The year was 1982.
I know that’s a dramatic way to start a story, but roll with it.
Until that month, Mum had been an air hostess (“hostie”) for TAA, flying domestically in Australia. It was still a time when hosties were expected to be of certain weight, height and look. Hot, basically. They had to be hot.
Though Mum had recently quit her hostie job, she was using the final month of privileges to travel around the globe on a flight-attendant ticket issued from her airline. Those privileges meant that she was often bumped up into first class by other airlines, because that was the helpful, we’re-all-in-this-together kind of attitude everyone had back in the early 80s.
Which is how, on Jan 2nd 1982, Mum was seated at the back of first class, flying the LA-Denver leg with a spare seat beside her.
A screen on the flight was showing some American football game. As it turns out, it was a tape of the Rose Bowl game played on Jan 1st 1982, a huge game between rival football colleges. Mum couldn’t care less. She sat at the back of first class, reading her book.
A big, good-looking man was standing up at the front of the flight, talking to people, commenting on the match, telling jokes — a bit of an attraction up in first class. Everyone on the flight seemed to know him, except Mum. He spotted her, spurred on by her oblivion, and worked his way to the spare seat beside her.