Here is a long story.
I have been married for approximately 24 months, 21 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes at the time of typing this sentence. Okay, I guess that doesn’t really qualify as “approximate.” But I mean, I don’t know the exact seconds, so I’m rounding something off here.
The day after our wedding, my wife and I sat in the back seat of our good friend’s
slave ship Honda Fit as he graciously drove us the 126 miles from my in-laws house to Pittsburgh International Airport where we were scheduled to depart for our honeymoon – a luxurious week of Disney World escapades. If you haven’t been to Disney as an adult, I suggest you remedy that horrendous problem with haste. This was my third (fourth?) trip to the carnival of commercialism and all newlywed elation aside, it was my favorite time. There is something eerily amazing about that place. Giant plush characters, $5 sodas, zillions of people, standing in lines, bronze statues of anti-Semites, everything in sight trying to plunder every dollar you’ve ever had from your moth-eaten pockets. For some reason, you never want to leave. You hand over your money, drop your pants, bend over, and let them see if they can find a couple extra nickels hidden in your colon – because dammit, this place is awesome.
Anyway, right… the car ride took us to the airport. This was the first time my wife and I had flown anywhere together, and I think the second time she’d ever been on an airplane in her life, which is adorable in a really sad sort of way, like when handicapped dogs use one of those leg wheelchair gizmos.
We walked in and did the whole bag, shoe, laptop, belt, scanner, beep, wand, beep, pass, scanner, belt, laptop, shoe, bag routine and got to our gate without much of a hitch. None of this airport security business really bothers either of us because we’re a couple mellow yellows and don’t get all hissy about nonsense. (What you just read is a literary term called ‘foreshadowing.’ You’ll see why at the end. That’s how foreshadowing works.) And now I’ve just insulted your intelligence.
We boarded the plane and my wife took the window seat. I sat between her and some girl I didn’t know, but she wasn’t unattractive or smelly or chatty or thick-eyebrowed or taking part in any disgusting habits or overly ethnic or any of the other qualities that would have disturbed me in a rowmate. (Is rowmate the right word? I don’t fly much. I can’t think of anything better.) She basically just sat there the entire flight and didn’t make a sound and didn’t do anything that would lead me to believe she was anything other than catatonic or dead. The perfect stranger, really.
But then there was the family behind us. You know the type.
Mom is some fat snappy lady who not only thinks she’s the most illustrious mother on the planet, but that her kids are so awesome and perfect and important that they make Jesus look like an asshole. The kind of woman that annoys you so bad you’re ready to crush a brick through her face after being in her presence for 30 seconds. Whose kids are a spitting reflection of mother’s wonderful examples on perfect human behavior.
You know the drill during airplane takeoff. It hasn’t really changed since ever. You turn off all your electronic crap, you put your seat and trays up, and you sit there. Even the flight attendants get strapped in. Nobody does much. You’re inside an 800,000 lb. metal tube that somehow is going to use science to start flying. This crap needs to be done right.
Unless you’re this lady. She sees this time as the perfect opportunity to start demanding things, and to begin ruining the next several hours of everyone’s life. She’s got one kid in a seat, and a tiny infant on her lap.
To flight attendant: “Can I get a Coke? My kid is thirsty.”
To lady, looking confused: “Well, no… We’re doing takeoff in a moment.”
To flight attendant: “Well then, sweetheart, when will you be able to get us one?”
To lady: “Refreshments will be served at the usual time once the plane is airborne and level.”
To flight attendant: Huge ridiculous sigh of annoyance.
Plane goes up, flattens out, drinks are served.
“Do you want this expensive Godiva cookie mommy bought for you?” she asks her tiny child who has about 1.4 teeth and doesn’t give a crap whether it’s Godiva or Nutter Butter. He ate it like a spoiled little turd. Also, you have to read her voice in whatever woman’s voice you hate the most. That’ll suffice for her voice.
After the cookie, she unbuckled herself and the kids, because I need my seat kicked. I need my seat kicked again. I need my seat kicked. I need my seat kicked harder. I’m going to tear off your son’s face.
I started jerking my seat around, leaning it back and forward real fast hoping a cup of apple juice or something would spill on them. No such luck. Instead, she brings out the portable DVD player.
No headphones. Full volume.
Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Of all the movies on this holy, poop-stained planet of ours, this dirty douche lady lets her kids watch ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS at FULL VOLUME with NO HEADPHONES. My ears couldn’t pop loud enough to destroy my skull and stop this noise.
Blah blah, this chatting/chimpunk/eating/kicking/patronizing/bitching went on for the full two hours towards Orlando. She’d whine about something, make a flight attendant feel like a dick, baby her child, let her child assault all the seats in the vicinity and make all the noise it wanted. To contrast, there was a couple with a tiny infant baby in the row across from us, and I had no idea until about 10 minutes before the flight ended. Yet this 3 year-old had no idea how to behave.
The end of the flight is when it got real good.
Lady mom had some sort of baby device that straps the little critter to her chest or waist or something. I don’t know, I don’t have any kids. The point is, she was wearing this thing that was attached to her and then attached to the baby, I guess like a human tether-ball. That’s no good for airplane safety. The flight attendant comes over shortly before takeoff.
“I’m going to need you to disconnect that before landing. It’s a violation of the safety codes and I can’t permit you to wear it,” she tells Mom of the year.
“What are you talking about?”
“Your harness, you can’t wear it during descent. You need to be buckled in securely.”
“I am secure.”
“You aren’t secure according to the FAA. I can’t allow you to have that harness strapped to your baby. It needs securely fastened, too”
blah blah double blah
“The baby is ATTACHED TO ME. And I’m BUCKLED IN.” She starts screaming after a minute.
The flight attendant remains totally courteous and continues to tell her she needs to be buckled in correctly or the plane can’t land. This is when everyone starts watching. Nobody wants trapped in this vessel with this woman any longer than is necessary. And nobody wants to hear her whine about her buckles. Regardless of whether or not you feel like you’re strapped in right, if the airplane lady says you’re not, you’re not. That’s the rules of airplanes. Just do what they say and get over yourself.
“Listen, I’m buckled in. The baby is attached to me. Where’s the baby going to go? I’m stuck to the seat. She’s secure. We’re secure. Go away.” She continues.
“I can’t go away. We can’t land this plane until you are properly fastened.”
“ARE YOU FUCKING RETARDED? I’M FASTENED. GO AWAY!”
By the way kids, you might have been able to get away with calling a flight attendant a retard back in the day, but these days it’s considered a threat.
“Excuse me? You just elevated to a threat. I’ll be getting the air marshall.” She disappears and reappears a moment later with a big guy who tells her about how threatening flight attendants is a bad idea and reminds her how the plane can’t land until she fixes her baby harness. She reignites the above conversation with him, showing no respect for his position or the other passengers. Feel free to re-read the above dialogue it if you require. Eventually she let the air marshall know that she thinks he’s also a retard. Then everyone on the plane heard the words that made them all smile to themselves:
“When we land, you and your family are not to leave the aircraft. You’ll stay in your seats until all the other passengers have left and we’ll be calling in security to escort you out.”
They walk away. I feel a tap on my shoulder. I pretend to ignore it. It taps again. “Hey, you.”
“What?” I respond without turning around, but with the greatest amount of pissed-offedness I could muster.
“Did you hear what I said to her?”
“You called her a retard.”
“Yeah. She said that’s a threat. Is that a threat?”
“Apparently it is on an airplane.”
Having been already worked up by her escapade, my blood was absolutely lava once she started talking to me. I was literally shaking as I sat there. Laura grabbed my hand and held it still to keep me calm. Holy crap I hated this woman.
“I need you to do something for me,” she says.
“This will be good. What?”
“When they come, tell them what I said. You heard me. I need you to be a witness. I need you to tell them I didn’t threaten her. Can I give them your name?”
“Let me give them your name. You can tell them.”
“Please? You heard me. I need a witness.”
This is where my heart started to beat so hard that Michael Flatley and the rest of Riverdance could have put on a show to its rhythm.
“Lady, the only thing I’ve been a witness to is you ruining the first two hours of my honeymoon by being an obnoxious bitch the entire time.”
Laura stared at me with one of those “Yes, you said that, you are awesome” looks in her eye.
You’d think that might have shut the woman up. Actually, you probably wouldn’t – in which case you’d be right.
“What? How? How have I been obnoxious? What are you talking about? I haven’t done anything. What do you mean? How am I obnoxious?”
“By being exactly how you are right now. Stop talking to me. Stop talking completely and shut the hell up.”
Looking around, at least six other people within view were smiling to themselves or throwing me a thumbs up. The seemingly catatonic/dead girl next to me joined the land of the living, started laughing and suddenly turned and started talking about Disney, Epcot, and how we needed to be sure and take advantage of the wine & cheese festival that was currently going on.
When we departed, the mom and her family waited behind. I suppose they were taken to one of those really classy little white rooms with scary homeland security guys in suits who tell annoying women to behave on airplanes for a living.
Most people probably have some sort of airplane horror story. It’s never comfortable to be that close to others you don’t know for an extended period of time. But folks, we all live in the same world. We have all seen how history has transformed the airline experience. A lot of it is annoying, inconvenient and uncomfortable. A lot of it probably seems unnecessary and nitpicky. But it’s the rules. It’s just what we have to do. And if we all have to do it, we all have to do it, whether we can afford to feed our 3 year-olds Godiva cookies or not.
Quit dicking around and learn how to behave on an airplane.
Oh, and did you see the foreshadowing play out? With the whole “hissy about nonsense” thing? You did. Good, I’m glad. I knew you would. You’re bright, you are. Great.