Air Blading: Tale of a Dripping Tail
From Steve Hawthorne of St Albans
The narrative I am about to report is a new but not uncommon one. In the course of my adventures I have found to my great relief that I am no lone deviant existing within some erotic vacuum, but one of a rapidly growing subculture: in Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton; the whole world. The burgeoning community to which I have gravitated is one that perhaps you are not yet aware of: Allow me then to introduce myself. I am an Airblader.
Well I remember the first time I laid eyes on the Dyson Airblade. It was September, 2007 and I was returning from a conference in Zurich. The plane had been filled to capacity and, anticipating a long wait for my luggage, I popped into the gentlemen’s room to relieve myself. I washed my hands after the fact and turned with wry trepidation to the all-too-familiar gerbil’s guff of a hand dryer we have all, all of us, suffered to endure. Imagine, then, what delight and awe struck me as I gazed down upon Gatwick’s first Airblade. Recall, if you can, the first time you lowered your own dripping digits into the mouth of this benevolent creature, felt the cool, sudden gust as your fingers passed the invisible barrier of its windstream; marvelled as your skin spread mutinously from its penetrating force, as though some microscopic Moses had raised his arms to part the ocean of your damp flesh. Recall, if you dare, the jarring sense of disbelief as you lifted your hands again, dry as Tutankhamun’s bones. Remember? I don’t think I shall ever forget.
I’d admired Dyson’s products in the past. Who hadn’t? I’d gone so far as to pin an advert for their DC14 Vacuum Cleaner to my bedroom wall, but so far I’d stopped short of developing an actual loving relationship with a Dyson product, or inserting myself into one for my own pleasure. These, nonetheless, were precisely the notions that filled my mind as I paced, dazed and dry-handed, toward Baggage Reclaim that day. Modesty prevents me from detailing the exact destination of my suddenly pulsing bloodstream but from that day to this, I was changed.
Consummation of my new heart’s desire came not easily, nor swiftly. I became a man torn between two worlds, two lives with nary a notion of how to align them; I shunned close friends, socialised no more with the public house hopheads and urchins with whom I seemed to share nothing in common anymore. Instead my evenings were filled with self-revulsion, guilt and bitter recrimination as I pored over tradesmen’s catalogues the long night through. At last I convinced myself that it was mere curiosity that had struck me, that if I fulfilled my nascent desire but once I would be quenched and could return again to the land of men. How deeply I believed such fancies I cannot say; perhaps only enough to comfort myself into melancholic sleep. I took to booking cheap flights, late at night, when the airport toilets would be at their least frequented. I developed a name for myself with work colleagues as a globetrotter. People joked about me keeping a woman in every country. If they only knew.
I blush to think of those early, abortive adventures; long evenings sat in a cubicle, waiting for silence, and when silence came, waiting for some imagined signal to convince me that it would remain long enough for the Airblade and I to be as one, my resolve slowly hardening. I purchased a long coat the better to conceal the act should I be interrupted: I had become the proverbial Dirty Old Man. And yet, the longer I spent within those tiled walls the more I resented the notion. Why dirty? Why wrong? If love such as this was a crime then who was the victim? Surely only my own dignity and that, after all, was my own to dispense with as I saw fit.
I managed at last, of course. It was City Airport. I’d visited daily for weeks and had become familiar with the cleaners’ routine, the ebb and flow of public toilet traffic, and had observed a grace period between the last flight in from Aberdeen and the airbus to Milan Malpensa, around half one in the morning. I eyed the last of the toilet users over the brow of the cubicle wall, jealously cursing his lingering use of the airblade; my airblade. Finally he left and I scurried over, opened my trousers, dangled my potatoes, and wept. The Milan flight had one empty seat that day.
With what spiralling risk I embraced my new lifestyle from that point! I dispensed with the mack along with any sense of shame. For how could this be wrong, when it felt so right? I found my feet, took to experimentation, sometimes sitting atop the airblade and bobbing away like a seagull on the ocean, or else standing atop the contraption, legs apart and slowly lowering myself deliciously into the blade.
That there were others like me I did not consider for some time, consumed as I was with my own jolly. As the months passed however, it could not escape my notice that there were certain regular customers to my various favoured water closets. I would sometimes meet their eyes, and in them perceive a certain furtiveness, a nervous air coupled with a peculiar sense that I had somehow infringed on territory that was theirs. Well I recognised such feelings, for they had flowed through my own being on those occasions when I was interrupted in my sport.
It seems odd, now, that I did not ‘walk in’ on a fellow Airblader sooner than I did: A testament perhaps to the lengths our kind must go to in order to conceal our lifestyle. It was Leeds City Airport; off my usual beat. I was in the mood for a ‘bit of strange’ and bought the ticket on impulse. The man was a seasoned Airbladder, I could tell. He wore a long beige coat much like the one I’d purchased at the outset of my journey, but little good it did him. He had mounted the Dyson as though it were a pony, and was bobbing about in such frenzy that he didn’t notice my presence until I obliged him with a polite cough. The man fell silent. He appraised me gravely. I said nothing, instead passing into a cubicle to allow the man to finish. When I heard the familiar creak of plastic I returned. He made to dash from the scene but I cut him off at the door.
“How’s the air pressure?”
He eyed me with furious fear, but nodded finally.
“She’s got a bite to her.” He told me at last, and was gone.
Perhaps it was merely that the incident opened my eyes to the wider picture, but it seemed that from that moment Airbladers of every description came out of the woodwork. The stiff walks across the terminal floor. Glances exchanged. Endless cubicle vigils. Some are more social than others. It takes all sorts. There are those that let you know that they prefer to ‘go it alone', other more affable types that will compare observations like car enthusiasts, even challenging one to a race. There are those who treat their Dyson with cold, functional detachment, others who develop favourites and scrawl besotted sonnets on cubicle doors. Monogamy is at least as common as faithlessness in our world. There are women among our kind too, though my relations with them are limited, divided as we are by public taste policy-makers. We are a people, a race, and every tint and hue of humanity is represented among us. And we are known, now: Tolerated by the airlines, for we fill their planes with paid empty seats; treated with contempt by airport security and cleaning staff though why, I know not. Many is the time I have been cast heartlessly onto the coach pick-up, my pleas to ‘just finish off’ cruelly ignored.
But I will no longer be made to feel shame. I will not kowtow to intolerance, ignorance, or hate. I’m a Dyson-hugger. An airport apple-bobber. You may call me a Gatwick Dip-wick, a member of the ground-zero club, whatsoever you choose. I am an Airblader, and I am proud.
If you, or anyone close to you has been affected by the issues discussed in this article, please contact me on 0800-0CT0-GRAM