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Living in Chicago, by way of Dayton, OH and Havertown, PA. Contact me at atozpod@gmail.com.



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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

from Indonesian Wine to Infinite Tamboura

Day 913, Session 150:
Friday December 26th - 36,000 feet over somewhere.
First song: Indonesian Wine by SNMNMNM
Last full song: Infinite Tamboura by Rusted Root
Progress: 2111-2112 of 6078
Total Songs Heard: 1937

"Why on earth are you writing an entry on only two songs?" you may ask.

I didn't want 2008 to end without squeezing out one more entry, and I wanted to tell the story of my flight to Vegas and then you can judge whether it's a metaphor for anything else (like my entire year.)

The annual post-Christmas pilgrimage to Las Vegas started off not so great. Our 2:45 flight became a 6:30 flight due to weather problems in sweet home Chicago. Once we got on the plane however, things were looking up. The Wife and I were able to snag seats in the exit row which of course meant greatly enhanced leg room for the duration of the now 5.5 hour (usually about 4.5, but again, the weather) flight. I realize I'm not particularly tall and so taking the exit row seats when there was an entire basketball team getting on the plane after us (go Ohio Northern Fighting Northerners!) seems like something of a dick move, but my knee tends to go a bit wacky when I'm forced into cramped seating for an extended period and I have to constantly get up to stretch it. With the exit row, there's no need for getting up. (Plus, it's not like the entire basketball team could have fit in the exit row anyhow and if they really wanted that row, they should have checked in exactly 24 hours before the flight like we did.)

As the rest of the passengers filed on, I noticed a kid (probably 2 or 3 years old) getting into the row behind us.

"Uh, oh." I whispered to The Wife, but she assured me that she had seen this kid in the waiting area and that he had quiet, if a little rambunctious. (I found out later from my mom that he had been trying to tip over one of the big airport trashcans.)

4 hours later I wanted to strangle the kid and both of his adult "guardians." The child in the row behind us began wailing approximately 8 seconds after take off. He continued to scream without stop for the entire duration of the flight. I think it might have been a world record. As an added bonus, I was sitting directly in front of him and he was keeping the beat to his cry-fest by drumming what I was assuming were his feet against the back of my seat.

I assumed it was his feet, but for all I know it could have been his head. Unlike everyone else around me, I refused to turn around and look at the sorry group of adults who were responsible for this child. I was so filled with loathing for their existence that I feared if I turned around and stared them down the power of my furious glare would reduce them all to ash. I didn't want the death of 3 more people on my conscience.

I attempted to self medicate my way out of this sonic filabuster with enough drink to put me to sleep (free as a peace offering for the lateness of our flight, thanks Southwest!) but the screaming was too much. I attempted to drown it out by finding the loudest music on my iPod and playing it at full blast. This worked to an extent, but I'm not a person who really enjoys blasting music directly into my brain via headphone, so it was not an ideal solution.

Then... I took out a pen to put the memories of this experience down on paper. I wrote exactly one sentence before discovering that the pen couldn't take the screaming anymore and decided to end it all in the most dramatic way a pen can... by exploding. Black pen blood coated my hand. Adjusting the pen to see where the fatal wound was only made things worse. So now I've got a screaming, kicking kid and blood... er, ink on my hands. I'm seriously considering throttling the kid, the kid's parents, and myself at this point, so I have to wash the ink off so as to leave less evidence.

I headed to the plane bathroom, and since I had had a couple of drinks, I decided to kill a second bird while washing my hands. I'm siting there returning a portion of my rented drinks (sitting because of a previous plane/turbulence/restroom experience) and I decide I'll wash my hands at the same time. Yeah, that was a mistake. It turns out those airplane sinks pack a surprising amount of water pressure. So now I'm covered in water, and ink (and luckily that's all.)

I get back to my seat and decide that I might as well spend the remaining tortuous time of the flight working on this here project and of course, just as I get through the second song they make the announcement that we're making our final approach. Five minutes after that the kid's mother finally wakes up (she somehow has been sleeping almost the entire flight!) and holds the kid, at which point the kid finally stops crying.

This is not the kind of luck you want on your side as you begin a trip to Vegas.

I promise you this, if two years from now my 18-month kid (codename: Gummy) is causing that sort of misery to my fellow passengers, you can bet that we'll be solving that problem with children's Benadryl and airplane bottle sized doses of liquor.

So that's it for 2008. It was a bad year for one reason (no job) outweighed by the many reasons it was a good year: Phillies' World Series Title, Obama victory, success for the wife at her job, financial stability, continued good health for me and my family, and, last but certainly not least, the news of impending Gummy.

Of course there's no reason 2009 can't be even better. I hope it is for you too.

Happy New Year.


Sara said...

Oh...those long flights with bad plane mates can be brutal. Glad you made it to Vegas with out impaling the Childs head with your inkless pen.

Congratulations to you and the wife!

Mike said...

Wow, you really captured that special air travel feeling in this piece. Luckily for me the cross-country trip to Philly was painless by comparison. You have my sympathy.

Happy New Year, congrats again, and hopefully I'll see you soon (if I survive Angola)!

Kaylor said...

Reminds me of Little Jeffrey


matt said...

S- Thanks on the congrats. Good thing I didn't impale, I probably wouldn't get out in time for Gummi's birth.

I forgot about it in the follow up post, but after the first pen exploded, I put it's blue brother through the wash. Of course it was in with a bunch of white stuff, so I now have some blue tie-dye socks and t-shirts. Ugh. Good thing the blackjack table was kind this trip.

M - If you see the kid or the mother anywhere even in the airport when you leave for Angola I'd recommend canceling the trip.

K - Very nice, although if the kid had actually said anything as coherent as Jeffrey, it probably would have been easier to handle.