Sunday, November 23, 2008


On the flight home from Sydney, I had the leftmost seat in a four-seat row with an irritable Aussie Mom and her two boys aged 11 and 7. They were all blond with very short haircuts. The older one sat down next to me looking pale and peaked and made gagging noises. He turned to me and said in a very cute Australian accent, "I got a piece of lolly THIS BIG stuck in my throat and I'm choking on it." I told him I hoped it came out. He then gagged until he threw up on his brother and his blanket. His mother yelled at him in a harsh Australian accent.

The 11-year-old told me that they were all going to fly to America where they would see their Dad. "My Dad is going to take us to the place where he makes special dune buggies with a Jamaican dude!" he said. "I bet you wish you could have done something that cool when you were my age! Do you ever wish you could turn back time and live your childhood again?"

"Not really," I said. "Only a few small things I'd do over."

"When you were naughty," he said, nodding in agreement.

A little while later, after I had told the 11-year-old to stop violently elbowing me during the process of deeply scratching his ass within his pants, he went circling in his seat with his blanket wrapped around him to find a comfortable position to roll up and rest. Literally going in circles like a puppy on a big floor pillow. The vomit spot on the blanket passed me several times, rubbing against our shared armrest each time.

I fell asleep to the sound of the tykes listening to "The Dark Knight" on their in-flight headphones at earsplitting volumes, the two soundtracks slightly offset in time.

A sensation of cool wetness along my right leg woke me up.

"What are you pouring on me?!?" I loudly asked them. Luckily it was a large glass of water which the older boy had spilled, and not orange juice or Sprite. The mom asked the older boy (who somehow was now two seats from me) if he had lost the use of his mind. She then flung her airline blanket across the older one onto the soaked lap of the younger boy, who began wiping off his share of the water. None of them spoke to me as I stood up to find paper towels to somewhat dry my pants.

I fell asleep to the disconcerting flurry of the two boys surreptitiously provoking each other.

I woke up in a drowse to find that my carry-on bag had migrated to a position directly under my feet. I hooked my foot under the bag to shove it back into its place deep beneath the seat in front of me. But it was stuck and didn't move. So I gave it a second, stronger heave, and it gave me a defensive slap. My eyes opened to reveal that my foot was grappling not my bag but the older boy, who had taken up a supine position to sleep under the seats. His little brother's bare feet were resting on his chest, footrest style. I guess that's where my large shod feet had been in relation to his head before I woke up.

The next time I opened my eyes it was to discover the older boy next to me making a tower of drink cups with his full and opened can of lemonade at the top.

"I don't want that lemonade on my pants," I said, "So please stop playing with it."

"I'm not playing with it," he objected.

"It looks like you're playing with it. Put it on your tray right now."

"Sorry." (Cute Aussie accent.)

I could go on. The breakfast meal came and both boys ate their scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes with their hands. The excess was wiped on the blankets, but only when their hands were excessively covered with wet food. Their mother said, "I suppose you're going to eat with your hands in the restaurants in America!" They said no, they wouldn't.

Twelve hours into the flight the older boy said, "We've been flying for so long, I feel like I'm in a dream of being on an airplane."

1 comment:

atrophyannie said...

that's awesome. it reminds me of the time i was at the library and found a random girl punching me in the butt with no parent in sight. i never know how to handle other people's kids.
stories like that make me wary of having boys, more than one child around the same age, or children in general. but then again i know my mom would never have let me get away with half those antics.