October 27, 2017

"I suppose you could say that I became the world’s oldest, tallest, bearded stewardess."

Said Donald Bain, quoted in his NYT obituary, about his idiotic 1967 book "Coffee Tea or Me?" Bain, who died at age 82, wrote all sorts of things under various pseudonyms (including the "Murder, She Wrote" series, as "Jessica Fletcher").

I was 16 in 1967, and I remember "Coffee Tea or Me?" being a best-seller and all the leering jokes about "stewardesses." It was the humor of the segment of the older generation that considered itself sexy. Of course, I didn't read the book at the time. At the time, I would have read books like "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are," by Alan Watts.

But I was curious enough about "Coffee Tea or Me?" to put it in my Kindle. It made me think of Harvey Weinstein and the way he initially reacted to the allegations against him by saying, "I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then."

Sample passage from "Coffee Tea or Me?":
You make up your own mind whether your captain really does have the right to all your services. Captains realize that the longer a girl flies the line, the harder she’ll be to conquer. Stewardesses who’ve been around will generally have latched onto one particular captain or have acquired other interests. So those on the make stalk the new girls....

It was on Rachel’s third flight that she was introduced to the “manual flush” routine so popular with cockpit crews where a new girl is concerned. It was a light flight and dinner had been served when the little light flashed in the galley indicating that service was needed in the cockpit. It’s an unwritten rule that the junior girl handles the cockpit chores, unless a senior girl has something going up front. This day, Rachel was the one. The other girls had evidently sworn off crew members for the week and simply pointed to Rachel. She nervously pranced up the aisle, fluffing her dark hair and straightening her skirt. The flight engineer patted her fanny as she slid by him, a gesture Rachel assumed was normal cockpit procedure. Besides, she wasn’t about to be labeled a square so early in the game. She stood silently, in back of the captain’s right ear, his head just reaching her chest....

“That little button in front of me, the one farthest away, activates the manual flushing operation. Every twenty minutes, I want you to come forward to the cockpit and flip that button. You’ll flip it and hold it for forty-five seconds. Got it?” “Yes, sir.” “Better give it a try now, Rachel.” The only way Rachel could reach the button was to lean over the top of the captain’s head. She strained to get her finger to the switch, her breasts melting comfortably around the captain’s ears....

Most new stewardesses are put through the manual flushing routine. Some come back to the galley cursing the captain. Some, embarrassed, say nothing. Some can’t wait for the twenty minutes to pass. Good thing all Rachel’s attitude was that it could have been worse. Another favorite trick is to hoist a new stewardess up into the overhead coatrack before passengers have begun to come aboard. The crew then sits and watches the girl try valiantly to get down, tight skirt and all.
She wasn’t about to be labeled a square so early in the game....

The book has illustrations. They're like this:

38 comments:

rhhardin said...

Today it's entertaining to address them as "waitress" when you need something.

rhhardin said...

They were boys and girls together for an extended time and did what boys and girls do.

Interpersonal relationships.

They worked it out.

rhhardin said...

Does Althouse allow that stewardesses often got what they wanted.

In fact air turbulence is not the attraction of the job.

You get travel but that quickly wears thin, as any business traveller knows.

The sex does not.

rhhardin said...

Some Air France stewardess even today was fired for taking her top off in the cockpit.

rhhardin said...

Of course that's toned down a lot with female pilots up there, now that they've made the planes easy to fly.

rhhardin said...

And the stewardess thing is more drama queen stuff now.

rhhardin said...

I'll have some of your TWA tea.

- joke of the time

rhhardin said...

Stewardesses were there to convince men that it may be dangerous but it's worth the risk.

Michael K said...

A wonderful novel by Neville Shute called "The Rainbow and the Rose." and is about an airline captain and a stewardess.

I won't describe the plot as it has a surprise plot twist near the end, It is one of my favorites.

When I was in college, stewardesses were all single and quite a few were pretty hot, in several respects.

One of my crew once was dating a TWA Stew and I mentioned that, in Clavell's novel about The Iranian Revolution, called "Whirlwind" there is a mountain bandit who has a TWA stewardess in his harem. She told me she knew several stewardesses who had disappeared in the Middle East where she flew to. They were told to never go shopping alone. She flew to Egypt.

Unknown said...

Wow, 8 in a row from rhhardin. This topic must excite him.

I for one await Laslo and the Stewardess in the Purple Dress. Bound to be full of turgid prose.

--Vance

rhhardin said...

The point is to move the guardrails on the topic out to where the answer might be found. Althouse starts very narrow.

Bay Area Guy said...

Yes, Stewardesses used to be hot, as a general rule.

Like most things, though, the Left (probably unattractive feminists) put an end to this, and now we have stewardesses in all sorts of shapes, sizes, genders and ages.

"Hotness" tends to be disfavored by the Left.

rcocean said...

Even as late of the 1970s being an airline stewardess seemed to be a high quality job. I know several girls who wanted to be one**.

Of course, even in the 70s, flying was a fairly uncommon thing - as was international travel.

** = I think both of them became business execs, if I remember my HS reunion right.

rcocean said...

Stewardesses are actually there for safety reasons.

Female comics used to make jokes about them. Large Jealousy factor.

The Godfather said...

As a mere passenger, I enjoyed the era when all stewardnesses were attractive and (MOST IMPORTANT! to me) female. I have friends who were flight attendants in the later era, and I'm sure things were better for them, and for their husbands and children at home. And I have to admit, I really don't need help with my fantasies. Still, one can imagine the Mile High Club, can't one?

rhhardin said...

That's a good illustration. It shows what you can't say out loud today.

rhhardin said...

Remember guys think of women two ways. Gorgeous pussy or hairy hole. They can do either one. They're familiar with the switch in point of view. Inside that switching there is lots of room for humor, which will necessarily be guy humor.

Women will not understand it. For all their love of complexity, they don't know about that one.

Unknown said...

IIRC, CToM was essentially *fiction*. The author had no special knowledge of airline personnel operations, so while I don't doubt a lot of sexist stuff went on, you can't quote the book for particulars on it..

rhhardin said...

The gorgeous ditz, which is what the illustration is, has both the before and after. Nice to screw and afterwards probably a bother, until you want her again anyway.

rhhardin said...

For a woman, the gorgeous pussy is how you get the ball rolling. Work it into a relationship that survives having sex.

rhhardin said...

Now the question is, what if what you can't say out loud today expresses a truth.

buwaya said...

Once, not that long ago, I was flying with our gang to Manila. Philippine Airlines of course. Son, newly of an age to notice, notices the stewardesses and is impressed.
"They really are old-school here, huh".

Ann Althouse said...

Apparently, old-time stewardesses is rh's favorite topic ever.

FullMoon said...

"I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then."

Many old movies have the woman resisting a kiss and trying to break away but then melting into the man's arms and enjoying herself. Like it was a normal and common reaction. May explain why these old Democrat men have this attitude.

pacwest said...

My wife was a flight attendant for 10 years. Believe me when I tell you you don't want to call them a stewardess.

wild chicken said...

What I can't day out loud is, oh how awful. Because then I'd sound like some skaggy feminist.

But I am rather glad thise days are (mostly) gone.

D said...

I had $200 cool ones down that it would go for 25 posts before you'd make any comment.
Double winnings if it got to a point that a certain A Hathaway was mentioned.

rcocean said...

"Apparently, old-time stewardesses is rh's favorite topic ever."

We know he owned an airplane. Maybe an "old-time stewardesses" came along with it.

Memories...like the corners of my mind... misty something memories of the way we were...

Big Mike said...

Then the book Coffee, Tea, or Me was fiction? There go my adolescent fantasies!

flophouse philosopher said...

I'm with Big Mike. I never until this day knew that Coffee, Tea or Me wasn't a real-life memoir. I read it a half dozen times as a teenager and was sure I wanted to be an airline pilot.

I just checked and I find that, yes, it is still on my bookshelf.

320Busdriver said...

It sure has been a treat working here.

"And as the five women attend throbbing Virgin America launch events in Florida, fundraisers for the rich and famous and pool parties in Beverly Hills, their adventures may seem like a throwback to the 1967 novel "Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses.""

Night Owl said...

"Remember guys think of women two ways. Gorgeous pussy or hairy hole. They can do either one. They're familiar with the switch in point of view. Inside that switching there is lots of room for humor, which will necessarily be guy humor.

Women will not understand it. For all their love of complexity, they don't know about that one."

"The gorgeous ditz, which is what the illustration is, has both the before and after. Nice to screw and afterwards probably a bother, until you want her again anyway."

Now who can argue with that?

Night Owl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Night Owl said...

At the risk of sounding like a judgmental prude, two thoughts about gratitude popped into my head after reading this thread: 1) I need to go thank a 60s feminist-- thank you, Althouse-- and 2) thank God we have sexual harassment laws.

veni vidi vici said...

Looking back at that era's sexual culture and comparing it to today's, is it any wonder they had much bigger families with more children back then?

John said...

Michael k,

Good to see a fellow Norwegian here with an excellent book recommendation.

For those who don't know, nevil Shute Norway was an primarily an aeronautical engineer. Many of his books have aviation as a theme.

No Highway is another where an"air hostess" is a key character. Made into a good movie with Jimmy Stewart.

John Henry
Founder Nevil Shute Society

Now at nevilshute.org

John said...

Marlene Dietrich was also in no highway but as an actress not the air hostess.

Can't remember who played her

John Henry

Will Cate said...

The cartoon art by the great Bill Wenzel I'm guessing you recognized from your father's Playboy mags? ;-)