Please understand this is not about being “important” or a great pilot (well, actually, I am a great pilot); it’s because I’m a sucker for a sad story and too easily talked into doing stuff. Like that gal in Oklahoma, “I’m jist a girl who cain’t say no” (and, yes, in life that’s gotten me into all kinds of delicious trouble). But then something usually brings me back down to earth — like a rather interesting “wake-up call” last week.
I’d been giving lots of check rides in various flying machines and flying the 180, the DC-3, a couple of Cubs and the “J.” Up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, I was fretting about how to fit in everything scheduled for the day. There was an early-morning breakfast fly-out to Columbus, Indiana; an instrument practical test at Middletown, Ohio; a Sporty’s fly-in at Clermont County Airport; Louis “Moose” Glos’ retirement party at Blue Ash Airport; and a big surprise 50th birthday party that evening for my niece ... and I was hoping to fit Saturday Mass in between somewhere.
After breakfast and chatting with some old DC-3 buddies at Rhoades Aviation, it was on to Middletown for the instrument oral and check ride. Then to Clermont County Airport, where the Sporty’s fly-in had pretty much wound down, and, anyway, I hadn’t won the giveaway airplane. I decided to take the 180 back to Lunken, clean off the major smashed bugs and go home to clean myself up before Blue Ash.
Actually, I was thinking about scrubbing it all. I’d flown a lot and was really tired. They’d never miss me. But I wanted to see Moose, and Andrea’s husband had gone to all kinds of trouble to make this surprise 50th birthday a big deal. I could drop off Moose’s gift at his house; heck, my niece and her family lived just down the street.
So I quickly showered, donned a summery dress, jumped in the car and was racing out Interstate 71 when I saw a big, ugly runner in my pantyhose — with no spares and no time to stop anyplace. I pulled into Moose’s driveway and ran up to the front porch to drop the gift. All was quiet, so back in the car I stripped off the pantyhose, rendering me, um, “bare-bottom” underneath a rather short-skirted dress.
I parked way up the street from the Rosenthals and raced into the house, noting how Jim and Andrea had fixed up the yard and porch with new landscaping and flowers. A big group of people was assembled in the living room, and while I didn’t actually know anybody, some faces were vaguely familiar. Jim must have been in the kitchen, but everybody else was laughing and chatting when I breathlessly, loudly and unnecessarily broke in with my pantyhose story. “ ... Be right back after I go upstairs and find some underpants.”
I vaulted up the stairs and down the hall until I found the bedroom and pawed through sock and underwear drawers until I found something that would fit and pulled ’em on. Time was short, so I ran back down the hall and took the stairs quickly but paused at the bottom step and looked more closely around the room. Slowly a terrible realization dawned on me ... this was not the Rosenthal house, and these people were all looking at me with very odd expressions.
My face went beet red as I realized what had happened. So I blurted out the story — who I was, the problem with the snaggly pantyhose, my desperate need for underpants and how I’d blundered into the house next door by mistake.
“Our bedroom? Underpants from my bureau drawer? But it’s a mess; I didn’t even make the bed.”
This from the lady of the house who, fortunately, was a friend of Andrea’s.
There was a heartbeat moment of total silence, and then the room full of people erupted in laughter. We laughed until the tears ran down our faces and kept laughing as everybody ran next door to be in place for the birthday girl. Andrea was genuinely surprised, and the party was a huge success ... with oft-repeated accounts of the purloined underpants and Andrea’s, well, “eccentric” aunt.
So watch out if you start overextending yourself. ... Nah, I don’t really mean that. Just go ahead and throw paint all over the canvas. Life’s much more fun, and the pictures you paint are wonderful.