* Names have been changed to protect the married with three kids.
In my second senior year of college, I decided to go to Atlanta for Spring Break with my friend, Kerri Jackson. How I miss the ruckus and public spectacle that was Kerri Jackson in the ’90s. A girl who could keep pace drinking alongside any Fredonia State hockey player. And live to tell about it. She might fall out of a papasan chair when it’s over, but she would live. And she was blissfully unconcerned (read: she didn’t give a shit) what anyone thought about her antics.
It was a long weekend of the typical 20-something tomfoolery, including speculating what life would be like after graduation, wondering if we would keep in touch, did I think my boyfriend was the one (spoiler alert: he wasn’t). Eventually, it was time to head back to Buffalo. We got to the airport and made it through security in about 37 seconds (it was the year 2000, the days before TSA got serious). With unexpected time on our hands, we headed over to the newsstand. I’m grabbing gum, water, Cosmo, and I turn around to see Kerri holding an issue of Playgirl up in front of her chest with a wide-eyed grin. My knee jerk reaction was to slap it out of her hands and then slap her a little bit. But instead, I just quietly whisper-screamed, “OH my God, put that down. NO. Put it back!” Kerri Jackson had never met a boundary she didn’t mind crossing or someone’s comfort zone she didn’t mind testing. She didn’t try to talk me into it. She just bought it. Fine. Whatever. She also bought two panda masks. I don’t remember why she bought them, but we found a use for them.
So we get to our gate and grab a couple of seats. Kerri tries to take her dirty magazine out of the bag but I tell her to cool it; she can look at all the wein she wants once we are on the plane. It was a night flight, so my thinking was that the plane would be dim and much more conducive to looking at pictures of naked dudes. As the boarding process begins, I notice, can’t help but notice, two guys walking/stumbling/waddling up to the gate. Two red-faced gentlemen, one of whom is carrying an open Budweiser can in each hand and the other, who is about 300 pounds, wearing a dingy, holey T-shirt that says “Who’s your Daddy?”, and clearly, neither of them have heard of sunscreen.
“Who’s your Daddy?” Not you, Sir. Ew.
On the plane, we find our seats, a set of two across from a row of three seats. And as we are getting settled in, who sits down in the row across from us but Budweiser and this friend Big Daddy. Big Daddy takes the window, Bud was in the middle seat. The aisle seat was occupied by a sophisticated Asian woman in a smart pants suit who, for no real reason, I just assumed wasn’t with them (or maybe that’s racist, maybe she was with them, they could all be friends, what do I know, maybe I’m just a judgey asshole).
Flight attendants do their checks, the flight takes off, they come around with the drink service, and now I am officially out of reasons to stall Kerrie’s unveiling of the magazine of man meat. I told you, this girl gives zero shits. So she would have had zero problems just sitting with a Playgirl up in front of her face, so there’d be no mistake about what she was reading (sure, “reading”). I, on the other hand, was a total prudie pants (I wasted my twenties trying to be marrying kind) and so I insisted that we be much more inconspicuous. We agreed to hide the Playgirl inside the in-flight magazine.
So there we were, huddled together over a copy of the in-flight magazine, whispering, giggling and pointing, saying things like, “Why would they take a picture of him crouching like that?” and “I must say, the upper thigh of a man, visually? I have no use for.”
“Hey, so where are y’all girls from?” Budweiser asked in an almost stereotypical southern drawl. Oh, well look who woke up from his beer-soaked nap.
“Buffalo.” Not exactly true for either of us but it was an answer with no further explanation necessary, as we weren’t trying to engage this gentleman in conversation. We were busy.
“Aw, man! That’s cool, that’s cool. Were y’all just visiting in Atlanta?”
“Huh? Oh. Yeah. Visiting our friend.”
“Alright, alright, alright.” Don’t be fooled. This southern gentleman was no McConaughey. “You know something?” Budweiser asked while pulling his copy of the in-flight magazine out of the seat pocket in front of him. “My magazine seems to be missing some pages.”
He starts flipping through it casually. “Yeah, you girls seem to have some pages in your magazine that ours don’t.” (I know that’s poor grammar, that’s what he said).
Suddenly, Big Daddy comes alive. “Yeah. I’ll tell you what. We can see a reflection of what y’all are looking at in your window.”
I turned my head and, sure enough, reflected in the dark window next to me were pictures of penises. And all varieties, too. Black, white, hard, soft (I’m not sure why we’re photographing those), circumcised, uncircumcised (I’m surprised those made the editors cut. Pun not intended, but a good one).
I die a little bit inside.
The Asian woman turns to look at us for the first time during this whole exchange. Up until this point, the Red Faced Twins were literally talking over her head while she tried to act like none of this was happening.
“Yeah, Girls, I was going to say something about that.”
I die a little more.
What did we do? The only thing we could do, cringe with total embarrassment, awkwardly end this conversation, and shove the magazine under the seat in front of us. Of course, when the shame and complete mortification wore off and we were in the car back to campus, we laughed our faces off. And I, for one, have never purchased a dirty magazine since. I can’t speak for that woman of questionable morals, my dear friend Kerri Jackson.