Tuesday morning, Heathrow, Terminal 3. I’ve boarded my Boeing 747, Flight CX252 to Hong Kong and am walking to my seat. The public sector strikes scheduled for Wednesday mean I’m flying a day early – I can blame them for many things, but not my hangover. Thankfully my throbbing head can relax as my excessive organisation has me fully prepared; I checked in 48 hours ago, chose the perfect seats (aisle for the first leg, window for the second) and, through Cathay Pacific’s website, selected the movies I’ll be watching (Horrible Bosses, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Midnight in Paris and Mr Popper’s Penguins). I’m the only person I know who runs out of time to do all the things they need to do on a long haul flight.
I approach my seat and take a (hopefully unnoticeable) intake of breath at the attractive, olive-skinned man in the seat next to mine. We smile hello to each other and I attempt to put my hand luggage in the overhead compartment. He jumps up and grabs my bag.
MAN: Let me get that for you (I hear an accent – Dutch?).
I thank him, and we seat and buckle ourselves.
MAN: So you’re going to Hong Kong?
ME: For just a few hours – I’m heading to Australia from there.
Polite conversation reveals that he’s German, a dentist, plays the piano, and is an avid motorcyclist. I’ve a history of owning scooters (which prompts mild, good-natured mocking on his part), his name is Wolfgang (which prompts immense, good-natured mocking on mine). He’s on his way to Australia for a friend’s wedding which leads us to indicate that we’re both single, and a distinctly flirtatious atmosphere develops.
After we’re fed, the lights are switched off. We draw up our blankets and lower our seats. I wait for about half an hour, my body tense, before pretending to fall asleep. My heart pounds as I feel the back of his left hand lightly brush against my outer right thigh and settle there. Gradually, I feel his hand move more firmly against my leg and gently stroke it (you’ll have to take my word for it when I say this wasn’t creepy). The excitement is intense.
Inch by inch, I slowly drop my head to his shoulder, my mouth slightly open (attractiveness had to be sacrificed for authenticity … I’m not saying I’m proud of my actions!). After twenty minutes in this position, a child kicks my seat so I take my opportunity to “wake”. Trying to look dazed, I sit up and lift my head from Wolfgang’s shoulder.
ME: God, I’m sorry!
MAN: It’s okay … I liked it.
ME (my heart jumping at the recognition of our intimacy. I smile): Well I just hope I didn’t dribble on you.
MAN: Not at all – I was really enjoying it.
I laugh and we both watch our individual movies before landing. Wolfgang asks for my email address (he’s getting a different connecting flight), but I don’t intend to see him again – we had our moment on the flight and it’s best to recognise these for what they are. One friend had a mile high-esque experience with an Italian man and made the mistake of meeting him for dinner – she maintains it was the second worst date of her life. Another friend (male) had a mile high experience (no “esque” about it) on a flight to America and ended up being punched by the woman’s husband, a US soldier. It’s often best to walk away while you’re enjoying yourself and I’m choosing to take my brief moment of titillation.
I board the second leg from Hong Kong to Melbourne and see a middle-aged Chinese woman in the seat next to me. This flight will have a very different vibe to the last one. I smile at her and open my book. When we take off I’ll put my headphones on; Mr Popper’s Penguins awaits.