"Her shakes will always cause a stir."
"She’s the kind of woman who found my PPK under her pillow and didn’t bat an eyelash."
While many rumors abound, we'll set the record straight. She was born the love child of Hungarian nobleman and scientist Count Sergei Von Teleki and Polish resistance fighter Krystyna Skarbek during the chaos of the cold war. Inga spent most of her childhood years in Innsbruck, Austria. She excelled in math and science in school, no doubt in part to her father’s influence and her frequent snooping in his laboratory. Her mother was far more practical—believing the body and mind should be honed. By the time Inga was in her teens she spoke six languages and was accomplished in biathlon and figure skating. The family travelled often: Bermuda for snorkeling, London for shopping and strange ‘work related’ excursions with her father to the American Southwest. That exposure to other cultures gave her a sense of adventure that inspired her to make travel her vocation.
She hatched her plans after finishing school in Paris. A protracted argument with both parents (who would have rather seen her in the sciences or professional athletics) led to a bit of ‘youthful rebellion’ and she disappeared into the Berlin underground scene for a year. Her new found bohemian friends exposed her to nightlife, art, theater and the cabaret. She excelled in acting and singing but the life of an actor in Berlin’s underbelly didn’t hold enough sunshine or excitement for her tastes. On her 21st birthday she walked into a Pan Am office and declared her intention to be a stewardess.
Within a month Inga was serving cocktails in first class flights between Templehoff and Heathrow. Every flight was an adventure, each destination more exotic than the last. Her passport quickly filled with stamps as she trotted the globe by air. One month she’d skin dive in Okinawa, the next she’d ski Aspen or climb ruins in the Yucatan. She still managed to find time for romance. There were a few serious flings: an Air Force officer from Florida, and professional card player from Budapest, and a very public affair with a lesser noble from Monaco but no man had really reached her heart.
Then a certain gentleman with a clipped provincial English accent ordered a martini from her on a London to Moscow red eye. The twinkle in his eye and the pale scar in his eyebrow caught her interest. There was something about this tall dark stranger that suggested intrigue. She was proved right as her two day layover in Soviet Russia became one of the most memorable two weeks of her life.
“You can imagine I was naïve or fooling myself, I was young but I knew exactly what I was doing—well up until that monster of a SMERSH agent, the one with the steel teeth came crashing through the window of our dacha. I had to hit him with a samovar can you believe it? I can tell you; that was a date I will never forget—nor ever regret.”
Settling back into her old life was difficult. She had to admit, hang gliding in Sao Paulo just didn’t hold a candle to the trill of a high speed car chase over a frozen lake dodging rocket fire. “You just can’t show a girl a great time like that then go back to the status quo, even your everyday is more exciting than most. James must have felt something similar because I kept running into him over the years. There is an old saying about circumstance and happenstance, nothing is really left to chance. By the third time our paths crossed there was no doubt it was intentional. I’d be off to Singapore or Haifa and there he’d appear, with his black diplomatic bag and sharkish grin—a bit of a schoolboy but always a gentleman. If it wasn’t for constant interruptions—you know ninjas, KGB agents, criminal masterminds bent on world destruction we might have really made something of it.”
She finally left Pan Am to seek adventures on her own. She spent a year ‘chasing winter’ skiing around the world. She gambled in Reno and Vegas. She ran with the bulls in Pamplona. She climbed Kilimanjaro. She eventually opened a bar in a sleepy suburb of Denver. “Bartending it’s like travel--people from all over drop in to say hello and tell their stories. You get to know them a little, a select few you get to know very well.” She was finally putting down roots and working with her hands for a living. Skiing wasn’t far away and the airport was International and she had plenty of frequent flyer miles should she need them. She was content for once. But fate intervened. Her parents passed away suddenly and she inherited a small fortune but had no idea what to do with it, or herself. There were charities, investments, her father’s numerous inventions and patents and accounts to be settled but nothing could fill the void in her heart. So she left the bar in our capable hands and took to the skies again.
Her story doesn’t end on a sad note, far from it. Inga still writes us here in Denver regularly. Post cards mostly, just a note to say hello, telling us she’s doing well. She’ll write: “Aloha from Maui, the luaus are great but the poi is best left to the natives!” or “Tokyo is so lovely, who do monsters keep attacking it?” or “Antarctica has the best mojitos!” Those cards always make us laugh. But the best cards we get… sometimes dog eared and with funny stamps from far off lands will read something like “Ran into James in Barcelona, might be gone a while”.
Take as long as you need Inga, we’ll keep the martinis cold and the lights on.