What is to be said about that shrieking baby three rows back?
I remember the story of my twenty-second-story Gardenia neighbor in a Manhattan restaurant with a similar screaming child. A grown woman whose patience ran short at a dinner table with my own parents to whom the thought of screaming children of their own might not have yet occurred. With dirty looks and tongue clicks and disapproving shakes of their perfectly coiffed New Yorker heads, most patrons sent silent curses in the direction of table 14 in the corner by the window until the probably touristing family received a very loud and definitive “shut that fucking baby up” from my dearest neighbor, who then proceeded to be seated and continue her lovely Manhattan meal.
I contemplate instigating a similar debacle on this Boeing 737 flight to Puerto Rico with two hours left to tolerate the dangling tonsils of this unhappy child. My mind wanders to the staggering applause I might receive from other frankly pissed-off passengers. I imagine the stewards’ scoldings with subtle winks and squeezes of “I wish I could have.”
I look out the window to the clouds to calm me. Another shriek from row 24, and they don’t. I plainly cannot imagine how they would, as bawling baby sounds must certainly have penetrated the double-paned airplane windows too cramped to see outside comfortably, piercing what were once otherwise perfectly fluffy and enjoyable wisps of cloud stuff. Thinking to myself that if the old-enough-to-know-better kid behind me kicks my seat one more time...which, of course, perhaps sensing my practically violent determination, she does not.
Silently, and later very publicly, I thank my mother and father for doing all they knew to knock out of me the bad manners of a pint-sized New Yorker. Then I am very, very careful lowering my tray table. Patient. Delicate. I try not to snore when I doze on this flight too long, but I am almost positive that it was I who woke me moments ago. Maybe the rest slept through it.
The final thought I have before that famous airplane doze, the last of flight 227 before I wake up hitting sunny San Juan ground, is an apology. That on behalf of all of us who have ever been ear-popping kids on planes, I am sorry to all you auditorily sensitive passengers, the ranks of which I have now joined. We really don’t mean to.
Can someone please give that kid some gum?