Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mystery Man in Milan

The days when companies few their exec First Class are long gone-- at least in my universe, but I am grateful for one particular First Class flight from Milan, Italy to Los Angeles more than 20 years ago.  

After two grueling weeks at a major business gathering located inside what looked like a bomb shelter-type bunker, with no windows and sometimes, it seemed, no air, I was ready to fly back to Los Angeles and sleep in my own bed.  I was exhausted and looked it.

My flight was one of those early morning ones, where you had to be up at the ungodly hour of 4am, to get to the airport in time for the three hour check in procedure, even though you could cut to the chase and enter the First Class Club for this airline and speed through the process in 30 minutes.  

I'd dragged my sorry self out of the very warm but uncomfortable hotel bed, threw on a big sweater, leggings and a pair of red sneakers.   (Yes, leggings-- It was the late 80s.)  My hair was pulled in a ponytail and the only make-up I wore was lipstick-- Not my usual professional attire but I was exhausted. Leaving a day early from the conference, I felt fairly confident I wouldn't be running into any business associates looking like a tired tiny-bopper.  Plus, at that hour of the morning, I didn't really care.

When I arrived at the airport, it was surprisingly empty. Sure it was still dawn, but it was a ghost town in there. As I made my way to the First Class Club, I hoped it wasn't too crowded either so I could stretch out on a sofa and wait the 2 1/2 hours before our flight.

The First Class Club was waiting for us.  Uh-oh....   The airline knew they had mistakenly confirmed the wrong flight time to about a dozen First Class passengers the day before.   They were sorry about the mistake, but we were at the airport 8 1/2 hours before the scheduled departure time.  I nearly wept.   

I was traveling with a co-worker, Harvey, who took it all in stride.  Me?  Not so happy. So we got some danish and juice from the buffet and parked on the far side of the room, well away from all the other unhappy passengers.  

As I bitched to Harvey about the delay, a man walked into the Club and I instantly knew, without a doubt, that my life had just changed forever.  I froze and stopped talking mid-sentence to stare.  I had no idea who he was or what just happened.  All I could do was pray--  Please god let him be American!  

No, it was not love at first sight or even lust for that matter.  It was nothing like that.  It was a strange, make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, kind of overwhelming feeling that life as I knew it was going to be totally different from that moment forward.  My brain raced trying to piece my feelings and emotions together.  

I was not the kind of girl that ever swooned over guys or longed for a man to call my own.  Nor did I need or desire to be "married with children".  That was all the furthest thing from this focused, career woman's mind.  I had my eye on a corner office not a white picket fence. So what the hell was happening?

Harvey followed my stunned gaze to the man across the room. Lucky for me, he knew the mystery man and invited him to join us.   Dear Harvey was a seasoned salesman and chatted him up, which was a good thing, since I was still trying to regain my composure.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me before and let me tell you-- I was freaking out inside!

After a short while, the receptionist came over with good news. The airline was taking us off the airport grounds for lunch. Okay with me, I thought, as long as the mystery man goes.  I'd follow him anywhere.

About ten of us rode a big, fancy, luxury bus out into the country, to a gorgeous villa, where we were fed mountains of food and endless wine.  The three of us sat together, and all through the meal, Harvey was asking probing questions to find out if mystery man was single or married.  Try as he may, mystery man pretty much stuck to business chatter and we knew little about his personal life when we left the villa to return to the airport.

When we finally boarded the plane, mystery man was four rows behind use so I asked-- okay I shamelessly begged, Harvey to get to the bottom of his "availability" while I slept.  I was blurry-eyed by this point (no thanks to drinking wine at 9am) and wanted to catch a nap.   Harvey agreed and I was asleep before the plane took off.

The next thing I knew, Harvey was nose-to-nose with me. I opened my eyes and with much enthusiasm he said, "I have great news.  He's getting a divorce!" 

Harvey babe-- Do I look like I was born yesterday?  Do you know how many times I've heard THAT line from a guy before? Get back there and find out exactly what "getting divorced" means and don't wake me up until you can bring me DETAILS!   I know, kinda bitchy, but I was so tired and slightly hungover.

Bless his heart, a few hours later, Harvey was shaking my arm to wake up.  Turns out mystery man really was getting divorced. He'd been out of the house for well over a year and was just waiting on the papers to be finalized. Thank gawd!   I was a happy girl again.

With a wink, Harvey was gone and got mystery man to sit next to me!  We spent the next several hours talking and laughing, all the while the "life changing" feelings I had continued to grow.   Just before the flight landed, he and Harvey switched back to their original seats.  

Being a salesman, Harvey asked if I'd "closed the deal" and had a date with mystery man back in Los Angeles.  I did not. Damn.

The three of us walked to baggage claim together and said our good-byes like any other business travelers would-- casually and rushed, as we looked for our bags and grabbed taxis home.  My heart sank.

We woked in the same industry, and I had a high profile job, so mystery man would be able to find me-- if he wanted to.  But I wasn't taking any chances.  That night, I mailed  him a note with my business card, telling him how much I enjoyed our conversation.  Let me tell you-- I was sweating bullets the morning I knew he would get that card.  So you can imagine the excitement when my assistant asked if I'd take his call.  Hell yes!

It was the first Monday in November, 1988.  We made a date for that Friday.  Since I'd looked like an exhausted wreck when we flew together, I made a big point to look my best on Friday night. When I opened the door for mystery man, I caught him doing a double take to check that he was at the right apartment.  There I was in my best "big hair, short skirt, high heeled look-- like I said, it was the late 80s.

That was our first date.  Our second date was the next night; third date the night after that.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  

By the way, my life did change in just about every imaginable way.  Swear to god.... true story.  I'm a lucky girl.

Now, if you asked my husband about our life-changing encounter at the Milan Airport he'd simply say --  "She picked me up."

Have you had a life changing moment?

Welcome to TheFiftyFactor  -  Joanna


  1. oh i loved that story...and i've had so many life changing moments i cant keep up with them..but they were either followed by a divorice or a shooting...i like it here..thanks for stopping by and saying howdy..ydg

  2. Oh that was the most adorable story ever! Strangely I fell in love with a guy on a plane from LA to Sydney. He was in the film industry. But I never married him!!

    It was fate - had to be. And I bet your husband is so glad you picked him up and well done Harvey!!! And what can I say about Italy - my favourite place other than here.

    Life changing moments - well its a too sad story to day maybe. I am glad people have been stopping by. Told you everyone would love your blog. Such great writing.

  3. Wow... what a fantastic story! I love the way your write and bring it all to life!

  4. Such a nice sweet story. I'm glad it worked out. With all this hard work, I hope Harvey was your Maid of Honor. :))

  5. What a great story! I can relate to the feeling. When I first saw my (future and now current) husband across the room 26 years ago..I knew. When dad met him the first time, his later response was "you have to marry that young man", even tho that young man was engaged to someone else.

    I totally believe in Knowing It When You See It.

  6. That is such a cinematic story, where the h*ll are my tissues?!

  7. Wonderful story- and very well written. Nicely easy to read and still hooked me, even though I'm still forcing myself to wake up.

    I've had a lot of life changing moments. I wish they were all as wonderful as yours. I'll end up blogging about them, I'm sure.

  8. great story telling
    what airline was that? Took you out to a villa in the country?
    I remember raising hell to just get a hotel room comp'ed.

    My one trip through the Milan airport was not pleasant - almost missed my connection because the Italians don't know or refuse to queue up in lines. Just a mob scene.

    times have changed.

  9. You really can write a story!! That was so interesting and I almost didn´t think it was true. So romantic.
    Off the top of my head I can´t think of such a life changing moment, but I´m ready for one.... :)
    I´ve become a follower!

  10. What a lovely story, talk about fate! Wow. And it's so great how you took the initiative..otherwise you might always have wondered..what if? (like i'd still be doing)

  11. Great story, Joanna - and a great blog!

    Mike S

  12. That was so nicely written. It was like being there!

    I'm so glad that the mystery man now belongs to you. It's a beautiful story to tell.

    Mine isn't a easy to tell but like your story, I found my prince charming. The second time around is even better than the first!

  13. Aw, I love reading real-life love stories. Here's to your continued happiness together!

  14. That really was a lovely lovely story. :-)

    I (unfortunately) have to participate in a fair amount of air-travel myself, and I can completely understand how two travellers could hit things off. Its a pretty lonely existance sometimes, right?

    I love your writing style, so I will most definitely be back!

    P.s - I sincerely hope that Harvey played a significant role in your wedding ;o) xx

  15. What a wonderful and interesting story, I love=love stories anyway. I am glad it turned out the way you wanted it to, it is nice to meet the right mate, makes life more interesting. Have a nice Memorial Day and thank you for coming by.

  16. Hi everyone, Thanks for being so nice and checking out my blog. I love Lilly's for her support and I appreciate yours too.

    So many have asked about dear Harvey-- He was a great friend to both of us and cheered on our VERY long courtship (more on that another time).

    Thanks again for stopping by. I'm visiting all of your blogs too!

  17. What a fabulous beginning! I got the shivers!

  18. I'm here visiting for the first time. Was over at lilly's place and I loved your story about the chocolate chip cookies.
    I used to bake chocolate cookies whenever I would have an open house. Nothing like frresh coffee and chocolate chip cookies to make someone pictue themselves living there.
    What a great blog, I'll be back. come visit me anytime! So nice to meet you Joanna!

  19. Came over from Lilly's place. I don't have a blog but like reading them. This was a truly wonderful story. We need to hear more happy stories like this, particularly in these gloomy times. Thank you.

  20. Ya missed your calling!! You don't need to be in the corporate setting! You need to be in Literary Guild!

    Hopefully hubby will provide lots of food for your creative writing!

  21. Oh my Joanna, I love your story... I will be following your blog!
    Much love, Ann

  22. What a wonderful story, Joanna! I don't know how I missed this one. I love it! I also loved the leggings in the 80's. Is that wrong?



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