I've got a good idea! Lets all get on a plane in Newark Airport, the greatest, most efficient, airport on earth, one of God's gifts to mankind, and lets ride that plane to the other side of the world, Hong Kong. Doesn't that sound great!
Yes! That sounds amazing, but I feel like we could make that a whole lot better!
Oh, ok. Well, how can we make it better?
One word: Children.
Let me back up.
My sister, after getting married, decided with her husband that they wanted to do something crazy or fun or something, I never really asked about their true motivation, (I have heard rumors they are international jewel thieves), so they decided to move to Hong Kong for two years. Through some marvel my family was able to go out and visit them, as my dad was doing business in Singapore, so we headed up to Newark, ready to go to the far, far, far East.
In case you don't know, Newark is where fun and happiness go to die. It is like an internment camp for hopes and dreams, where good ideas are lined up and shot just for existing. The result of this was that, instead of just getting one the plane in boarding groups, everyone had to wait in a gigantic line for two hours leading up to the flight.
There were about 200 people. I would say that 180 of them were Chinese citizens returning home. About 30 of them spoke English and, this is the fun part, we counted 140 CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 5!! Joy of JOYS!
Oh wait, I mean: AUGH!! MONKEY TESTICLES!!!!!
One child on an airplane is too many. Now, I'm not saying that children shouldn't be allowed to go on vacation. But it is too much to ask for hermetically sealed packages in which to put the children? No, it isn't. Just throw a game boy in there with them and they'll be fine. They're kids! They're hearty.
So, hearts in out throats and half of our hair already pulled out, (because there is nothing more fun and calming for children then STANDING IN A LINE!), my brother and I boarded the plane and made our way to our seats like two people on death row.
I was given a window seat, with my brother in the window seat in front of me. Between my seat and the aisle sat an old Chinese couple, who did not seem to understand the fact that I had to climb over them. Originally the man wouldn't even let me take my backpack in with me, insisting that I stow it in the overhead compartment.
The prospect of sitting on a plane for 23 hours was not QUITE exciting enough for me to go without books or entertainment, so I politely insisted on bringing my bag with me and threw myself over two the couple into my new, temporary, home.
But WAIT, there's MORE!
For behind me sat a living God. I was blessed with sitting right in front of the 5-year-old Chinese reincarnation of Keith Moon, the crazy drummer of The Who. The moment the plane was airborne this kid was struck with a primal understanding of who he had been in a past life and, in one glorious explosion of inner talent, started banging out "Live at Leeds" on the back of MY CHAIR!
A deep sigh escaped my nose and I prayed for guidance while turning to tell him to stop, but he wasn't even looking at me, so my gaze fell to his mother.
"Excuse me," I smiled. "Your child is kicking my seat."
She smiled and nodded, then turned to her son and said something in Chinese, just as he began a new solo. He smiled at her… and kept playing.
They didn't speak any English.
Hours it went on. Hours and Hours. Hours to the third power. We were out over the Pacific. Dinner had come and gone, the Chinese couple beside me had not moved a muscle except to eat, staring straight ahead in front of them, not even getting up to use the bathroom, but still Ringo motherflippingoddammitwhatthehell!! Starr was going to town on my chair.
Numerous times I had turned back in an attempt to convey what this woman's son was doing to me. I tried all the sign language I could muster, I called the flight attendant and I even attempted to connect with this woman on some different, spiritual plane, perhaps if our minds could meld in some way, beyond the feeble understanding of mankind, she could comprehend what this fucking fruit of her loins was doing to me. But all was for naught.
Then… it stopped. There was peace. It was as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt as Frodo did upon dropping the ring deep into the chasm of Mount Doom, there was a bright sunrise before me and all was…
GOD DAMMIT!!! DOESN'T THIS KID SLEEP!?!?!
I felt something break in my very essence. The brief respite followed by fresh vigor had sapped all that was left of my soul. With a rage unknown to myself I let out a bestial bellow, willing my anguish to reach the highest tiers of heaven itself so that help would come my way. Then I fell back, relinquishing myself into the vibrations of insanity coursing through my chair.
But my cries had been heard. For the man next to me suddenly moved. He awoke like a primordial guardian, the spirit of the earth itself, and looked over at me in my pain. Slowly his weathered hands moved to his seat belt and clicked it open. He then raised himself like Buddha coming out of his meditation and turned to the woman behind me.
From his mouth there suddenly poured a rush of Chinese, flowing as the mountain stream does during the spring melt. He roared at her, and as I looked understanding finally crossed her face. She illuminated with shock and turned to her son, wasting no time she began screaming in even more Chinese and grabbed his feet, rotating him in one move so that his small, (and shockingly powerful) legs lay across her lap.
Like some mighty mountain gorilla, the old man turned back to face the front and lowered himself back to his chair. His hands found seatbelt once more, and his restraint was reconnected, all while I stared at him in shock. For a moment he was motionless, then his lined face turned to mine.
He nodded, once, and faced forward.
For the rest of the flight, through the long watches of the night and into the dawn of the far side of the world, he never again moved, never spoke a word. But I had seen into the face of harmony, and my chair sat in calm silence until we landed.
And if I ever have kids I'm cutting their legs off.