After 6 weeks of dating, I got engaged….what was I thinking????

It didn’t take me long to change my mind. After gobbling down the cheese and inhaling the free bottle of wine, I was dressed up and ready to go out. The stalker scare at the French hotel pool had me freaked out for like 2 hours but once the wine kicked in, I was all of a sudden brave again and couldn’t wait to go dancing. Then just as I was heading out the door, the hotel phone rang. A hot wave of fear came rushing over my body as I picked up the receiver. Maybe it was the pilots checking to see if I wanted to go out or maybe it was the mystery creeper who sent me the wine and cheese.

‘Bonjour’, I said trying not to sound American to maybe throw him off only to hear Dan on the other end. ‘Hey Carrie, did you get my surprise at the pool’? What??? The man I had been hanging out with back in Laudy for like 2 weeks went through the trouble of calling the hotel, tracking me down at the pool (in France) and surprising me with wine and cheese, wow, what a doll!!!! We had a good laugh as I told him about my day. He apologized a million times for freaking me out which I insisted was not a problem because what he did was super romantic. I could tell right away my feelings for him had gone from just a guy to pass the time with to now a man who I could possibly take seriously.

Once I returned, every day I wasn’t flying around the world, we would spend together. After about a month, it was time to ask him what he did for a living. At first I figured maybe he was like one of these guys you see in the movies who had a secret agent man job where they can’t really tell you what they do or what if he was just some self made millionaire who managed to make enough money to retire young? Either way, it was time to find out. It was very strange that he dressed impeccably every day, but never went to a job. The answer was not what I expected and certainly not attractive, at least to me back then because I was still very insecure and had no idea what to look for in a man. Apparently his Grandmother had passed and left him a trust fund which he was now living off of. Really, that’s it, that’s the big story? Dan was like 38, blew through money like water and expected this money to last him another 50 years?

I’m a worker and even if I inherited tons of money, I’m still going to do something I love to keep busy and feel good about myself. So to me, a man who just takes that kind of money and doesn’t do something wonderful, or useful with it or his time, just isn’t sexy. To others it may be a dream come true but to me, back then and even more now, at 46, what I consider hot is a man in constant motion, always keeping busy with his mind.

He then said that he was working on a business idea with a buddy of his but it was on hold at the moment. At the time, I believed him because, one, he was so sweet and spoiling me and two, I had kind of fallen for him. In my heart I wanted it to be true so I figured what the hell, we’re not married and had just started dating so I’ll just keep it casual and see what happens. Besides, I was quickly discovering that the people I had been meeting in S. Florida were super fake and materialistic. Finding real friends was hard in that town and we had fun together.

But to be honest, we didn’t have much passion, he didn’t believe in recycling or taking care of the environment, my dog wasn’t really his thing and when it came to handy work, Dan only knew how to dial someone to come and do things for him. But you know women, in our minds; we can change a man and mold him into what we consider the perfect guy. He already had a good base so now I was on a mission to change everything about him and the poor guy had no idea.

About a week later, we hit one of those outdoor strip malls to do a little shopping and in the parking lot was a Jared’s jewelry store. Dan thought it would be a good idea to stop in, he wanted to buy me a sort of promise ring to show how he felt for me, which I thought was really cool. At almost 31 years old no one had ever asked me or even considered asking me to marry them. If you had read my past blogs you’ll remember that I was a crazy, jealous girlfriend who couldn’t handle her alcohol well so I could understand why I was still single.

Well that promise ring turned into an $8000 engagement ring…..yep, the next thing you know, I was getting married. All of the things about him that bothered me seemed to disappear and just like clockwork, I was staying with a guy because he wanted to be with me, not because he was my perfect match or because I was in love. The girl who was afraid to be alone was making the same dating mistakes from her past. I had no friends, no family and had been away from home so long, I had forgotten what it was like to be part of something, to be loved so why not marry him, I was now in my 30’s and it was about time.

During all of this courting I had managed to fly my 13 year old niece in from Indiana for her spring break. One day we were at the beach when I met the coolest chic and right away I could tell she was just like me. Cathy wasn’t materialistic, loved to go out, be fit, have fun and had was completely normal. I was so excited to have a friend. She lived walking distance from a really cool strip of bars and restaurants by the beach and since I didn’t like to drink and drive, said I could totally crash at her place after we went out. So that night, we hit the strip, had the best time and ended up meeting tons of cool people who also hung out there. She and I would just sit on her balcony for hours, sipping wine and talking nonstop. Cathy had recently been through a terrible tragedy and was still in mourning from the ordeal and like me, only had a friend or two, but not really anyone she could hang out and party with. I was the perfect distraction for her and she was the perfect new bestie for me.

As the weeks went on and the wedding planning began, for whatever reason, I began to sabotage the whole thing. Starting fights, questioning his loyalty, picking out everything that bothered me about him. At one point Dan looked right at me and said, ‘Carrie, it’s me, I’m a good guy, why are you doing this?’ At the time I didn’t know why, but in hindsight, I see now that he was all wrong for me and with my new bestie in tow, Dan was becoming obsolete. I was now engaged to a man that I didn’t love and had no idea what I was I going to do????

Sunbathing Topless is Stressful!

Dan seemed to be a perfect match for me. He loved to drink wine, eat good food, had no kids and was big into traveling. Neither of us were fans of cooking so if we weren’t eating out at the finest restaurants, we were ordering in expensive Italian. His condo by the beach was immaculately clean, his Mercedes was big and comfy and he dressed impeccably every day, but he didn’t have a job, so where was the money coming from…?

During the first week I didn’t ask, well, I guess I should say, didn’t care. It was just nice to be spoiled and have someone to hang out with.  With no friends, life was lonely therefore he couldn’t have appeared at a better time.  All of the women I had met while venturing out alone were gold diggers with plastic and silicone parts and right out of an episode of the real ex housewives of Fort Lauderdale. Plus if my flight attendant job went well, I would be busy flying all over the world anyway, in my mind, he was temporary. On top of that, like clockwork, I was dating someone who had no idea about passion or how to take care of a woman.

It had been 2 weeks since my last flight so hanging out with him seem to pass the time when finally, they needed me. We were heading to Nice, France I and would be gone for about a week, which meant the pilots and I would stay in a hotel and hang out until it was time to fly back. What’s even better is that it was against the law in Europe, unlike America for the jet company to rent the plane out while we waited. This meant we could chill by the pool having cocktails at noon or stay up all night at the club without having to worry about being called in for a flight. Not being a savvy traveler yet, still more of an unpolished, typical AmearKIN, I had not bothered to learn any French, not a word, which certainly explained the dirty looks and bad service I’d received.

Going out alone was not something I was used too and when I saw someone eating by themselves I would always feel sorry for them. So for the first few days I made sure to eat with the pilots but I could tell that they wanted to ditch me after to so they could venture out alone.  It was time for me to put my big girl pants on and head out solo and I’ll tell you what, it’s the best feeling in the world. The first night I told people that I was at the club with a friend and that she was off dancing with someone. The second night I said I was meeting people there but by night 3, I was a pro. Going out alone is awesome and to this day, I do it all the time. Although I look back now and wonder how I am still alive. I was a big drinker and would get wasted all the time which made me a target. Years after I stopped flying the movie Taken came on and it really scared the heck out of me. I was that dumb girl telling cab drivers, strangers and other drunk people that I was there alone, or what hotel I was in, just stupid things you don’t do, ever! My angels were working overtime those first 3 years of traveling on the jets.

The hotel we stayed in had this amazing pool on the roof with a bar, waiters and an incredible view. As I was sunning it up, there were women all around me topless, as if it was no big deal. Of course to them it wasn’t, but back in the States, it was unheard of and even though it was common in France, it felt very shameful to me. Plus the owner of the jet company was with us, he had his pilot’s license and would often fill in on our trips so I couldn’t imagine him or the other one seeing me half-naked, it just felt wrong. Then one day there was a middle-aged, French woman with 3 kids hanging out. She was topless and her young kids were climbing all over her, bare breasts and all, how could that be? Most children in America would die if they saw their mother’s breasts, let alone hug her with them exposed, yet it was no big deal to these children. That was it, I decided it was time, I was tired of tan lines, all I had to do was keep an eye on the entrance so if my crew happened to appear, I could just cover up or flip over. I’ll tell you what, it was awful, I felt exposed, naked, embarrassed, weird and like everyone was staring at me. Half the women at that pool were topless so if they could do it, I could too! I was so proud of myself thst I set the timer on my camera and took a photo, lol.

topless sunbathing

I was just getting used to the idea of an all over tan, even dozing off a bit completely forgetting to watch for the other crew when I heard a man’s voice say, “Miss Grant”! OH EM GEE, my hands had never moved so fast!!! I covered up my size B parts then flipped over faster than lighting. I could hear the waiter chuckle a bit as he proceeded to let me know that an admirer wished to send over a bottle of wine and a selection of cheeses and did I care to have it sent to my room or would I prefer to enjoy it at the pool??? Exactly why I didn’t want to take my top off to begin with!!!!

Here I was in a strange Country, seemingly alone and some weirdo at the pool was watching me. He didn’t know who the person was just that the front desk called, described what I looked like and told him my name. No way was I going to stay there, I politely requested he send it to my room, grabbed my clothes, scanned the pool to see if anyone was looking in my direction and ran to my room keeping an eye out to make sure no one followed…..To make things worse, my cell was not international so there was no way to call for help if someone did attack me. With only 2 more days to go before flying back, I sat in my room contemplating whether I should just stay in until we left or be brave enough to head back out again….

Drunk Go Kartng in Cannes France…

The very thought of what was about to happen would only be one you would read about in a book or see in a movie, but it happened and it was the first of so many more, all over the world…..for years!
In my mind, I didn’t comprehend any of it! Rushing your passport so you can take the wealthy across the ocean on a private jet and now waiting for your car to arrive, with a driver….in Nice France, who does that? I was 30, it was 2002 and I had never been out of the Country before and maybe had visited 5 states

in the US.

My driver was amazing. He was French, had a full head of silver grayish hair, a thin scarf and a suit. It was obvious that I hadn’t had many drivers so he thought it would be nice for us to take the scenic route. Our conversation was incredible and he would chime in from time to time to make sure that I saw this historical building or that famous monument, it was a dream.

When he asked me about my schooling, I was a bit embarrassed. I had to drop out of college my senior year, move home and attend Indiana University NW, which was an extension near my hometown. But then I decided to follow my college sweetheart to Georgia and then to chase another boyfriend to Orlando, so I never quite finished. Once I started heading south though, I was in and out of colleges trying to somehow earn enough credits to one day graduate.

For whatever reason I blurted all of that out! Laurent pulled over, turned around, paused for a moment and said, “You’re in the School of Life now, those credits mean nothing here”. He winked, turned the corner and in we went to a real live Boulangerie to have a café and a French pastry with his long time friend who owned the bakery.

As we hugged goodbye, I jokingly said “I promise to write about you in my book one day”, I teared up a bit and I think he did too.

The wonder and awe of the drive quickly faded as I turned around to see masses of people getting into giant luxury busses and I was supposed to meet the client in all if that, with no cell phone, or as they say in Europe, ‘mobile’.

Panic set in as I can hear Mom in my head worried because I was in a strange country where I didn’t speak the language and had no phone….. I’m tough right, or at least I told myself that as I cruised past the people heading towards the entrance and then there he was, easy peasy. Froggie handed me a T-shirt to wear with company information on it while explaining to me why I was there as we boarded one of the busses. Turns out he sponsored the whole event for hundreds of people and we were headed to the best part of the day.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. He rented a huge indoor go kart track where the food and endless bottles of wine were all chilling on huge beds of ice decorated with shellfish, sushi, appetizers, the works. Wait, so why am I hear again….to help he said and while you’re doing that, eat and drink as much as you like while riding super fast go karts all night for free! Now I practically grew up in an arcade walking distance where I grew up in Merrillville Indiana and we never played anything for free, I was in heaven.

When I say super fast, I mean those babies could fly and everyone was ramming into each other. He t-boned my kart hard on a curve and I swear my neck snapped. I was mad and although I wasn’t the fighting drunk anymore, I was competitive and he would pay for that. 3 glasses of wine later and I was Richard Petty on a mission, I got him too, swear I heard his neck snap.

It had to be about midnight and there were a handful of us left cleaning up and saying good night, including the boss. The establishment owner called us a cab and then insisted we wait outside as he needed to close up for the night. The first car showed up which seemed like hours later and only had room for everyone but him and I so the driver called in another for us. We were cool with that, Froggie was just telling me a story about his young daughter anyway.

When the van pulled up full of people, I was devastated. We were drunk, tired and had now been waiting a good hour for a ride and the one that showed up, had no room. Within a blink of an eye, my guide, the man who was supposed to be looking out for me, opened the door, squeezed into the back seat, threw me a $100 bill and yelled, “Call another taxi”. Call another taxi???? And go where????? I was staying in Nice, a good 40 minute drive and a $100 bill was not going to cut it, I was in Cannes France, it’s expensive there!!!!!!!!

Oh wait, there’s more!!! I had no phone, it was dark, I was alone and there were no cars to be seen ANYWHERE!! WTF?????? And then I remembered that the Captain had written down his hotel information just in case I needed it. They screamed back over the loud music that they would send another cab as I watched their taillights slowly fade down the hill. It wasn’t long before my ride came and good thing because I was fuming mad and couldn’t wait to get a hold of him.

Anyone within an ear shot of that hotel had to of heard me beat on his door while yelling his name. This went on for a good 2 minutes while his assistant, who had the adjoining room tried to brush me off through the door saying to go home. That wasn’t happening and they knew it so in I went! There were a million things I wanted to say but I was representing this jet company and really wanted them to call me again so thank goodness something grabbed a hold of me and shook me back to my senses.

He was standing as far from the door in the room as possible kind of laughing but also trying to be serious because he knew he was wrong and I was really upset. I went nose to nose and just said, “What if that was your daughter left there?” After that we sat up for hours drinking wine and getting to know each other and both promised to keep all of this from the pilots.

The next day everyone boarded the plane as we head to our 3rd stop, Amsterdam. The pilots and I greet the guests at the top of the stairs so it was crucial for me to keep it professional in order for them not to suspect a thing. Froggie kept trying to break my zone as I strolled up and down the aisle serving drinks and dinner, but I maintained. As we landed, he slyly handed me a piece of paper with his hotel address on it with a note that said, ‘party with us tonight, be there at 8…’