I don't watch reality TV, nor do I really give a damn who's next up to have their life filmed for millions to tune into. But judging from the reaction on my Blackberry, my BFF Mel was about to have a coronary.
"Kendra? KENDRA? OMG i LOVE her! Tell her I love her!"
I glanced up at Hugh's former girlfriend and her husband, Hank Baskett, who had surprised the hell out of me by slumming it back in the sardine-packed coach section of the plane. I think she liked me because I had realized who she was and not made a total ass of myself by screaming, passing out, and then demanding her autograph.
Kinda like BFF Mel was currently doing on the Blackberry.
"Have to turn of my phone now" I messaged back. "But I'll try to get you a surprise."
"I hate you" was the response.
"So you don't want a surprise?" I asked.
"I love you." BFF Mel shot back.
We were in Albequerque heading to Phoenix. I was leaving the writing conference I'd been at and Kendra and Hank were on their way to catch a connecting flight to Palm Springs. I was sitting in a stranger's seat who had been kind enough to switch with me after I realized the first row came without purse privileges, and totally caught by surprise when the teeny blonde with gargantuan sunglasses sat down next to me.
"Respect!" she said with a smile.
I just blinked and tried to figure out if we had gone to high school together.
"Why do I know you?" I had asked.
She looked at me, almost daring me to figure it out with the smallest of smiles tugging at the corners of her mouth. And that's when it hit me. I was sitting next to a celebrity that I really could only say I recognized thanks to People magazine covers about her recent pregnancy and foray into motherhood.
Which is when I realized I was an old woman at 32 next to Miss Pretty and Perky.
Kendra ended up switching seats with the man who became my new neighbor, and was just across the aisle now, playing Uno with Hank until the flight attendant's made everyone behave for take-off. And I admit it. Even though I can only claim to having watched maybe five episodes combined of her former and current shows because you all know the choice between sleeping, writing, and all things Social Media is already hard enough, I was still slightly fascinated. So I pretended not to stare.
I've lived in Tucson long enough to finally get over my heart-stopping fear of turbulence, but I still stroked my fingers across my religious medallion every time we hit a rough patch on the way up to our cruising altitude. And there were many. With each and every shaky dip, I marveled while not staring of course at the scene unfolding across the aisle.
Did you all know Kendra is deathly afraid of flying? She had folded herself over with her head buried on Hank's lap as she dug her nails into his skin, and reached out flailing for reassurance whenever the plan shook. I knew she was terrified, but had to smile. Hank simply covered her body with his while stroking her hair and holding her hands, all the while telling her she was going to be okay. At one point, Kendra looked up and asked him if it was over, but quickly grabbed on for dear life when the plane rocked again.
So I reached around my neck and unclipped my medallion, waiting for Hank's eyes to catch mine.
"She needs to hold on to this more than I do right now."
And she did.
When the captain finally declared it safe for the crew to serve our one free beverage, I passed over a notebook with two business cards because I am nothing if not shameless. One was for Kenda to keep. The other was for her to sign for BFF Mel. And she was cool enough to do both.
Every now and then I heard her tell Hank that she would really rather rent a limo to drive the rest of the way. And he'd nod his head, waiting for her to decide if she could handle another flight. Then he fell asleep with his head on her tray table, and she with her head on his back.
Landing was her undoing. As we began to descend, the plane hit one of the roughest patches of turbulence I've experienced to date. Hank woke at the first signs of trouble, prepared to calm her. And as she disappeared into him, I sat back and closed my eyes with a smile.
I don't read the tabloids. I don't care about reality TV. But when Kendra and Hank handed my medallion back and thanked me for telling me how adorable they are together, I was a little surprised to hear the media is claiming they are divorced over a sex tape scandal.
I can't predict the future. But right here and right now?
They're in love. Like, the disgustingly cute kind of love.
Remember, I don't give a rat's ass about what she does on TV. I just know that what I saw on that plane gave the old married woman in me renewed hope for young love.
Disclaimer #1: I am sitting back now and waiting for the barrage of hits related to Kendra, Playboy, Hugh Heffner, and Hank Baskett. Don't worry, I'll still love you all when I'm famous, too.
Disclaimer #2: I'll hand this over to you, BFF Mel, when you show up on my doorstep for that visit. Just call when your plane lands.