Denise is a very lovely soul and former office neighbor. For many years, when we had down time at work, we would share stories together. In consulting, there is a lot of travel and after 26+ years I’ve had my share of interesting travel experiences. Denise has heard them all and suggests I share a few of them with you. This has nothing to do with cancer, except that it is very therapeutic for me to share these with you.

Several years ago, when Patti and I lived in D.C., I had to attend a conference in San Francisco. When I returned after the conference the flight left San Francisco for Cleveland, where I had to change planes for Dulles. It was totally a non-experience flying from SF to Cleveland. Truly uneventful.

The explosive couple

When I landed in Cleveland, I had about an hour before the next flight. Now, if you travel often, you realize that for every airport there is a busy peak time and a downtime. Most airports I travel, it is very busy from about 6 am to 9 am and then it gets fairly quiet until shortly after noon-ish, then travel picks up again. That was the case in Cleveland when this event took place.

After deplaning from the SF flight, I took a seat at the next gate for the flight to Dulles. The gate was very quiet; for a long time I was the only passenger in the area. After several minutes of waiting, I noticed a few people coming down the walkway to the gate. Lo and behold, it was the singer James Brown, his wife and several hangers-on, handlers, bodyguards, if you will.

I didn’t pay any attention to the group except to notice that the handlers kept a distance from the singer and his wife, who had a burr under her saddle. She was very ticked off about something. How did I know? Pretty easy. Body language. She had her arms crossed, wouldn’t look at her husband, tapping her toes, sank into her seat. She was hot about something and he was just ignoring her.

So, for a few minutes there were about eight of us: his group and me in the waiting area. All of a sudden, coming from out of nowhere, women began to show up at the gate. I have no idea where these women came from. They would approach Brown one-by-one, and he would dance with each of them for a few steps. Now, mind you, there was no music playing anywhere, except possibly in his head and in the heads of his dance partners. I kept looking for Allen Funt to pop out of the woodwork and yell, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!”

Now this sporadic dancing with these women made Mrs. Brown even more upset. The arms crossed, the fuming and the tapping of the toes began to break the sound barrier.

The singer continued to dance with these women in the gate area. The handlers must have been used to this because not a one approached the women to give the singer some privacy. I gathered the soul singer must have enjoyed this.

Any way, after several more minutes, we boarded the plane. This plane did not have a first-class cabin, so the soul singer and his wife, sat at the two bulkhead seats on one side of the aisle. On the other side of the aisle across from them were a couple of young, college girls. The handlers moved to the middle, back part of the plane for their seats.

She was hot, and not in a good way!

We took off and were flying to Dulles and the flight attendants had not yet begun to offer beverage service, so the aisle was clear. All of a sudden, the singer’s wife, jumps up out of her seat and yells very loudly at the two college girls on the other side of the aisle, “Well, if you want to f*** him, go right ahead and do it now!” With that loud, explosive outburst, she  turned and stormed down the aisle to the back of the plane. Everybody looked up and could not help but notice something was up.

The singer did not move. He did not go after her, but the handlers began to get very nervous in their seats. Flight attendants went after her in the back of the plane and another attendant or two went to speak to the singer. Again, nonplussed, he did not move and continued talking to the two college girls.

Flight attendants then began the beverage service and the singer’s wife continued to stand up in the back of the plane.

As we approached Dulles, flight attendants tried to persuade Mrs. Brown to take a seat. She would have nothing of that! She was not going to obey anyone’s orders to sit. She was defiant to any suggestions from the flight attendants.

It was the only time in my career I have seen someone standing, not sitting, when the plane was landing.

Upon landing, everyone disembarked except for Mrs. Brown, who waited on the plane and was promptly arrested by Security. Mr. Brown was nowhere around when his wife was taken off the plane in cuffs.