After an eventful and exciting vacation in the movie cliché that is New York City at Christmas time, Emma (the girlfriend) and I hopped on a plane to head to my parents house in the north woods of Michigan. It was only going to be an hour and a half flight but the shift of scenery, pace and tone was going to be drastic.

Sitting at the gate at La Guardia airport I was enjoying my Diet Coke and my $7 cashews while doing the standard “boarding scan.” For those of you who don’t name every mundane event in your life (why not?), the “boarding scan” is the pre-flight moment where you inspect everyone sitting at the gate to find any potential agents of travel chaos amongst you. These things are, of course – babies, teens who don’t use headphones and people the size of Volkswagens.

A brief examination though it was, it yielded incredibly unsavory results. Immediately, my Boarding Scanner XL2000 (fictional device) was exploding with flashing red lights and screams of “Warning!” There were no human Tonka trucks but in front of me was a three-headed devil demon sent straight from Traveler’s Hell. Two babies and a dog. This sounds like an SNL sketch, which, for future reference, is never a good place to find yourself. And thanks to my 24-hour advance online check in (one of the only good things about modern travel) I knew that this was a tiny plane, so there was no escaping.

So, I chanted the only shred of hope I had for a peaceful trip: don’t be sitting close to them, don’t be sitting close to them, don’t be sitting close to them. Now that Emma thought I was going crazy (muttering to yourself at an airport terminal makes people wonder), we boarded the plane and, low and behold, we sat directly in front of a baby. One look between Emma and myself said all there was to say, “We’re probably going to die.”

I was convinced that sitting through this hour and a half flight with Chucky directly behind us was going to be worse than attempting to withstand an entire episode of anything from Tyler Perry (sorry, I’m white. I just don’t get it) – we, of course, came to find out that…

…this kid was an absolute angel. Part way into the flight we found ourselves chubby elbows deep in conversation with the father and the kid (whose wise lack of words spoke volumes). We didn’t get their names so we’ll call them Dad and Charles. Decked out in his Sunday best for the trip, Charles was dressed an awful lot like the Columbia students we bar hopped with only hours before. (Official Columbia Student Uniform: Blue V-Neck sweater, white dress shirt underneath, khakis.) Don’t worry, Charles wasn’t all business, Emma was quick to point out his skull and crossbones socks. Charles had a punk rock edge.

(I thought about trying to get a picture of Charles to share with all of you but unfortunately asking someone if you can take a picture of their baby is incredibly creepy. And the consolation of “No, it’s not a big deal. I’m just gonna put it on the internet” doesn’t help matters much.)

Come to find out, the only thing worse than having a kid behind you on an airplane, is realizing that the kid is actually way cooler than you are. In talking to Charles and Dad, we learned that Chuck (we’re on a nickname basis now) had traveled more of the world in his short 2 years of life than I had in 2 decades. He’d been all over the US, all over Europe AND he’d been to Canada (I know the great white north isn’t much to brag about but it’s the cornerstone of my pathetic travel resume so I thought I’d include it.)

So as the fasten seatbelt sign came on and our pilot, Dick Plush (holy shit, I’m not kidding. That was his name), ordered the flight attendants to prepare for landing, I was crushed that our conversation with Charles had to stop. This was the coolest kid I’d ever met – even cooler than Robbie Christopher from Fort Meigs Elementary (his parents had a speed boat and he could dunk a basketball). Emma and I turned around in our seats, put our tray tables in their full, upright and locked positions and regretted not asking Charles to come to Happy Hour with us once we landed.

I took comfort in having a peaceful flight, uninterrupted by screams, barks or howls. But at that moment, the strangest feeling came over me. There was a crackle in my ears and then an intense pain throughout my head. It was like my eardrums had caved in on themselves. I didn’t know what was going on but I was in pain and didn’t understand it. So I did the only thing that I could: started crying, flailing, and kicking the shit out of the seat in front of me. Emma tried to calm me down to no avail. I continued my fight until we landed and the pain finally subsided. We exited the plane amongst stares from strangers. They must not have had the same ear explosion issue that I had. Lucky.

We walked through the airport at DTW and I smiled to myself. “What a great flight. Neither the dog nor the babies threw a fit. Tis the season.”

- dc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>