A tall, silver haired attendant named Natalie, sporting cat eye specs and clogs with her standard navy and gold uniform, is busy meeting and greeting her First Class guests this morning. There must be a new, first name basis protocol in place by the airline:
"Hello, I'm Natalie."
"Hello, I'm Natalie."
"Hello. You look so much like my dentist from L.A." she tells the passenger in 1A.
"Hello. Wendell? I'm Natalie," to the gentleman in 2B.
"Would you care for an omelette this morning?"
"What is in it?"
"Wellllll, eggs to start.."
"That jacket looks well on you," the bobbed British blonde (looking a bit like Blythe Danner on a bad day) comments to her in flight colleague just before take off.
"Yes, it does," Natalie replies from the First Class galley.
"Because it's lonnger," the blonde adds.
"I saw one lady wearing it belted and it looked just awful," Natalie notes.
"You've got it all going on ....Your looks, your figure (pronounced 'figga')," Blythe comments admiringly, the years showing on her unmade up morning face.
Wendell in 2B is not pleased with the talk, shakes his head, pulls out his earphones and cranks his ipod.
Break in dialogue as we take off.
Upon the pilot's signal that it is safe to move about the cabin, Natalie enters the lavatory.
When she comes back out, her colleague exclaims,"Lovely!"
In Natalie's case, it seems you are never fully dressed without a smile, a fresh coat of red lipstick, and a rhinestone barrette, placed purposefully atop the crown of your forehead, catching a few strands of almost shaved silver hair, not too unlike how a shnauzer might look upon being groomed for Best in Show.
"Well, with this short hair, I never feel fully dressed until I add this," Natalie states pragmatically.
She is now ready to resume service rounds, clanging pots, pans and utensils in preparation.
"Cereal or an omelette," she approaches each of us again, trays in hand, seemingly having forgotten how the meals have been allocated based on her pre take off interviews.
"Nothing, thank you," I say.
"Oh, you are on a diet," she notes gratuitously.
To the passenger who awakes behind me, she prods: " Alright, Hal, it's about time... I'm Natalie. Cereal or an omelette?"
Beverages get served and trays delivered until Natalie suddenly indicates that she has gotten the orders wrong from the start and has run out of cereal.
The natives are not pleased, my fellow seatmate deciding to abstain altogether, shaking his head, partly amused, partly disgruntled. "She is something," he mutters under his breath.
Natalie retreats to the galley to resume her chat with Blythe, who comments about returning home to the East coast of London after a year and how much she is dying to have fish n chips.
"Just once a year!" she declares longingly, as if to ask permission.
They speak about boyfriends, travel, and of course, fashion, and by the time we touch ground at O'Hare, Natalie caps the morning conversation with an editorial on the coats she re-distributes to their rightful owners.
"I love your coat! What a beautiful color!" she says of the Chanel puffer jacket belonging to the woman in Manolos in 1B.
Of course! It is silvery grey, just like Natalie's coiffe.
Go, Natalie! You are The American Idol, pushing 70 and in it to win it!
vintage, silver painted plastic American Airlines stewardess pin, 1960's, as found on www.etsy.com