Accidental Sky Nanny
I sat next to a woman and her eight-year old daughter on a cross-country flight one day. That's not that long, you may think, but by the time we landed it felt like I had crossed all seven continents. Apparently she mistook "transcon" for "transconversation" and while I'm usually open to getting to know new people, the bags under my eyes were already larger than my carry-on when I boarded and when I took my seat, Chatty Kathy in 23B took what little energy I had left. 
It started with accidental eye contact that quickly escalated to Where are you from? and What do you do? She then proceeded to ask me about my ancestry, as many do when they hear my ''unusual" name. 
"I'm Lebanese." I replied, reaching into my backpack for my headphones. 
"Lebanese? But you're white!" She replied pointing at my skin as though I was some kind of vampire who didn't own a mirror. 
I smiled on the outside but formed mental ellipses on the inside. 
"Are you sure you're Lebanese?" She urged and looked towards my backpack as if she expected me to pull out a 23andMe report as proof. 
"Full-on. Both sides." I unwrapped my headphones and zipped up my bag, kicking it back under my seat. 
"It's look a lot like my husband, and he's Irish. I think you must have some Irish in you." She nodded.
Did I look like a man or did her husband look like a woman? I wondered if I could pull off an Irish good-bye without proving her theory. 
Kathy turned towards her daughter, and I took the opportunity to put my headphones in. I quickly realized she was immune to their effects. After a few more mhmms and wow interestings from me, I tried to emergency exit my way out of conversation again. On my second attempt, I put my headphones in and closed my eyes, breathing a sigh of relief that I could finally relax and maybe even get some sleep. 
Apparently that was wishful thinking because the first song I played was interrupted by finger taps on my shoulder. I sat completely still, naively thinking that if she thought I was asleep she would leave me be. The finger-tapping continued. I exhaled and forced my eyes open. 
"Yea?" I pulled out one headphone and turned towards the woman to find out what was so important that she couldn't let me fake sleep for even just a minute. 
"My daughter wants to show you the Barbie she designed on her iPad." She grinned. 
I took a deep breath and glanced in Kathy Jr.' s direction, towards the device she held. 
"Wow, nice." I commented. I even raised my eyebrows and inflected my voice. But before I could return the headphone to its rightful position in my ear, the girl spoke. 
"Look! I can dress her in a summer outfit or I can put a coat on her for winter. I can also change her hair and makeup!" 
Kathy Jr. scrolled through all the choices like a never-ending Instagram feed while her mom flaunted the inner peace that she'd robbed me ofby reclining her seat, putting her own headphones in, and starting a movie. Unbelievable, I thought. 
I caught an envious glimpse of the man in 22D who was fast asleep and pondered how something as small as a seat assignment one row back could make a world of a difference. 
The child continued. "What do you think of this outfit? How about this?" 
"Cool!" I hovered my left earbud around my ear. I gritted my teeth towards Kathy whose eyes were fully locked in on the seat-back TV screen now. 
"Should I give her pink lipstick or red lipstick?" 
"Pink is fine..." I stared up at the fasten seatbelt sign, but it was still illuminated. Okay, I'll just help her finish dressing up this one Barbie and then go to sleep...
"Here," she handed me her iPad. "You try now!" 
I hesitated before grabbing the device. Okay, I'll just design this ONE Barbie and THEN rest. I swiped through options and pushed buttons as fast as I could. 
"Wow you're really good at this," she said of my feigned interest and inadvertent Beach Barbie. "Mom never plays with me... " 
That statement was all it took to seal my fate until the captain announced our final descent, many Barbies later. 



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