The training process lasted a total of six weeks and most of the time was spent in a classroom of some sort, whether it contained a mock-up of the new L1011 jumbo jet or or a mirrored room full of Elizabeth Arden’s new Fall colors. Rule #6 was designed to align our faces to model Cybill Shepherd, the pin-up girl of the 70’s. I guess every era has it’s poster child.
Our airline’s beloved American Idol was posted adjacent to the life size mirrors covering the walls of our classroom . The new stews arrived in a timely manner and rushed to their assigned station where a glossy Mauve box the size of a mini cocktail tray lay before them. We were all into our third week of instruction and everyone was well acquainted with each other and their State of being. I was seated next to Miss Georgia who dove into her box thinking it contained a creamy nougat or two, and after lifting the lid, immediately slumped into disappointment as she faced her assortment of Georgia Peach hues….
Each of the make-up boxes that were presented to us were pre-picked based on our skin tone, eye, and hair color, by a company that originated in 1911. I guess I was thankful that by the time 1970 rolled around Elizabeth Arden was sold to a pharmaceutical company and women no longer applied freshly picked berries onto their lips and cheeks. I’m sure Ms. Arden was rolling over behind her Red Door when her palette’s now featured the added Lab-Rat Lavender and Carcinogenic Cocoa as the headliner colors.
My pretty in pink box held colors suited for the Brown-eyed Brunette, who couldn’t fall farther from the Cybill Shepard tree. I watched as a prescribed make-up artist ran around the room blaring cosmetic counsel to make sure we all stuck to the Airline code and represent the Stepford “Stews ” Standard, and not think outside our laminated pink box.
The colors illuminating from my Box screamed an assortment of Moody Blues highlighting a crystal blue persuasion of eyeliners, while undertones of deep purple gave me a whiter shade of pale. All this Beauty in a Box repertoire was accompanied by Marvin Gaye crooning over the scruffy sound system:
What’s Going On…tell me what’s going onnn…
The next step was to tackle our hair. I watched as each member of the class of ’72 received bangs. It was a time somewhere between late chic Hippie shag and early Farrah Fawcett feathering. The last thing I remember is the stylist grabbing my ponytail wielding a giant pair of scissors and me sobbing into a pre -moistened towelette causing my freshly applied make-up to run. My new doo was now light and feathery carrying less weight. I guess minimal hair presented a larger allowance for extra carry -on luggage for the passengers.
When noontime finally rolled around I skipped lunch and ran back to my room. I raced through the lobby looking like Baby Jane Hudson after she finished her audition to Edward Flagg. Too late… too late……too late to call for help… I thought to myself ,as I was writing a letter to daddy to send money for a wig….
I never broke Rule 6……..unless washing my face after class constituted a crime of fashion.
It was lucky rule number seven that nearly did us in:
There were seven deadly weigh-ins; one per week topped off with a final one just before graduation. The first six were random checks in order to keep track of who would fit through the emergency exit and who would get their fat ass stuck in the window, causing passengers to reroute……
By the sixth week our class was as thick as thieves which began a tribe of neighborhood watch at The Villa’s. The one girl, Miss Georgia, presented a problem with weight gain and squirreled packets of Hostess Twinkies in her suitcase. On her sixth weigh-in she was three pounds over weight and could face banishment if she did not lose that cream filling by graduation.
There was a lot of buzz roaming around the Stew Zoo with regards to Miss Georgia’s weighty situation and none of us wanted a member of our class to fail, especially because of her love for yellow spongy cake hosting a shelf life of 25 years. We were a band of ingenue’s sticking together like the lavender varnish on our polished hands. There was a secret meeting to be held around the pool after dinner hour to discuss Miss Georgia’s cuisine habits. They thought posting a 24/7 shift of weight- watchers by her side to monitor her Twinkie intake might secure the issue, but that could heighten the Airline Gestapo’s suspicion and a few of us still felt the sting from breaking rule number One. So……after little consideration of the outcome, and by unanimous vote, the decision to break into the class weigh-in room and rig the scale won by a landslide.
Come morning weigh-in, the entire class registered three pounds lighter………
After completing the six week training for this eastern airline, a few of us went into Miami to celebrate and tip the scale of success for the graduating class of ’72. As we approached the restaurant I noticed a large picture of Cybill Shepherd smiling from a drug store window as she touted her Cover Girl make-up. I walked over to study the poster and laughed hysterically as I noticed her eyes were fixated on the props piled up next to her:
spread the humor….
(There will be no more “parts” to this as I have decided to continue my saga into a “diary of a mad flight attendant..featuring many not for prime time adventures”…..CW).