How to Lose a Pilot in 10 Days.

I am sitting on the passenger’s side of my car, crying because the song , “Drops of Jupiter” by Train just came on the radio. It’s the corniest song ever written, but it’s making me cry because it idealizes what I thought I wanted: a meaningful relationship.

Fuck meaningful relationships. I had been searching for this ridiculous concept for the greater part of my adult life. There was John, a controlling little troll with whom I wasted seven years of my life; Kirk, with whom I had mind-blowing sex but nothing in common; Luke, who was a community college student, very sweet, but cognitively slow; Adam, who was more of just a friend whom I slept with a few times because I was lonely; Scott, a narcissistic flight attendant with an Adonis body, then came my dry spell.

Shortly after the self-absorbed flight attendant and I parted ways, I turned 30.  My friends were all in serious relationships. I also realized I was no longer able to gain validation by simply being around a bunch of drunk lonely men in a bar.

One of my gay flight attendant husbands, Dave, flew with a single, young, attractive pilot. Dave and I disliked pilots as a rule: the majority are arrogant, stingy, and opinionated. But I always trust my gay husbands, and when Dave told me about this funny, easy-going pilot, I couldn’t resist. Plus, I figured it’d be a good idea to try something different from dating mean Napoleonic ogres and self-absorbed flight attendant gym rats.

Joey and I were set up when I had a San Francisco layover. Both Joey and Dave lived in the Bay Area. Dave looked at both Joey’s and my schedules and noticed we’d be landing in the San Jose International Airport around the same time. Joey and I spoke on the phone and arranged a time to meet in front of the California Pizza Kitchen at the airport.

After my flight landed, I changed from my skanky polyester uniform to a skirt that hid my beer belly and hoisted my butt, and a tank top that made my barely B-cup boobs look more like C-plus mammaries. I transformed the frizzy chia pet on my head to a flat-ironed mane.

I started walking toward our meeting place, when what looked like a 19-year old boy dressed in a pilot’s uniform walked toward me, smiling. He said, “Hey! This isn’t so awkward after all!” And gave me a friendly hug.

I dig guys who look 19 but have real jobs. We walked together to the employee parking lot, where he opened his car door and towel changed (an acrobatic act surfers and other athletes do to change into and out of their wetsuits/workout gear).

“Hey, don’t look at my wiener! I don’t want you to think I’m a molester!”

I liked this guy.

Usually blind dates suck. They make me want to slit my wrists. But this blind date was like being with one of my buddies. One of my buddies whom I fantasized getting naked with. This was good.

Joey and I drove to the city (San Francisco), and went dancing at a dive bar called Butter.

I usually clam up around people I don’t know. Call it social awkwardness or insecurity, but I don’t always make the best first impression.

With Joey, I felt like dancing. So I did, by myself, just because I felt happy. When I came back to our table, Joey said, “I’m not possessive so no worries if you want to dance with anyone else.”

To which I responded, “But I like you. It’s just fun to dance.”

“Wow, you are SO cool. Why are you single?”

“I don’t like settling. I’m picky.” (Said the woman who’d recently dated a mentally impaired student).

“Why are YOU single? You’re cool yourself.”

“Same. I’m just picky.”

We bonded over airline stories and tequila & orange juice.

We drove to Dave’s studio apartment where I’d planned to spend the night, and both men rubbed my feet while we all laughed about how scared we’d been before we met each other. I ended up sleeping on Dave’s couch, Joey on the floor.

The next morning, Joey drove me to the airport and we kissed goodbye. I felt elated. I’d met a guy who was not a troll, not mentally slow, had a job, and was amusing and easy on the eyes. And he liked me!

There was already a message on my answering machine when I got home from my trip.

In an impish voice, the message played: “Hi Kelley, it’s crew scheduling. You need to call first officer Joey Schneider ASAP because he really wants to rub your feet again.”

I laughed, relieved “he” had called, and enchanted by his sense of humor.

He was attending a friend’s wedding in San Diego with a female friend the following weekend. We arranged for me to pick him up at San Diego airport Friday, he’d stay at my place, then he’d go to the wedding Saturday and come back to my place after.

When I picked him up at the airport, he looked at me and said, “Are you for real? You are so great.”

I felt the same about him.

I’d planned a small gathering at my apartment that Friday night so we’d have something to do and he could meet my friends. He was charming, funny, easy with everyone, and I had a difficult time hiding my euphoria that maybe, just maybe, I’d found “the one”.

One of my friends, Laura, made some (strong) margaritas. After two drinks, I started to slouch on the sofa.

People filed out of my place as I started to droop my head. Joey sat in the papasan chair in my living room, while I lay across from him on the couch, watching the ceiling spin. Apparently he was playing with himself, because when I rolled over, he had his penis out and said, “Do you want to sit on this?”

To which I said, “Okay.” And I sat on it.

I know—I put out early, but we really liked each other.

That afternoon, he asked me if I could drop him off at that wedding. I’d figured we’d had such a fabulous time the night before, that he’d alter his plans. But as I didn’t want to appear needy, I agreed to give him a lift, and tried not to ruminate.

“You can drop me off right here. I might stay overnight, but I’ll call you to let you know.”

“Ok. Have fun!”

I drove home with a sick feeling.  Was I being too sensitive? I’d known he was going to this wedding before he’d visited.  I guess I hadn’t planned on getting tipsy on margaritas and fornicating on our second date.

I called Laura when I got home, telling her I felt low. She told me she and her roommates were making dinner and invited me to come over, so I wouldn’t obsess over Joey.

“You look terrible,” she said when she opened her front door.

“I feel needy. Is he playing me?”

“I don’t know. He seems really into you. Why don’t you take a Valium so you aren’t so anxious?”

“That sounds like a great idea.”

Laura made bi-weekly visits to Tijuana to buy benzodiazepines, painkillers, and any other pills that got her—or her friends—through the night.

We drank red wine and watched mindless cable. An hour after I arrived at her house, Joey called my cell phone:

“I want to see you. I’m leaving the wedding early and taking a cab to your friend’s.”

I felt like I’d won the lottery.  Joey had decided on his own that I was more than just another girl who’d sit on his penis.

I poured myself a second glass of red wine and toasted Laura to celebrate.

When I turned the door handle to welcome Joey, my hand felt disconnected from the rest of my body, and my vision started to blur.

“Heeey, baybee. I’m really glad you made it. We’re having a trippy time, drinkin’ wine and on cloud niiiine.”

“I’m glad to see you too. Are you feeling okay?”

“I feel good. I was worried you didn’t like me anymore, but I’ve got isssshues,” I slurred, as I fell back on the sofa with my legs straight up, exposing my panties to Joey, Laura, and her three male roommates.

Joey looked shell shocked, as this was not the cool girl he’d hung out with at the dive bar in San Francisco.

This was a neurotic, sloppy girl on Valium and red wine.

Oh crap. I’d taken that Valium a couple hours ago.

I don’t remember much of the rest of the night, except that Joey had to carry me to my car and drive us home.

I rolled over the next morning to Joey’s deer in the headlights expression.

“You know what, babe, we should go to breakfast, then I’m gonna fly out of here because I have a lot of stuff to take care of at home before my next trip.”

“Um, ok. We can drive down to the pier; my favorite breakfast place is near there. Then we can walk on the beach after. Let me get ready.”

Why is he acting so freaked out? I thought everything was okay; he left the wedding to be with me and we had another fun night.

He was silent, with that stupefied expression on his face, as we drove to breakfast.  As we waited in line for food, he said,  “I have an idea—since we both have so much to do today, why don’t we just get coffee?”

“Uh, I guess.”

We got a coffee to go and walked back to my car. As we approached , I noticed he’d packed his bags and loaded them in the back seat.

“Well, I’d better be on my way. Why don’t you drop me off at the airport on your way home, so you don’t have to make an extra trip?”

What happened? I brooded. I hadn’t remembered my behavior of the night before. All I knew was that I felt dissed.

Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” started to play on the car stereo:

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere

With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey, hey

She acts like summer and walks like rain

Reminds me that it’s time to change, hey, hey, hey…

It’s sappy as a dying tree, I know, but the song made me start to cry.

So let’s look at it from Joey’s perspective: An easy-going, fun girl comes into his life one weekend, he courts her during the week, visits her the next weekend, and by Sunday she is a blubbering basket case.

The only sound on the drive to the airport was of me sniffling. I dropped him off, drove home, and went back to sleep.

Joey gave me a courtesy call a few days later to see how I was doing. Our conversation was forced, and we were both glad to get off the phone.

I was upset with myself for a couple of weeks, but realized Joey wasn’t so stupendous after all.

If this had been a contest to figure out how to lose a guy in the shortest amount of time possible, I’d have been the champion. So if you wan to lose a pilot in 10 days, herein lies the instruction manual.