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    Mary does Dallas

    I would be remiss if I didn’t publicly thank the du Toits for their amazing hospitality over the weekend, which was of the old-fashioned variety: the constant flowing of coffee, the constant passing of treats, the wandering of conversation agreeably from topic to topic. After one particularly wonderful dinner, I picked up a plate to carry it five steps to the kitchen, and the proprietor of Serenity’s Journal practically got me into a hammerhold to wrest it out of my hand and shove me toward one of the living room couches.

    And the children were, of course, wonderful. They were respectful and non-strident but completely at ease in adult conversation around someone they hadn’t met. This is clearly a household of people who regard each other highly. Spending time with them reminded me of everything I love about America, and I can’t thank them enough.

    By contrast, my message for American airlines (including American Airlines) is, “Thanks for nothing.” I mean, the flights were generally smooth, and the flight attendants were generally fine. In the sense of job performance, that is to say, not in the sense of attractiveness. I make it a practice not to make physical evaluations of people who are on-duty.

    Yeah, right, you got me. I noticed. But it’s not the fault of the flight attendants that they age badly, is it? Something to do with all those UV rays at 35000 feet. And working in confined spaces gives them an unfortunate tendency to mince. All that flying did give me yet more occasions to marvel at how TOTALLY HOT American men on average are, though. Even the guys who aren’t hot are hot. Probably part of it is that I’m a sucker for good forearms–you know, the sinewy, hairy, I-am-a-male-mammal kind. The businessman sitting next to me on my flight out of Dallas had his sleeves rolled up, and every time he turned the page of his newspaper, his muscles rippled, and the hair on his wrists spilled over his watchband at a different light-catching angle. I can only hope he thought that what I was staring so acquisitively at was his Rolex. Of course, looking resolutely forward didn’t help, because every time some guy reached up into the light of his reading lamp to close his overhead ventilator, I thought I’d die.

    I wasn’t literally afraid of dying, despite the turbulence over Texas, because our captain did an ace job of skirting around the bad weather almost as soon as we encountered it. While the various excitable parts of my anatomy are getting their appreciative messages in, my stomach would like to thank him–but it would also like to ask, purely out of scientific interest, whether the head of food service at AA (and United, which got me from La Guardia to DFW) was actively trying to give us all a stereotypical airline-meal horror story with which to regale friend and foe alike in the coming weeks. I mean, good grief. In my experience, JAL, ANA, and Thai Airways–even Tiger Economy cellar-dweller Korean Air–have managed to contrive in-flight meals that are about as good as leftover homemade food that you microwave too long so it has a few hard pellet-y bits. Not yummy, but not repellant. The food on United and American was a whole other deal. Holding iced vodka (WTF is up with making people pay for liquor on trans-Pacific flights, BTW?) in the mouth for a good long time to deaden tongue and palate helped a bit, but I’d kind of hoped that, this being a code-share flight with JAL, those involved would be motivated by shame into achieving peak-performance mode for those of us who are used to better. No such luck.

    My fortune improved dramatically on arrival at Narita Terminal 1 (the flight was operated by AA, remember), however. The seatbelt sign was off at the gate at 5:45, I made the 6:13 Narita Express, and I was waiting for a cab in Shibuya by 7:40. It’s probably not the first time such a thing has happened in the history of Japanese commercial aviation, but neither is it the sort of timing any frequent flyer in his right mind would plan on. To achieve it, I had to have uncommon luck at every potential bottleneck point: there was no line at immigration for holders of Japanese passports/reentry permits, my bag was among the first out, the girl at customs waved me through in seconds, and I was in line at the JR counter by 6:10. It’s the kind of exception-that-proves-the-rule that reminds you what a production flying in and out of Tokyo usually is. But at the end of the line was a bath in my own bathtub, a welcome-home call from my audibly happy boyfriend, and sleep in our own bed under our own comforter. Well, until 3 a.m., when jet lag woke me. But that’ll be over in a few days. It’s good to be home. Thanks to every one who helped make this the best 里帰り (satogaeri, “return to the hometown”) ever.

    3 Responses to “Mary does Dallas”

    1. Mrs. du Toit says:

      You’re too kind. It was an honor and a privilege.

    2. Janelle says:

      Oh my goodness Sean, I live in San Antonio and would have loved to meet you, being Dean’s Mum and all.
      Very happy you met with the Du Toit’s. She is a tremendous lady and I have such respect for her and her husband. I was groughy one day over a family thing and Connie was so kind to me. She knows as I do things pass and she never made me feel bad for complaining. She is a smart woman and tremendous wit and wisdom. Her husband is a lucky man and I am sure he knows that!
      Hope you come back to Texas!

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      I’d love to come back to Texas; you’ll have to promise to ply me with terribly naughty stories about Dean.