“I’m flying high over Tupelo, Mississippi…with America’s hottest band…and we’re all about to die.” Okay, not really. That’s a great line from Almost Famous. Instead, I’m with my neurotic husband and 2 restless kids. And we’re not over Mississippi…more like Nevada or Utah and we’re not dying…just wishing each other dead and/or grave bodily harm, the ball and chain and I, that is. Not the kids. To clarify. We love the kids…and their intact limbs. See family flying, apparently like tree trimming, is rough on the ol’ parchment paper-thin marriage. The husband and I have very different methods of handling air travel with the wee ones. For starters, he prefers the more-is-more attitude with packing. If it’s not pinned or nailed down, the man will try to put it in a suit case and/or carry-on. Um. Honey? We’re headed to LA, not the outer banks of the Mongolia. I’m confident they have diapers and baby wipes in the wilds of metro Southern California. I shit you not, he once tried to pack a hard plastic baby bath. No. Really. In a duffle bag. It was too bulky, go figure. Fast forward to travailing the security lines with the kiddos and yet another argument against his compulsive overpacking. The anxious build up as we shuffle towards the metal detectors, the hastily discarding of clothes and footwear layers. Why, dear seasoned traveller spouse, are you wearing dress shoes and a belt? The overflowing bins of ipads, laptops, black berries, iphones, camera cases, car seats and McClarens…our enormous heap on the X-ray conveyor now closely resembling a black market outside Fez. Then there’s his penchant for Costco portion in-air food and drink. I too appreciate a little hydration and snack while trapped in our seats for 6 hours…but why must he load a backpack full of string cheese and yogurt and impulsively buy enough bottled water for, say, a Sahara crossing–on foot, minutes before we attempt to clear security?!! Perks of lugging 5 large Fiji bottles and the carry on equivalent of a mid-size dairy farm airborne? Along with the remote threat of surviving a plane crash on a desolate isle, the families’ bone density levels would certainly remain normal…oh and I no longer feel the useless emotion known as embarrassment. As I hold up 20 impatient and irate fellow line hostages, an eye rolling TSA agent painstakingly opens my 3rd blueberry organic yogurt in search of explosive traces. Only 3 more containers to go, sneering business travelers!
With the chaos and humiliation of the security line behind us, we’re almost ready to completely turn on each other. But not quite yet. I’m a big believer in letting the little ones get their “sillies out” pre-boarding. Let the hyperactive tikes run like wild banshees at the terminal gate. He, on the other (nail bitten) hand, believes every inch of surface in the airport akin to actual weapon grade virus in a defense lab petri dish. Nothing is to be touched. The hyper-vigilance lasts all of 2 seconds. Naisy is found licking at planes through the smeared, gooey glass wall while Owee happily eats organic cheddar bunnies strewn about the germ-harboring upholstered airport chairs. 1st boarding call is up next. Time to ratchet up the cuckoo. I’m regretfully married to an FOFO…First On and First Off-er. The man must be first. If that means elbowing a senior in a wheel chair, so be it. He is getting on that plane and having the virgin crack at the empty overheads FIRST!!!!!!.
After pissing off the entire cue of waiting passengers and gate agents with our manic boarding stampede, we’re now in our seats…Petri dish paranoia Part Deux…break out the hazmat suits. I exaggerate…a little. They’re not suits exactly but rather jumbo packs of Clorox disinfecting wipes…and wipe we do…our entire seating section…everything from the seat belt latches to the window shades. No surface is left un-scoured. I imagine this is what Howard Hughes‘ bathroom might have smelled like. Seats 23 A,B & C are now OR grade sanitized. Anyone need an arm amputated mid-flight? Come on down! At this point, pre-takeoff, everyone in rows 24 and 22 concur with disapproving glances and head nods that we’re completely insane. No arguments there. Before I can get my seatbelt on, the husband (honorary and sole male member of La Leche League) is lecturing me on the importance of breastfeeding during take off and landing to help stabilize ear pressure in the “baby”. Forget she’s 1 1/2 year old, has a mouthful of teeth and she finds it absolutely hysterical to make like beef jerky with my nips. Yey. I get to awkwardly expose myself to a cabin 1/2 filled with angry people engulfed in a bleach cloud and that currently loathe me and my OCD sharing sidekick. Nothing like force witnessing unpleasant nudity and noxious fume animosity to turn the other 50%.
Wheels up now and the clowns are summonsed to the flying circus. The next 5.5 hours are spent playing court jesters to the little princesses. She says draw, I say what color? The other says DVD, he begs HD or Blue Ray? We will empty our pockets, agree and acquiesce to ANYTHING to prevent a Code Blue air tantrum meltdown. As we touchdown on the tarmac–miraculously–success is ours again. Turns out, we’re 10 for 10 in “good” flights. Some air staff and won-over passengers nearby compliment us on how angelic our girls behaved, “Wow, who knew obsessive compulsives are so great with their kids…” We smile and shrug humbly. Though in-flight victory and popularity among fellow passengers has its price: specifically 50,000 frequent flier miles, very possibly brain damaging level exhaustion, 17 earnest (but empty) threats at couple’s counseling, our mutually elevated BP readings and a good bit of anticipatory damage to our livers…Mommy and Daddy most definitely have earned themselves some strong drinks.