Saturday, September 6, 2008

Captain Vain
Hagai Cohen

Captain Vain was a very handsome and impressive young airline Captain.

He was so good looking that the advertising department of our airline decided to use him in many of the company’s advertising campaigns. He also featured in many short commercial movies, a co production of the airline and the state of Israel tourist department. The fact that his face was pictured everywhere, made his ego grow to an immense size, and as the Hebrew expression goes - "the urine went to his head."

Captain Vain was seen strutting around like a peacock in heat, showing how beautiful and how important he was. And all for one purpose: to impress the ladies.

Captain Vain would chase every female in sight; of course, he would do it only when his ever-loving wife was not around. When she was present, or within a one-mile radius, Captain Vain would transform himself from a gallant peacock into an ugly duckling and would become as obedient as a poodle.

In an airline there is always a fresh supply of young women and Captain Vain never stopped trying. There was of course a ‘class’ gap between the almighty Captain and the young women and, from a distance, the women seemed to be impressed by the uniform and his apparent dignity. As one woman described it to me: “Many girls fantasize about him, of course before knowing him."

The reality, however, was totally different. Despite the fact he was forever around young women, his success was limited. The fault lay, according to a knowledgeable woman, in his approach.

She told me he would say: "You must try me, I am the best," or: "It may be your once in a lifetime chance to be with someone as good as myself," or: "You don't know what you’re missing," or: "Ask your girlfriends they'll tell you who I am." Well, many girls, after undergoing his arrogant courting, did consult other ladies who had experienced his modus operandi and the information was spread all over the airline. I was told that the study of Captain Vain’s techniques was included even in the cabin attendant’s ground-school curriculum - a fact that made all the girls avoid him altogether.

So it happened I was in Amsterdam one lovely morning and we were promised the weather would be a perfect 24 degrees Centigrade, with low humidity and a light breeze.
"Great weather for a motor scooter excursion," I suggested to the crew at breakfast. They all agreed.

The necessary arrangements were quickly made, and all the crew of our Boeing 707 Jetliner hit the road.

We were five women and four men and the Captain of the group was none other than our notorious Captain Vain.

It was the perfect idea for a perfect day; we drove around Amsterdam on all those special roads for bicycles. We stopped for coffee in a windmill converted into a restaurant. At a picturesque fishermen’s harbor we had ‘fish and chips’ and a beer.

It was perfect for most of us but not so for one young cabin attendant. Captain Vain used his clumsy and insulting technique on Shoshi. It was my first opportunity to observe the big operator at work. Vain used courting tricks from elementary school: like a boy who, when wanting to show his attraction for a girl, pushed her into a corner, pulled her braids and hit her with a ruler.

This foolproof technique was upgraded by Captain’s Vain to an adult version. He chose to show Shoshi his affection by cutting in front of her scooter and making her stop abruptly. It was clear by the Captain’s laughs he was having a great time. The poor girl fell down several times and in one case she even bruised herself. It was apparent that Shoshi was tormented but was afraid to confront him. His actions, by all standards, were sexual harassment.

Captain Vain’s behavior was the only cloud over an otherwise lovely day. He gave me and the rest of the crew, a very bad taste.

My interest in the ‘Vain versus Shoshy’ affair would have been minimal under normal circumstances, but I felt that my interference might arouse some interest.
"There is something in it for me," I said to myself.

I had a long-term dislike for Captain Vain. Some two years earlier, we were involved in a flight emergency; we lost one engine and all the hydraulic system. It was a positioning flight (no passengers) so captain vain decided against my opinion to fly all the way to our destination.
It was a wrong decision as a crippled airplane fuel consumption is way above normal. We landed safely but with fuel reserve below the legal minimum.

The chiefs did not like it. We were questioned separately. Captain Vain proved a spineless, slimy creature.
He tried to blame me and the engineer for all his wrongdoings. "They gave me the wrong information," he said. "They weren’t in the cockpit. I was left alone with no support." Captain Vain did not write an official complaint. He knew it would not hold up in any real investigation. I never forgave him.

Under the circumstances, it was understandable I would try to help Shoshi. More than anything I wanted to puncture his over-inflated ego. To be frank, it took me almost all day, to figure out a plan. Then, when I had an idea, I needed Shoshi’s cooperation and I was not at all sure she would give it to me.

In the evening, after returning the scooters, I took Shoshi aside and said: "Look Shoshi, I know it has not been a good day for you, and I am very sorry. However, I have an idea how to get back at him and how we can enjoy a sweet revenge. I am going to suggest we all go to dinner together and I want you to come with us. Please accept my invitation and I promise you a most pleasant evening."

At that time, I was not ready to reveal my plan to Shoshy. As it happened, Shoshi was willing to trust me and agreed to come. "Use all the tricks to show how beautiful you are,” I told her.
An hour later, we met in the lobby, all dressed casually except for Shoshi. She wore an evening dress, nice jewelry and delicate perfume. She looked lovely.

Shoshi attracted some good nature compliments that made her feel uncomfortable. I moved close to her and whispered in her ear: "Once we are out of the lobby and on the sidewalk, take my arm. We’ll walk slowly behind the group. Every time you see Vain look backwards, be ready to whisper in my ear. Make it look like an authentic lover’s whisper."

Shoshi was a smart young lady. It took her a split second to comprehend the plot. She played her role to perfection. She took my arm and pulled it very firmly towards her. Every time Captain Vain or any other member of the group became curious and discreetly looked backwards, they found her smiling and whispering close to my ear. It was quite evident Captain Vain was getting more annoyed and upset by the second.

At the restaurant when we sat around the table, Shoshi of course sat next to me. A few glasses of wine later, an innocent bystander would have been certain he was witnessing the birth of a love affair. I myself began to doubt it was still a role-play. Captain Vain, who had been "working" on Shoshi all day long, looked puzzled, confused and nervous.

At the table, in between pieces of Balkan mixed grill, Shoshi told jokes, became the center of attention and announced officially that I was her date. On the way back, Shoshi took active control and gave events a new twist. "No more walking behind the group," she said to me. So, we joined the rest of the crew on the walk back the hotel. During those twenty minutes, Shoshi informed whoever was interested, how happy she was. She told us she feels so wild, she had enough energy to play all night! She said many other things too, just short of saying in plain words: "I'm horny."

Upon arriving at the hotel, she excused herself from the rest of the group and pulled me towards the hotel bar. Over a drink in a dark corner, we discussed the evening’s events with much laughter. We conspired and planned also for the final blow.

Next morning, after being informed by the front desk that our offended Captain was already having his breakfast, we entered the restaurant hand in hand with loving, satisfied smiles stretched across our cheeks. When Vain saw us, all the blood drained from his face and he looked about to faint.

After a pause, Captain Vain protested: "What do you two talk about all the time?"
Shoshi was on the ball and replied immediately: "We don't talk all the time!" She drew out the “all,” smiled and looked at me with lustrous eyes for approval.

Captain Vain was certainly sorry he had asked the question. With anger in his face and tone and without referring to me by name, he said: "How do you do it"? Choosing my words and speaking aloud, ensuring I was heard over the entire restaurant,i said:

"Well Captain Vain, if you really want to know, it's nothing more then the supremacy of brains over looks."

His chalk faced turned vermilion. Throwing his napkin on his plate, he rose and walked out of the dining room. Never again did he approach another female member of any crew I was in!


No comments: