It was about ten o’clock in the morning on a weekday in September, 1979.
Anne Murray and her husband Bill Langstroth; her personal manager Leonard Rambeau and his wife Caron; and my wife Anne and I boarded an American Airlines flight from Toronto to New York, where we were heading for Anne Murray’s appearance a couple of nights later at Carnegie Hall.
We were flying first class, and although that entitled us to board early, Anne and Bill preferred to board last, so the six of us waited until the door was about to close before getting on the plane. Anne MacInnis and I boarded first, and as we paused to hang our garment bags in the first class closet, the stewardess snapped at me, “You can’t hang those there! That’s reserved for first class passengers!” When I showed her our first class boarding passes she relented, snidely saying, “Sorry, but you didn’t look like first class passengers.” Of course, all the others heard this comment.
There were eight seats in the first class cabin; two sets of two on each side. Leonard and Caron sat in the front row on the right side of the plane; Anne and Bill sat across the aisle from them on the left side; and the other Anne and I sat behind Leonard and Caron. Another couple was already seated across the aisle from us.
At that time, the Toronto Star was primarily a late afternoon paper, but it did have an early edition that came out in the late morning. So when the stewardess offered Leonard a copy of the Star, it was perfectly logical for him to ask if it was that day’s paper. “No,” Ms. Congeniality snarled, “it’s tomorrow’s. What do you think it would be?” Again, everyone in the cabin heard her. Leonard gave her a cold stare but accepted the paper without saying a word.
Then she noticed Anne Murray. For the balance of the short flight to New York the rest of us were virtually ignored while Ms. Congeniality spent her time fawning over Anne and Bill. Only when one of us summoned her for basic service, such as for juice, water, coffee or reading material, did she leave their side. And even then she made it abundantly clear that she resented the intrusions.
Just before we began our descent into LaGuardia, Ms. Congeniality said to Anne, “You know Ms. Murray, I’d give anything to get a ticket to your concert at Carnegie Hall, but it’s been sold out for ages. Is there any way I could get one?”
Anne, smiling nicely and nodding in our direction, said, “There are only two people in the whole world that could get you a ticket: Mr. Rambeau or Mr. MacInnis. Why don’t you ask one of them?”
Ms. Congeniality at least had the sense not to bother.