woman.
Again, this is my life we’re talking about here. I’m used to weird coincidences.
Well, there’s more to tell of this cute little alt-reality I’ve been enjoying in my head, but the plane is landing.
I’ll just leave you with this, it remained fun, friendly and sweet…regardless of whether it had one side or two.
Oh, and I did get a little hug at the airport before he took off for the Great White North again.
That iced my cake, and I couldn’t hope for a better ending than that.