After my piece about Doctor-assisted suicide, Steve suggested I write about wills. I started to, but decided two serious posts in a row would shock you. You know I like humour. In the as-yet unpublished post on wills, I suggest getting rid of stuff so loved ones won’t have to dig through all the many useless things we’ve accumulated through the years. Well, I decided to do that myself. What do I have a lot of? Papers… Copies of articles I’ve written, letters from readers, years of work by friends as well as my talented progeny. If you can think of it, I’ve got it.
Going through my files, I found an article I wrote in 1992 which made me chuckle. I had visited China in 1991 and by now, much has changed, so keep in mind this actually happened in 1992. Here’s what I wrote: ‘Calling all virgins” “According to a recent item in the Globe and Mail, ”Virgins only need apply: Air China demands trainee flight attendants be chaste — and no smelly armpits” by Andrew Browne, Reuter News Agency, Beijing, the call is out for virgins. Air China, it seems, is having difficulty recruiting chaste young women to train as flight attendants. Things are getting desperate! “We can’t have our girls fooling around with the passengers,” insisted Hao Yu-ping, director of Air China’s flight attendant school in Beijing.
Chinese Airbus, circa 1992
Virginity is not the only requirement. There are other restrictions as well. Not only do you need to be a virgin aching for only chaste, pure adventure, you also have to have perfectly formed feet. Pigeon toes or what Hao calls “duck feet” are not acceptable, nor “knock knees, bow legs, pimples, warts, moles, dark skin, squints, scars and bad breath.” Smelly armpits, which Hao describes as “a disease” would also disqualify you. Seems lady Hao is an expert when it comes to armpits and has smelled more than a few in the course of her career.
Apparently no one told Ms. Hao that virgins are an endangered species. The only one still known to exist, rumor has it, will never do since she has all the disqualifying features described above, which may be why she has remained chaste. And, how, I wonder, does Air China verify a prospective female attendant’s virginity? Are they interrogated days on end without food or water under a bare light until hunger and exhaustion make them confess? Are families, friends, former teachers and schoolmates called before a tribunal to testify about the applicant’s sexual behavior? Or, is each hopeful subjected to a thorough physical examination? And by whom?
Air China flight attendants, 1992
Then, I wonder, what would happen if a straight-legged, nice smelling, clear-skinned, attractive, virginal cabin attendant meets a similarly blessed young male and (heaven forbid) gives in to desire — in spite of all the rules? Would she then be tossed out a plane window over the ocean to become dinner for a crab? And, how would Hao find out? Will sex spies be planted amongt the passengers to watch for miscreants to give themselves away? Will these spies check for an unusual glint in the eye or a careless, telltale spring in the walk? Perhaps a ready smile when handing a passenger a meal of white buttered bread and a slender slice of preserved meat is a sure giveaway. In any case, Hao has a tough assignment and you, dear readers just might come to the rescue. Are there any virgins still out there? This could be the job for you.’
In 1992 I was surprised that my somewhat conservative, younger editor even printed it, and as for virgin readers, I got no response. Would I lie to you?