The Kiss of Jeff

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress“Sir, what are you doing?”


“Sir, what did you just do?”


“You were kissing the plane.”

“Well if you already knew, then why’d you ask?”

“Why were you kissing the plane?”

The inquisition ends as my fellow passenger waddles towards the tail of the plane. She mumbles the entire way and points at me. This is not the first time the Kiss of Jeff has elicited this reaction.

The Kiss of Jeff was given to me six years ago by my friend Jeff, who may be the only person as neurotic as I am. Six years ago was also the pinnacle of my terror of flying. On the eve of a flight back to the U.S., as I was drinking away my fear (and most of my liver) he lent me his secret to a safe flight.

“I am terrified until I kiss the plane.”

“Until you…kiss the plane?”

“I kiss my hand, then smack it to the plane and say something nice to her.”

“And this works?”

“Am I sitting here dead?”

Reeking as I did of desperation, this was proof enough for me to employ the Kiss of Jeff the next day. I walked up to the plane, kissed my hand, pressed it to the plane and said, “Please get me there.” Upon my safe arrival in Philadelphia I decided that the Kiss of Jeff was now my foolproof plan to staying alive in the friendly skies.

The Kiss of Jeff has modified over the last six years.

For one year I kissed my hand and pressed it to the plane and said, “Please get me there.” But one hellacious and turbulent flight convinced me that the Kiss of Jeff needed to be more meaningful. For if the plane had treated me that badly in the air, then surely it was feeling neglected. So I upgraded the Kiss of Jeff by saying something really nice.

So for two years I whispered sweet words to my airplane. “Oh beautiful darling, please do me right,” or “Sweet baby, you are my sweet…baby, and I trust you to get me there in one piece.” And for two years, things were good. But then there was another horrible flight, and I decided that I was being reckless with my words, using them simply to get what I wanted. Like a callous fool I wasn’t thinking of the plane; I was just treating her like a piece of metal.

So I started naming her.

And for two more years I flew around in Zuzkas (nobody ever died in a Zuzka!), Harrietts, Jolenes, Robins (fly like a bird, Robin!), and Samanthas. I once named her Amelia and worried throughout the entire flight when I’d realized my gaff. I’d kiss my hand, press it to the plane and say something like, “My dearest Samantha, I’m in you today my dear, I’ll be good, I’ll treat you right, so please bring me home.” And then I’d break the threshold and instantly desire a Bloody Mary.

And life was good.

But then, a year ago, there was another bumpy flight. As the tail of Denise (aka UA flight 107) jolted back and forth like that of an angry shark, I sweated into my seat cushion and swore aloud that I would make it up to her and improve the Kiss of Jeff if only she would let me live.

I lived. And then I took the inevitable step that had become so clear: I began kissing the plane. And why not? What was all of this kissing my hand crap? You don’t kiss your hand and smack it against a lady, so why do it to a plane?

And so, for one year I have been whispering sweet nothings to my airplane, calling her a female name and then leaning in and kissing her. Why would someone think that was weird?

The Kiss of Jeff might modify further. In a year’s time I might be reciting lyrical odes to her, or serenading her with an accompanying lute. My kiss might turn into a full on make out session and grope fest. I might read her riddles and dance for her. I may start bringing my airplane jewelry or renting her an apartment on the side.

And as long as I get there safe, the Kiss of Jeff will become whatever it needs to be.

  1. #1 by Andy on July 29, 2013 - 3:51 pm

    Fellow passenger’s thought:
    “I bet you’re the kind of guy that would kiss a plane in broad daylight not even have the common courtesy to give it a reach-around. I’ll be watching you.”

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on July 29, 2013 - 6:53 pm

      Oh Andy, I thought I made myself clear in Boston.

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