Before he can ascend “high above the mountains,” Donald D’Haene has to get to his assigned seat.
High above the mountains, far across the sea
I can hear your voice calling out to me
Brighter than the sun and darker than the night
I can see your love shining like a light
And on and on this earth spins like a carousel
If I could travel across the world
The secrets I would tell
—You and I, Air Canada theme song
Did you hear the one about the gay couple who flew United-Continental Airlines and discovered their dildo was removed from their luggage, smeared with foul-smelling lubricant and taped to the top of one of their checked bags?
They were “shocked” and “horrified” and believe the handler “maliciously” and “intentionally” humiliated them.
Thank goodness my partner and I leave our “toys” at home. At our age and fifteen years together, we worry more about remembering to bring our respective hearing aid, cane, passports and the right milliliters of liquids!
I’ll bet you’d never think something like what happened on the US airline could happen here.
One time Maurice and I used our Air Miles and took an 8:50 a.m., 43-minute Air Canada flight to Toronto. I was on the phone up until the last minute so we boarded separately—in fact, I was second last—but it didn’t matter as we had preassigned reserved seats together. When I finally walked down the aisle of the plane, Maurice was still trying to fit something in the overhead compartment. As I stopped at our seats, I heard the stewardess’s voice: “Sir, can you sit at the back of the plane.”
Notice the punctuation. Yes, said like a statement, not a question. I quickly glanced at my ticket.
“No, I have the right seat number. I’d rather sit here.”
“I’d rather you sit at the back,” she continued in an imperative tone.
“Why?” I asked in exasperation.
I was not a happy air miles flyer but I didn’t want to make a scene!
“Okay, then!” I retorted in frustration. Picking up my carry on bag, I took two steps towards the back when I was interrupted by her voice again.
“Is there some reason you want to sit up here?”
Oh, other than the fact that was my assigned seat? Even though the entire plane could hear this conversation, I kept my cool. “It’s okay.”
“No, tell me why you want to sit up here!”
“You don’t want to know. Trust me.”
“No tell me!”
Remember the old EF Hutton commercials, “When EF Hutton talks, everyone listens.” There was dead silence on the entire plane until my always-silent Maurice finally spoke.
“He’s my partner!!!!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were together. Of course, you can sit with your partner.”
“That was weird,” Maurice said under his breath.
“I know. I don’t feel like coming out this early on a Tuesday morning!”
That’s right—in Canada, you don’t need a dildo strapped to your luggage to find yourself outed on a plane!
I barely finished my sentence when another Air Canada staff member climbed on board and asked, “Is there a dog on this flight?” We looked for a dog. Someone found one.
“Is Paris on board?”
“Maurice, is this a joke or what!”
The steward continued, “No Paris. Hmmm. The dog’s coming off!”
From the back someone yelled, “The dog is going to Calgary.”
Another: “Paris is going to Ottawa.”
Were we on an episode of Paris Hilton’s The Simple Life and didn’t know it? It certainly felt like The Surreal Life at the very least! Next up, our stewardess asks us, “National Post? Globe and Mail?”
Instead of choosing, I asked cheekily, “Wonder if you’d like to read one of my columns?” I happened to have one on bullying with me! She took my column and read it at the back of the plane.
After reading the column, the stewardess couldn’t have been more attentive: asking where she could read more of my columns, and delivering drinks and snacks galore!
Maurice says to me, “You’re unbelievable!” You betcha—I worked it.
As for that other outed couple, United-Continental offered them some kind of gesture of goodwill as well, which they refused. In fact, since then, United Continental says they conducted a serious investigation and they found nothing that supports the couples’ dildo-shaming claims. The couple are suing and say they will defend themselves in court.
Wonder if their star evidence, the dildo, will be presented in court? Whatever their outcome, and notwithstanding our experience, Maurice and I continue to fly. We just make sure we board on time, together and continue to leave any such little “friend” at home.