The price for food in the Las Vegas airport are obscene. $11 for a Whopper meal at BK? Give me a fucking break. After wandering though a maze of slot machines and overpriced kiosks, I finally stumbled upon a reasonable option; Popeye’s Chicken. $9 for a 9 piece nugget meal with mashed potatoes, a drink, and a biscuit seemed to be about the best combination of price and subsistence I was going to find round these parts. As I’m waiting to place my order, a 9 piece nugget meal comes up on the counter and this extremely sexy woman picks it up. My brain tells me she is probably a little older than 40, but she looks fantastic in her knee high boots and tight jeans. She possesses the mouth of a french actress and the straight natural hair of a flower child. She looks familiar but I can’t put my finger on who she resembles. We make eyes and smile, and she takes her food back to a table in the food court. After I receive my food, I find a table across from her so that I have clear access to admire her beauty. I eat and pretend to people watch in between bites, but most of my energy is spent in quick glances in her direction. We catch each others’ eyes every now and then but only for a split second. I’m trying to play it cool.
Just then a rather large man with gray hair sits at her table, which partially blocks my view of her. He seems older than her. Must be in his 50’s, and from what I gather is her husband. Bummer. But it makes sense I guess. He oozes privilege and money and a big dick perhaps, so I could see why he would be desirable, but I can’t help but feel that he is actually kind of boring and lame and that this woman is not truly happy with him. At least that is what I tell myself.
As I finish my nuggets, the man hands the woman a couple bags of luggage and she stands up from the table. Maybe she’s going to the gate? Maybe to the bathroom? As the man continues to work on his meal, the woman leaves the table and walks towards the concourse and past my table. Just as she gets to the point where she would disappear forever from my sight, she shoots this look directly at me. Me. This look like “I know what you want. Come get it, young buck.” It is a fucking intense moment I nearly choke on my last nugget.
Maybe a minute passes and I finish my meal and decide to follow her path, or what I at least think is her path. As I walk towards the concourse, I pass an area under construction. Scaffolding and wires and dry wall for 50 yards. I pass a bathroom with “Under Construction” yellow police tape blocking the entrance. I imagine the woman waiting for me in there. Waiting for me to throw her against the wall and have my way, like that one episode of Six Feet Under. But I don’t enter. I continue to circle the concourse examining all the gates for her. But no luck. She is gone forever. I imagine I could of had a real Vegas moment with her. But that look… That look was all I needed.
The girl at the Spirit Airline ticket counter for my flight back to Wisconsin was this Russian girl named Anastasia. She was striking. And spoke with enough of an accent that my heart couldn’t help but melt every time she looked up from her keyboard to ask another question about my trip. Our interaction was routine enough I guess. Our small talk never crossed the line into an open flirt, yet I sensed that there was something underneath the formal niceties, that perhaps she also found me desirable. She smiled a lot. And not the phony customer service smiles I have long been accustomed to giving and receiving. No, her smiles and the glimmer in her eyes seemed genuine and sincere. I managed to catch a quick study of her figure on the short walk to the area where luggage is measured and determined to be too big to be considered a carry on. My mind wandered as I thought of everything but my luggage. Maybe she was into Dostoevsky? Would her Dad hate me? What if she listened to DJ Tiesto? Could I satisfy her sexually? Are Russians too high maintenance?
After determining I would have to pay an extra $40 dollars for my bag, my check in was complete. I handed over my luggage and said my farewell to the lovely Anastasia. As I walked into the concourse I questioned if I should have asked for her number. Was she just being nice cause it’s her job? Or was there something real? I walked up the Jamba Juice and asked one of the cashiers for a pen. I scribbled “Can I have your #?” on a small note and put it in my pocket. I walked back to the Spirit Airline ticket counter but to my dismay a long line had formed, and Anastasia was in the middle of a small rush. After wrestling with myself for nearly 10 minutes, I gave in to the coward in me. I turned my back on her and threw the note into the trash and headed for my gate. The familiar feeling of having something die inside began to creep in.
A week later I was back in Portland, still lamenting my lack of courage with Anastasia. Somehow, the small interaction with her had managed to consume my thoughts throughout the holiday. I decided, no demanded that after work I was going to hop on the Red Line and head back to the Airport so I could ask for her number. “The time for being a pussy is over, Mike,” I told myself. So after my shift, I did indeed hop on the Red Line to the airport. I felt a sense of nothing to lose during the ride. Today I had courage. I was being a man, taking action with my life. So what if she said no? You can’t help who you love. Make no apologies for who you love or how you feel. All you can do is what you can do, and I was sick of waiting for life to happen. I was taking life or fate or whatever you want to call it into my own hands. I was finally making a fucking effort. It didn’t matter that when I arrived that the ticket counter was closed and Anastasia was nowhere to be found. What mattered was that I could come back any time. What mattered was that the part inside of me that usually dies finally dropped its’ balls.