Please pardon this rant, but I’ve just left the longest and most excruciating two-hour flight of my life. Was it rough air, you ask, that made it so miserable? Did the flight attendant unload the newly brewed contents of a coffee carafe in your lap? No, it was worse than either of these. Misery was two-and-a-half feet of mobile terror, cleverly disguised by a seraphic face and a copse of platinum hair. Misery sat right behind me, a sugar-fueled fiend in a yellow jumper.
I’ve come across, and sat within an ear poke of, every possible kind of kid in my travels. There have been plenty of complete angels, of course. But that’s not the kind I’m concerned with. I’m talking about kids with vocal cords of solid titanium. Burgeoning kung fu masters engaged in mortal combat with the back of my seat. Children gifted with the ability to project bodily fluids over great distances and with frightful precision. But this one had a knack for chaos clearly imparted from on high.
He was a bonanza of irritating noises: from the brash clacking together of plastic toys and seat belt parts with his havocking little hands, to the soul-wracking squeals that would outdo a stuck pig in a sack, to the favored electronic game whose sole redeeming qualities seemed to be its ability to mimic an ambulance siren and its eternal battery life.
Where were his parents? Across the aisle, leaving the monitoring and reigning in of this viking-in-the-making to his overwhelmed grandmother, whose meek castigations were rebuffed with the glee of a defiant dictator. And speaking of dictation, midway through the flight he filled our collective ear canals with a tantalizing taste of his in-progress work of literature, surely the first to be composed entirely of ‘goos’, ‘ghees’, and ‘ghaas’, and punctuated exclusively by exclamation marks!!! He ended the oratory with a wholly unexpected and murderous scream. As with all great art, my reaction to it was a visceral one.
OK, I understand that it’s developmentally important to let kids express themselves and exercise their creativity. But I also think it’s necessary, just as a precautionary measure for a select few tyrannical tykes, that airplanes, restaurants, and theaters be equipped with sound-absorbant pods, lockable from the outside, in which these kids can be placed when the “creative” urge strikes. This way, they can develop the expressive aspects of their personality and their sense of independence. Everybody wins. I’m only one-eighth serious, of course. The other seven-eights of me thinks the parents should be thrown in there with them.
I was still fantasizing about my idea as we began our descent, when a pointed jab caught me in the underarm. I turned to peer through the gap between seats, catching brief glimpses of a whirling, yellow column of air and, behind it, a resigned look on his grandmother’s face, as if to say, “Oh well, what can you do?” I responded with a look that said, “Get a pod.”
Thanks for reading. See you next week…