The Mile High Club

“Come on, get your mind out of the gutter! It only happened once and it was his girlfriend on the flight,” Eric said, his warm eyes laughing at me.

“But how did you know?” I asked, fascinated by all the tidbits of his exciting lifestyle.

“A pilot says he needs 15 minutes alone in the cockpit, well, not alone. Anyway, it’s a small enough company, so the reputation stays with him.”

“What about you? Have you ever…?” I asked.

“Of course not!” He told me as he winked and took a bite of his extra crispy bacon.

We both laughed. Eric was about the fifth guy I had taken to my favorite brunch restaurant in the past couple months. I don’t even care to know what the hostess might be thinking, but over the eggs benedict and freshly pressed juice, I was beginning to like the view from the top. This is how I developed my 20:1 rule. For every 20 guys you meet who are completely wrong, there will be one who just might be right.

Eric was a pilot on long haul routes, which, I learnt, meant that his flights averaged 10 hours in duration and that he mainly flew to paradise beach destinations. Long haul is the most coveted route, so it meant he was great at his job but that he was also away from home two weeks a month.

Now in my previous post, I explain my aversion to dating lawyers. I feel the opposite way about scientists, so when I found out that Eric was also an aeronautical and spatial engineer who taught flight theory to new pilots, if I had been a man, I would not have been able to stand up right away without knocking over our basket of croissants!

It had been a long time since I had such a great first date. It was a sunny autumn day and we stayed out for hours. Walking in the park, sitting in the park, kissing in the park, I got to know everything about him. I couldn’t wait to book my ticket to Punta Cana on one of his flights.

On this park bench, as he told me about trajectories and how the airlines throw dead chickens into the engines for testing, I was staring down his checkered shirt, admiring his ample and masculine chest hair (a fetish of mine I never share with hairless men), wondering what it would it would feel like under my fingers. When I wasn’t staring at his chest, I was staring at his mouth as he spoke, subconsciously licking my own lips whenever he would pronounce a long “u” like in “prune.” When he would stop speaking, I would look into his deep blue eyes that reflected into mine a joyful admiration.

One of the reasons I love scientists is because I myself love science. I love to understand things, like why vinegar dissolves calcium deposits in the bathroom or how to hybrid my orchids (I’m still working on this). As I listened intently to every interesting word he said, I knew I was starting to like him.

“What about you? Did you always want to work in marketing?” He inquired.

“Actually, don’t laugh, but I have always wanted to be a plastic surgeon. If I could do it over again, I would have gone to medical school.” I revealed something I share with few people.

Now this is a true story and while some of my posts poke fun at guys, it is not my intention to do so here. The following is what happened and in writing about it, I do not in any way mean to make light of the situation.

With his next remarks, Eric effectively made me wonder: how much information is too much to provide on a first date?

“Plastic surgery huh?” he said. “That’s interesting because…” He went on to tell me about the different genetic disorders he has inherited from both parents, one of which required multiple plastic surgeries. It is not important to list the specific conditions but, needless to say, this is something I have not before heard on a first date.

Then he went on to tell me, “And also, the occupation of airline personnel reduces their life expectancy by 8 years.”

With all the tact and grace of a drunken hobo, I said, “I had no idea. You should ask for more money.” Like a true gentleman does in a situation where a woman says something stupid, he pretended not to hear it and we moved on to a lighter topic.

Now, I will definitely see Eric again. First of all, while my flaws are not genetic per se, they are enough to place me firmly within the most fragile of glass houses.

Still I cannot understand what transpired on this first date. Was he already thinking about having babies with me? Had we gotten so close that we passed the attraction phase into being chums? Was he trying to turn me off? Was he just nervous? Is this something he just discusses openly with near strangers?

I will give him a free pass and assume that something I said on the date was equally inopportune and that we are at par. He has messaged since and expressed a desire to meet again. Now I have to wait two weeks; I just hope he brings me something nice from Thailand!

-Albany Eden

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The Russian Scientist and the Mosquito Poison

“Come on, let’s go to a night club tonight!” my dear friend Angela said.

I had been in China for nine days, felt allergic to the pollution and was experiencing some kind of culture shock as I was not in Shanghai or even Beijing. I was in the north of China in a city of millions where at this precise moment, I thought I was the only non-Chinese.  I was also not feeling too great because of all the mosquito bites.

“Ok, but first I need to bathe in the mosquito poison.”
“Fine,” she said, “we leave in 20 minutes.”

China had been a lot of things: built up, bustling, buildings crumbling, dirty…I wondered what a night club would look like in a city where the local cobbler was just a woman in a club chair on the sidewalk surrounded by bags of tools and material.

That night I learned never to judge a city’s nightlife by its day life. Whatever this Chinese city didn’t spend on street repairs, it put double into the nightclub! The Sunny Sunshine club was spectacular. I wonder if I have seen such a nice club even in Europe. First, it was air-conditioned, which was greatly appreciated in the sweltering Chinese summer heat. There was a live singer with talent, beautiful sculpted watermelon fruit platters being served, what looked like a hundred Tiffany chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, cocktails with sparklers and a separate jazz bar, to give variety in the music.

Among the heads of black hair, nobody bothering us, the music, the 90’s vibe, I really started to enjoy myself. Angela was engaged but still remembered how to enjoy a night out. We danced and drank and it was she who first noticed Alexei. After she pointed him out, it was hard not to notice him. At 6’4” he towered over the Chinese and was looking straight at me.

Alexei was a Russian aerospace engineer in China for a few weeks to teach the Chinese something about building airplanes. After my coy flirtation ritual, he finally offered me a drink. For some reason, often when I meet a man I like and he offers me a drink, I will order something I have never had before.

“I’ll have a B52”
“What?” he said with his heavy Russian accent.

Alexei didn’t understand. I had to type it into his iPhone. That’s actually how we communicated that night when we had to, but for the most part we were dancing. Towering over me, the only way for him to get close was to put his nose in my hair.

“Your perfume is perfect.”

I didn’t want to tell him that I was wearing only mosquito poison. With Angela’s help, we exchanged numbers. A few dates ensued and coincidentally the pollution in China started to bother me less. Alexei was handsome and brilliant, so I couldn’t understand why he was single but he told me he had trouble meeting women since he was working in the field of aerospace engineering.

On Alexei’s last night in China, Angela, Alexei, his friend Oleg and I all went out for a drink. That evening, I had forgotten to wear my mosquito repellent and of course noticed a few bloodsuckers circling around me preparing for an attack.

Alexei was trying to look into my eyes and speak intently. Perhaps he was telling me what these weeks together had meant to him but I couldn’t hear a word because I was preoccupied by the floating insects. Finally Angela asked the waitress who gave us a bottle of precious mosquito poison. I guess she expected it to come out in drops but when Angela tried to apply the product on my legs, it all spilled out and got all over my lap and bare thighs.  Almost instantly I was upright and running upstairs to the restroom to clean myself off.

china night club albany edenAs I dried my legs in the unisex restroom (unisex restrooms are very common in this part of China), Alexei came in. There must be something in mosquito poison that Russian scientists cannot resist. Of course it was the restroom and my friend was waiting downstairs, so Alexei did not get what he wanted. We went back to the table, enjoyed the evening and after a great night with friends, said goodbye as he was going back to Moscow the next day.

For the next couple weeks, we’d message each other and he’d always send me emoji roses. I wanted to see him again. Angela offered to invite him to her wedding and I thought that was a perfect idea. It was strange that the spelling of his name that he gave me and the one in his email address (when I asked for it for the wedding invitation) were not the same but I thought nothing of it. Moments after giving her his email address, I got a call from Angela.

“Albany, you have to have a look at this.” Apparently, in typing his email address with the correct spelling of his last name, she was immediately directed to his Google+ page where all of his personal photos were public. It didn’t take long for me to understand that not only was Alexei married to a beautiful young Russian woman, but they had a baby together! I deleted his number from my phone when I saw a photo he posted of himself in a warehouse-like giant supermarket with a trolley full of diapers; the caption he wrote beneath this picture read: “5 minutes of pleasure, a lifetime of worries.”

I guess mosquito poison doesn’t repel married men with babies.

-Albany Eden