Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bring on the Sexy Stews!

Good evening, dear readers! I have been agonizing all day, trying to find a topic that will justify the massive increase in followership for my blog. Oh, the pressure has been intense! Especially since I am now followed internationally!
Welcome, Barry.

I decided to reveal a big juicy secret about myself, something very few people know. A long time ago, I tried to become an airline pilot! Now, there's little suspense to the ending of this tale since you know that instead, I am a totally famous blog writer. But I'm sure you're intrigued about what happened when I had my momentous interview with a MAJOR airline's personnel office in Chicago. We will refer to this organization as "Airline X" to avoid any legal issues about my revealing the details of this incident.

We must go back in time to the mid-1970's. To put you in the mood, I will remind you of the music of that particular year. "The Way We Were" (how appropriate) was the # 1 Hit, Mac Davis' "One Hell of a Woman" (even more appropriate) was in 10th place, Billy was urged not to be a Hero, and Rikki was exhorted Not to Lose that Number. Okay, enough with getting you mentally prepared for this trip down memory lane. So, it's about 1974, I've been assigned to Explore a Career by Interviewing Someone in the Profession. I loved to travel by airplane and thought it would be very cool to be a stewardess. Alas, I was not shaped like a stewardess. Not remotely.

Bear in mind that stewardesses of that time were touted for their incredible sex appeal.

Kathleen Barry's book, Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants gives a great accounting of what it was like. Joshua Zeitz reviewed the book for American Heritage:
The same year Braniff, another major carrier, introduced an “air strip,” in which stewardesses shed layers of high-end garments, from hats and scarves down to more basic attire. In 1971 National, not to be outdone, ran a now-famous campaign featuring Cheryl Fioravente, a real-life flight attendant, with the slogan “Hi, I’m Cheryl—Fly Me.” To which Continental responded, “We Really Move Our Tails for You,” prompting National to change its slogan to “We’ll Fly You Like You’ve Never Been Flown Before.” And on and on. (Air France: “Have You Ever Done It the French Way?” Air Jamaica: “We Make You Feel Good All Over.”)

So, I figured I'd just become a pilot instead. Pilots didn't have to be beautiful, right? They just had to fly the plane. No problem. When I sat down with the nice personnel director to learn about what I needed to do to prepare to work for Airline X, I was shocked to learn that there was a physical requirement for pilothood. Height. More than I had or was likely to ever attain even with shoes like these:

(Note how clever these babies were - clear shoes so as to make one appear naturally super tall!)

So my dream was shattered before I ever began. In retrospect, I can only say "thank you very much" to Personnel Director X for not pointing out the obvious and destroying my fragile teen girl self image - that prospects weren't very promising for me on the weight requirements either.

Now, of course, flight attendants are respected as highly trained professionals. Sexual harassment is a thing of the past. (Well, they ARE highly trained professionals, even if they still have to deal with jerks trying to pinch their tuchases.) But there remains an expectation that applicants will have strength, agility and stamina. My friend Rachel, who flies the friendly skies, has all those attributes big time. Plus, she's a total babe. Just ask the guy in Row 9.


Shana said...

Those airline slogans are priceless. I can just see Don Draper on Mad Men working on those ad campaigns.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I was totally thinking of the Mad Men, too.

Sorry your dreams were dashed but if it makes you feel any better, I think a lot of people were crushed by the 70s.

Barry said...

Very witty post! I love your writing.

As someone who travels a lot on business, the romance of flight fades very quickly.

I'm much happier having you as our pilot on this blog!

Can I be your steward and hand out drinks for everybody?

Rachel said...

You're right, I did miss this one! How could that have happened to your #1 devoted fan? Again, you always make me laugh. It's a good thing you're usually a fiction writer as you could be held for libel with the "babe" statement about me.