Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Long Way Home

Here’s a weird feeling: Waking up at 3:45am on a Sunday in Berlin and realizing that it’s not even 10pm on Saturday night back in New York.

Here’s a weirder feeling: Landing in Amsterdam at 7:30 am on a Sunday (or 1:30 am in new York) and wandering around aimlessly in the rain while prostitutes wave at you from dark windows at the same time that church bells are ringing.

(See my pics—all 6 of them!—here)

We boarded a flight bound for Detroit (yup, two hours past our final destination—gotta love free-quent flier miles) at 3 pm Netherlands time (9 am New York time) and settled in for a nine-hour ride. No sooner did the plane start to move that a toddler began to scream and wail at such a volume that the only reasonable explanation was that someone had set him on fire. When the screams continued for an additional 45 minutes, I had to accept that this was, sadly, not the case.

Speaking of which ....

Open letter to children on planes:

Dear Small Ones,

You may not be aware of this, but as cute and precocious as you may be on land, no one is excited to see you on their aircraft. There’s a stereotype associated with children traveling on planes. Stereotype means a belief that a lot of people hold about a certain group of people or type of person, like how all grown-ups think the Teletubbies are gay. That is an example of an unfair stereotype because everyone knows that while Tinky-Winky is out and proud, Po is solidly bisexual. Anyway, the stereotype about children on airplanes is that you make everyone else’s flight unpleasant by crying, screaming, kicking seats, running down the aisles, or vomiting. This stereotype is associated with all types of traveling children, but airplanes are a special case because there is no way out for the rest of us. The only possible method of escape would be to open the emergency exit, in which case we would have to take the entire plane down with us. And while that might satisfy our revenge fantasies in regards to you personally, it seems untoward to cause death and dismemberment to innocent bystanders onboard.

My plea to you is to stop playing into this stereotype. Don’t you want to be different? When you’re thirteen you will probably dye your hair funny colors and write lots of angry diary entries about how no one understands the unique and delicate being that you are. Why not start breaking the mold now? Why cry at a pitch that only dogs can hear when you could be quietly coloring? Why kick the seat when you could take a nap? If you’re not sleepy, why not ask mommy for a Benadryl? They are soooooo fun!

Another thing: please, if you hear another child crying, do not join in. That child is destined for a life of being silently loathed by fellow passengers. You don’t want to associate yourself with him. Just order another apple juice and revel in your superiority. I think you’ll find it’s much a more satisfying activity.

Smell you later,

Una


It took a lot for me to write that letter, because normally I love babies. And infants I can generally forgive (although seriously, parents, shove something in its mouth. A nipple, a binkie, a sock, anything). But toddlers like the one on our flight are little minions of Satan. I know I’m a curmudgeon, but it takes two to make me want to kick a small child.

Our flight from Detroit to Laguardia also had a crying baby on board, but luckily for me I was too distracted by the gentleman seated to my right to notice. This young man appeared to have a nasty cold, but had neglected to bring tissues. He decided that instead of breathing through his mouth, he would prefer to take long, hearty sniffs every few seconds, just to hear the melodious sound of snot being sucked back into his nasal cavity. I thought he was sleeping with eyes open for awhile, but then he began reading a book. Before you judge me for hating him, please note that he was wearing a tight camouflage thermal shirt and tennis shoes without socks. Right?

We finally deplaned back in New York at 9:15 pm (3:15 am Berlin time) and waited dutifully for our luggage. An hour later, we learned that our bags had urgent business in Detroit and had missed our flight (they were last seen in the Tequileria sucking down frozen daquiris). We filled out forms to have them delivered the next day (don’t worry, K, your books made it home), waited in line for a cab, and finally stepped through our front door a mere 25 hours after we had left Kerry’s.

And that, lieblings, is the end of our European adventure .... until next time.
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