I almost beat Tommy Lee Jones at poker….

After one more failed attempt to find Cameron’s mobile, her assistant and I headed into the lobby to deliver the bad news. As we walked in, the pilots and the coolest actress ever were standing in a line just waiting to hear the news. Even though I knew I did not have her phone, it felt as though I was still guilty of something. You know that feeling when a police car is behind you on the road and even though you are doing nothing wrong, you start to panic, like you did do something??? That was me!! My day went from an epic high being told by Cameron Diaz that I was pretty and super cool to her now thinking I was still that street kid from my past that could clean out a K-mart without them ever knowing they had been robbed.

She was cool about it, kind of annoyed but cool and gave me her assistant’s number to call if it magically appeared. I spent another hour in that plane, searching the same corners over and over and the only thing I found was one of her hair extensions. For whatever reason, I chuckled and tucked it in my pocket. Obviously sleeping that night was rough and first thing the next morning I texted her assistant with trembling hands to find out what had happened. She simply said, ‘Oh we found it’ and that was it.

Since Cali is such a long flight from Florida, the jet company had us wait there a few days to see if they could book a paid charter back home or somewhere else for that matter. Like clockwork I was out every night drinking my face off and trying to find a boy to hang with. And like clockwork, I found one. Mr. Politician was quite young to be serving a term in office but after getting to know each other I soon learned that he was still at the bottom on the barrel trying to work his way up. He wasn’t really my type, which at the time was typically someone with 6 pack abs who was movie star hot and would most likely treat me bad or cheat on me.

Mr. P was just an average guy with an enormous personality who made me laugh hysterically every time we hung out. He had a car too which was like gold to me since in this particular California city, the jet company would always put us up at the airport hotel, a good hour’s drive to anything fun or cool.  This meant my one option for excitement was the lobby bar and even though I was making good money, it didn’t seem reasonable to pay a taxi to go anywhere else. And although I didn’t know it at the time, we were about to see each other quite frequently since this city was a major stop for celebrities.

After about 4 days of hanging out and waiting for the call, we finally received our next charter. We were to pick up Tommy Lee Jones in Texas and drop him in Miami. Wow, in the almost 5 months of working on the private jets, we had flown to Europe at least 3 times and this was now my 3rd or 4th movie star. Eight months prior, I had never even been out of the Country and movie stars were just those tiny people on TV, like when they shrunk the loud kid in Willy Wonka. This was so exciting!

When he boarded the plane, alone, he sat down, asked for a beer then kind of kicked back and said he just wanted to chill. We had about 3 hours to Miami so I offered him a deck of cards, showed him how to work the TV and mentioned that I would be back in bit to check on him but if he needed anything in the meantime, to let me know.  This jet was my favorite because instead of me having to chill on the tiny jump seat behind the pilots that hides in the wall, I had a huge, plush recliner with a tray and my own little TV. About 4 minutes after having settled into my seat, Mr. Jones pops his head in and says, ‘You know, I would like to play some cards…you know how to play poker?’ At this point I was beginning to feel a bit used to seeing these famous people so in a casual tone I responded, ‘Sure, but you’ll probably kick my butt.’  He headed back as I opened two small bags of peanuts to gamble with, poured each one in a small bowl and grabbed him a fresh beer. Here I was, sitting across from Tommy Lee Jones, 4 feet from his face, casually chatting about life and playing five card stud. He loved betting with those peanuts, said it was a clever idea. For about the first 2 hours he never seemed to crack a smile, instead he was very serious, but candid and joked a lot without ever laughing at his own punch lines.

Being the competitive soul that I am, I was determined to make him smile and I like to think that I’m pretty funny. Then it happened, he asked me about my parents. I proceeded to tell him how cool they were and how I learned my hard work ethic from them. Then I said, ‘you remind me a lot of my dad and he’s good looking, so that’s a compliment.’ He was looking down at his cards extremely focused on his next move when all of a sudden he paused, looked up at me with one eye while raising his brow and let out a chuckle with a faint glimpse of a smile!!! Whooooo Hooooo…..was what my brain was yelling but my face remained calm and for the last 40 minutes we continued our card game while laughing and carrying on the whole time. As he left the plane, he shook my hand and thanked me for a wonderful flight.

I barely had time to comprehend what had just happened when the pilots informed me that for our next flight, we would be picking up Lindsay Lohan….

I swear I didn’t steal Cameron Diaz’s cell phone…

Now that I had met another new best friend, I wanted to be single. But poor Dan had just spent $8000 on a stunning engagement ring, even though we had only known each other for 6 weeks. The many things about him that bothered me were now even more annoying, but he was so sweet, what was I to do? The fights kept coming, all provoked by me. All of a sudden I was questioning him about what he did while I was out of town and why he didn’t answer his cell phone when I was around. To be honest, I was legitimately jealous and couldn’t believe it. I had thought the past was behind me, that maybe it was possible for me to date without being crazy jealous. There was no way this man would have cheated on me and I see that now, but in 2003, at 31, I was still insecure. My body wasn’t terrible and I was a cute girl, fun, outgoing and obviously brave having picked up and moved from Indiana all the way to Florida, so why did I still think every man was cheating on me?

One night, as we were eating take out, I started arguing with him over something dumb I’m sure. Somehow I managed to make him think it was his fault, when in reality, it was me, I was manipulative and evil and I knew it, but I wanted out and didn’t have the heart to tell him. So I stormed out of his place leaving the ring on the kitchen counter and headed out to go party. He couldn’t believe his eyes and to this day, I still feel a bit guilty for what happened!!

My new friend Cathy lived just around the corner but was out of town so I headed straight to the coolest spot around. Shooters was this huge restaurant/bar on the water with plenty of slips for boats to dock and they did, tons of them. This place was always packed with heavy hitters hanging out at the bar and on Sunday’s they typically held a bikini contest by their pool. This was the perfect spot to go, one because I wanted to meet boys, but also because it was so crowded I figured maybe no one would notice I was alone. At this point I had only been flying for a couple of months and while on the road, most nights, was still clinging on to the pilots to hang out with. I did venture out once in a while alone but once I walked into this place, it felt like everyone knew I had no friends.

There was no way anyone could have known I was by myself but my insecurities had the best of me so off to the bathroom I went to figure out my next move. As always, I was chatting with the bathroom attendant lady spilling my troubles to her about leaving my fiancé and feeling weird about being alone when the most magnificent girl came busting out of the stall and in my direction. She overheard my conversation, was also there solo and wanted to know if we could hang together??? My savior Farah was blonde, fit, super fun, brave and loved boating. She grabbed my arm and off we went, like balls of fire through that crowd. My goal was to hang at the bar but not Farah, she was determined to get us on one of those yachts…and she did!!

Within minutes, we were drinking for free and mingling with the elite on an 80 foot boat. I had never been on one before and was just in awe of how beautiful it was. After a few hours Dan had been erased from my memory, I was the happiest single girl in Ft. Lauderdale and now had new bestie number two! To this day, her and Cathy are two of only a few friends that I’ve met in the 15 years of living in South Florida who are real, honest and genuine.

Life could not have been better!! I lived in a huge house on the water for dirt cheap, was making $300 a day flying around the world, single and had two girlfriends that loved to go out and party…and that we did, anytime I was in town, until my flight with Cameron Diaz almost ruined everything. We picked her and 5 other people up in Miami and were taking them to California, about a 5 hour flight. She had just finished filming a movie so the plane was overflowing with luggage from their long stay. What was so cool about her was that she had no entourage, no body guards and seemed to have driven herself there in a regular car, not a limo or a chauffeured vehicle. When Cameron boarded the plane, the first thing she did was run right over to me and asked if Carrie Grant was really my name? She thought that was the coolest thing and then proceeded to tell me how pretty I was and that I reminded her of a good friend, which was a compliment because her friend was awesome.

In my head, blasting loudly were the words OMG, OMG, OMG but on the outside I was cool as a cucumber while pouring everyone champagne. She was the most normal celebrity, fame had not ruined her or made her feel as though she was better than anyone else and at that point, it was the coolest day of my life. There was one boy with the group, not a body guard or someone famous, just a friend and as everyone was falling asleep, asked if I wanted to play cards to pass the time. I was so happy because with nothing to do since they were all passed out would mean that I would have had to sit in the cockpit on the most uncomfortable and smallest seat ever. It was located just behind the pilots, pulled out of the wall and was definitely not made for comfort or long distance flights.

Once landing, Cameron and her friends all hugged me as if we had know each other all of our lives. Since there were so many bags, the crew and I helped to take everything inside and then loaded them up in her SUV, which once again, she drove herself. The pilots were busy making our hotel reservation at the front desk and I was heading back to the plane to get it cleaned up when all of a sudden we heard Cameron yell, ‘I can’t find my cell phone’!!! ‘No problem, I’ll go and search the jet’. About 20 minutes in, there was no phone to be found anywhere on that plane and I began to panic. Her assistant was now searching with me and in so many words managed to get across that I was the only person in that fuselage the whole flight that they didn’t know, which meant they thought I stole it. To make things worse, she knew my name, and if Cameron wanted to, she could smear my reputation across Hollywood….

 

 

 

 

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…’