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Thursday, July 5, 2007


I flew back to Ohio last Sunday (I did not see a single firefly, Raine) :) to be with my brothers and sisters for the first time as a group in thirty-five years. Because we spread out into five states as the six of us aged, our reunions have been in twos and threes for decades. Distance never altered the depth with which we cared about each other. It was simply a matter of survival. I will avoid the ‘too much information’ syndrome, and launch into the story of how I arrived in Ohio.

Failing to achieve my first goal on both legs of my flight journey on US Airways; which was an aisle seat, I endured the middle seat on a two hour flight into Phoenix. Jubilant I had attained an aisle seat for the four hour flight from Phoenix to Cleveland, my cup was well over half full. Adding to my upbeat outlook, I noticed the nearness of my aisle seat to the front. I strode eagerly through the loading tunnel with notebook computer, ready to bang out four hours of fiction on it with the added room. Arriving at my assigned aisle seat, I found it decorated with a bag of Whopper candies, three tiny dinosaurs, and some assorted garbage. In the window and middle seat what looked to be six and eight year old boys were exchanging blows over who would gain control over a larger plastic figurine. I looked around at the already seated people, wondering who the hell leaves their two young kids sitting by themselves during a flight. As no one revealed their secret identity, I started thinking maybe the kids were on the flight by themselves. I quickly grabbed the junk off my seat, and set it on top of the garbage pile the kids had made on the center tray. The youngest boy twirled around, gawking at me with some distaste as he occupied the middle seat. I sat down fast, trying to avoid getting in the way of quite a few still to be seated flyers.

“You scared me,” the boy next to me stated.

Oh kid, if you only knew. I smiled back at his sullen look with an ingratiating one of my own and mumbled an unfelt apology. I’ve flown a few times with my own two children when they were these boys’ ages. My wife and I sat with them in alternating shifts; mostly me, because at the time, my Vulcan Death Stare was intimidating enough to evoke their best behavior. I noticed an odd ‘Princess and the Pea’ feeling, and discovered I was still sitting on a Whopper candy, which had spilled from the opened pack I had picked up from my seat. Not having carried on a trash bag, I deposited the candy into the airsickness bag in front of me.

“You’re the crab,” the boy next to me said, placing a plastic crab figurine over toward me on the tray with an added dinosaur next to it. “You get eaten.”

Not today, kid. I smile, wondering what the heck the flight crew will do with the mess on the tray since we are getting ready to take off. I find out quickly as the male steward stops by for a chat. He leans over, smiles at the kids, and swivels his head like the possessed girl in the Exorcist movie, so he can give me his version of the Vulcan Death Stare.

“Sir, we must have all trays up, and all loose items put away.”

Realizing I’ve just been given adoption rights for these two young renegades, I smile back at the Steward with my best Alfred E. Newman ‘What, Me Worry’ look.

“They aren’t mine,” I state simply, as his fake smile vanishes like my prior state of flight optimism.

“They aren’t?” The Steward questions uneasily, looking up and around the plane as the pilot warns of imminent take-off.”

“Nope,” I say happily.

“Okay you two,” he is forced into adoption, still glancing at me unbelievingly, “get your things cleared from the tray, get belted in, and get the tray back in the up position.”

The older boy scrambles to clear the mess off into one of the boy’s backpacks. The Steward then locks up the pull down tray, all the while frowning at me, and eyeballing the growing mess in front of the boys’ seats. He starts to walk away after the task is completed when the youngest brings him up short.

“Hey you, I’m thirsty,” he bellows loud enough for the rest of the plane to hear, most of the late entries thinking I’m still the owner of the two tots.

The Steward does a ‘Slowly I Turn, Step by Step’ mannerism, looking down at the boy with a ‘not if you were frying in hell look’.

“I’ll get you something in a minute.” He didn’t.

We took off, with the two boys holding their hands up in the air, whooping like they were on a roller coaster at Great America. After take-off, the younger one again screams he’s thirsty. The Steward brings him a cup of water; which he promptly spills on himself, thus cancelling any thoughts I had of bringing out my notebook computer. The Steward decides not to share the information with his fellow crew members, and for the remainder of the flight, I’m getting accusatory stares from the other US Airways’ cast members. I’m helping out, passing trash from the kids while denying any relation. My young companion next to me decides it’s time to let everyone know his pants are wet (from the spilled water, I hope). The Stewardess from the front section gives me a dirty look, and I let her know I’m not connected once again. When we’re twenty minutes out, some guy comes over and asks the kids if they’re alright. It’s their real Dad, and he’s been two seats back on the other side with their Mother the whole time.

Why didn’t my wife and I think of that? We just dump the kids on the other side of the plane, and pretend we don’t know them until the plane’s landing. :)


Jordan Summers said...

There are two kinds of parents who fly. The ones who want to rearrange the entire aircraft so that they can sit with their kids and the ones who do what they did. *ggg* Oh, I so don't miss my old job. Snort.

BernardL said...

I forgot, you were a pro at the flight crew gig, Jordan. I felt bad for the Steward who mainly had our section. He handed us off a third of the way through the flight, which was why I had to keep issuing my disclaimer. :) My wife and I never rearranged the plane. We just made sure we reserved three seats together, so one of us could maintain order. We didn't know you could abandon the kids until the flight ended. Oh well, maybe in the next life. :)

raine said...

(I did not see a single firefly, Raine)

That's because I'm hoarding them, Bernard. :-D

Your description is hilarious, lol.
But shame on them--what an awful thing to do to the rest of the passengers!
Should've had someone pose as an air marshall, and tie and gag the little angels as terrorists...

BernardL said...

It was a localized incident, Raine. They mostly bothered the flight crew and me. :)

December/Stacia said...

That really is shameful. And no offense Bernard, but if by some chance those were my kids and some man was assigned to sit with them...I'd be asking him to switch.

We know you're a good person, but they certainly didn't.

BernardL said...

That is absolutely right, D. They had no idea who or what I was, and still didn't come out of hiding till we were landing. I try not to think about what other stunts those two parents of the year pull off.