I spent last weekend in and around Hobart. It was amazing, beautiful country side, lovely people. However I’ve come here to to document our flight home.
On the way home to Adelaide we had a brief stopover in Melbourne. This was good, it broke the trip up into two shorts legs so there wasn’t any time to get bored. As the northern coast of Tasmania disappeared from sight and the plane settled in for the brief dash across the Bass Strait, I made a comment to the two ladies I was travelling with regarding the evacuation doors.
It was a small plane, probably a 737, and there were three pairs of emergency exits, at the front, in the middle at row 12, and at the back of the plane. Now, in row 18 we were right between the middle and last row of seats but the distance to the middle doors was probably shorter than the distance to the rear doors. However, when you consider the distribution of passengers in the plane there’s going to be more demand for those middle doors because it needs to service those sitting in front and behind it.
Anyway, when we transferred onto our connecting flight we found ourselves in the same row, this time I took the isle seat. Row 18 is also right where one of the aircrew stand as they do their drill instilling the delusion of safety. Now I’m not always the most tuned in person, my gaydar is fuzzy at the best of times… but in hindsight the steward standing next to row 18 on that flight wasn’t hiding his identity. Let’s call him Mr Fabulous. His bulging biceps strained his tight fitting shirt as he stood there going through the intricacies of airline seat-belts and lifejackets.
Seeing as he was standing right there I thought I’d enlighten him with our revelation regarding the exit procedure. Maybe my subconscious realised he was gay, but I was preoccupied making polite conversation. While he was pointing out the safety features I asked him “do you think we’d be going out the centre door, or would we be backdoor men sitting here?” I was totally naïve to my own innuendo.
Mr Fabulous, stopped for a moment and glanced in my direction before continuing with the dramatisation of the safety spiel. I thought he’d been put off by my talking, but much later I was informed that he was checking me out. Hence, my innocent and naïve follow-up of “oh, I’ll talk to you later” might’ve been interpreted as a rather more promiscuous invitation than intended.
The girls whom I was travelling with however, picked up on all of this and were rolling in their seats next to me in fits of laughter. I assumed that they were just embarrassed by the way I’d interrupted the steward and it was amusing because the host was trying to hold back laughter as well. I made a comment to Mr Fabulous, that I thought I may have embarrassed the ladies, but he was too busy with his routine for anything more than a suppressed laugh and a nod. Before the briefing was over I turned to the girl next to me and made a comment about the size of his biceps, but I’m certain that was out of Fab’s ear shot.
On completing the drill all of the stewards went to the back of the plane where they sit during take-off. The girls settled down and highlighted for me the connotations surrounding ‘the backdoor’ (I laughed, I sighed, but I still didn’t make the connection that Mr Fab was gay).
As soon as the plane settled some crew members came from the back of the plane, pulling a food trolley. I was trying to keep a low profile but as they passed I heard the stewardess giggling. I looked up from my suduko to see another steward grinning from ear to ear and nodding in my direction like one of those toy dogs that people sit on their dashboard. The girls next to me responded once again in a fit of laughter.
As they returned this steward asked me if I’d worked out whether I was a backdoor man yet. I chuckled as he explained to me that Mr Fabulous had spread the news ’cause, they’ll do anything to “make these flights less boring”. I decided to try and dig my way out and started explaining my idea of considering population distribution for emergency evacuation. He picked up on my train of thought straight away, adding “but it’s like when you enter someone’s house, you normally leave via the same route. Most of the time people will simply go out the same way they came in… of course, we’re still talking about safety..” He laughed at me and continued up the isle. The girl to my left patted me on the back adding “No, Dig up, stupid!”
It was only a short flight and after the girl settled down again we talked about it some more.. One of the girls, whom I don’t know so well, asked me if I was at all interested and I replied “not at all. I don’t bat for that team, but I can appreciate talent when I see it. He was very good looking, obviously looks after himself, he was really buff..” As these words left my mouth, Mr Fabulous appeared out of nowhere, strutting down the isle. It seemed inevitable that his ears were tuned into what I was saying, but he kept moving. I prayed for a crash, or a mid-air collision — as i melted in my seat.
But it wasn’t to be, coming into land the seat-belt light came on and the MC started going over the landing drill on the PA, “… please return your seats and tray tables to their upright position … those sitting towards the front of the plane please exit out the front doors, those towards the back of the plane, well, you’re backdoor men. If anyone wants to stay behind and help clean the aircraft you’re more than welcome.” By this stage the people around us were becoming concerned with the ferocity of the laughter and the girl next to me was wiping tears from her cheeks.
As we left the plane Mr. Fabulous fare-welled me with “oh, so you decided you were a backdoor man?”
Playfully I gave him a wink, replying “yeah, I go in and out the same way” before bouncing down the stairs.
As we walked across the tarmac one of the girls said to the other “He was totally into Matt, did you see when he was checking him out?”
Wha? He was gay? The revelation was instantaneous, it was as obvious as it could possibly be. Still, I asked, with a sense of disbelief if they really thought he was gay.
It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.. At least this time it wasn’t just the usual embarrassing ignorance… it made for a memorable fight home, a priceless way to end a sensational holiday.