Wednesday, July 25, 2012

smear of flying

Wanna hear a funny story?       I kind of thought you might.

So the hubs and I took Estie to visit my homeland a few weeks ago.  We were pretty excited to take our seven month-old busy-body baby on a 3.5 hour nonstop flight to Florida (this is why someone needs to invent a "sarcasm" font).  We only had two tickets, so Estie would be travelling on our laps.  Southwest doesn't do assigned seats on their flights, and our plan was to sit next to either an old person or a woman who looked like a mom - someone who was less likely to hate our guts for being "those people" who fly with infants.  As soon as we boarded the plane I spotted this kid who looked to be about Annie's age, sitting by himself in a window seat.  He had one of those unaccompanied minor badges around his neck.  Sweet, I thought.  Estie can be as annoying as hell next to a kid - what's he gonna say?  Plus, on a nicer-person note, I like to think Benny and I are very upstanding, kid-friendly people; the kind of folks I always hope sit next to Annie when she flies solo.  So I figured we'd be doing this kid a favor, really - saving him from some yucky old dude with pipe breath who wants to talk about his grandkids for an hour before slumping over his tray table to saw logs for the rest of the flight.  I imagined  this little boy's mother and how her heart would flutter when her son got off the plane and told her he sat next to SUCH nice people, who had a baby with them and so certainly did not molest him.  Maybe she'd even send us a nice thank-you note with some money.  So we crammed our bags under the seats in front of the kid and settled in for our flight.  I struck up a convo with him.  Turns out he was the same age as Annie and he was doing a cross-country mom/dad swap for the summer, too.  His name was... aw hell, who can remember stuff like that... and it was his first time flying unaccompanied.  I comforted him in a motherly but non-stranger-danger way, and we chatted for a while before he laid his head back for a catnap.  Estie was obsessed with trying to touch the kid while he slept, cause she's just a little creeper like that, but otherwise she behaved pretty well.  She basically just writhed all over the place across our laps the entire time.  About 45 minutes into things, I was balancing Estie's standing body on my torso when I sensed a kerfuffle to my left, coming from the window seat.  Before I could even react, Benny was snatching Estie's bag out from under my feet and flying out into the aisle of the plane.  I looked over at the kid just in time to see the first explosion of canned dog food-like vomit spew from his mouth and overflow his tiny, pointlessly-cupped hands.  WHOA!  People actually really do puke on planes?!  Those little white bags aren't just for sticking your gum and used Kleenexes into?!  Oh my God!  My first instinct, of course, was to get the hell away from this disgusting monster and the putrid bile spilling out of his face.  But I'm a mom - I know that all children are disgusting monsters, and it's not their fault.  I couldn't just run from the poor little dude in his time of need.  So I passed Estie to her dad, scooched over to the seat Benny had been in, reached out and placed my hand on pukeface's shoulder and told him everything would be okay.  He responded by hurling again with impressive velocity.  It was the kind of vomit that forms a pile, not a puddle.  A chunk landed on my shoe.  The smell was like someone had died and their body was rotting in an overhead compartment.  I stood up and signalled the flight attendant.  She smiled and gestured to the drink cart - would I like a Diet Sprite? I guess my husband standing in the aisle with our baby and carry-ons meant we were just REALLY thirsty.  So I pantomimed a barfing motion and pointed to the window seat.  The flight attendant wrinkled her nose and headed our way with one C-fold paper towel.  When she got to our seats, she took one look at the kid and I instantly felt awful for her, because she realized that A) this was more like a beach-towel kind of mess, and B) this was NOT my kid, so she would be cleaning decomposing-body-scented Alpo off the seats and floor by herself.  Bless her heart.  And bless his heart, too.  And my shoe.

In the end, the kid lived, though he'll probably never recover emotionally.  Benny and I had to find other, separate seats for the rest of the flight; poor B. poked his head out into the aisle every time he heard Estie make a noise, while she and I spent the rest of the flight gossiping with two teenage girls on their way home from a volleyball tournament.  It all worked out.  We never did see poor Ralph, which I've decided to name the boy, again.  I still think of him often.  I hope he's gotten the smell out of his jean shorts and is having a happy summer somewhere in Florida - and that whoever sits next to him on his flight home is wearing rain boots.

Maybe it'll be Annie!

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