25 December 2011

Things That Are Random - Over the Pole Edition

The North Pole, y'all. The North Pole on Christmas Day - it's like I'm Reverse Santa, taking all the presents back! I'm in a plane! Going to Europe! And apparently I'm very excited about it!

I'm in a plane with wi-fi. The science-fiction loving thirteen year old me is a bit agog at the moment. (I highly recommend this living-in-the-future stuff.)

After what felt like six months but was really about three weeks of laying about on the couch helpless against the assault of viral bronchitis (thank you dude coughing in the seat behind me on the flight home from Honolulu) I am again on a long flight, this time Paris bound. We booked it ages ago, and managed to get business class seats...

INTERRUPTING TO SAY: where apparently flight attendants assume you're a doctor. Sit in the front row of the plane, and your odds of being mistaken for a person of class and education increase. Who knew? 

The head steward just asked me quite seriously if I was a doctor. The look on his face indicated that he fully expected me to say yes. (I shouldn't make light, they've just announced that there's a medical situation with one of the passengers and have asked for any doctors or paramedics to help out. Oh no. Hope it's not too serious.)*

As I was saying, we're in business class seats. I am pleased to report that the first row on the plane is all kinds of excellent. And because it's always cute when you put a little kid in grown-up surroundings:

"Can I offer you a little pre-flight cocktail? Orange juice? Very good, sir, here you are. And what will the monkey be having?"

Then Curious George's antics almost got us kicked out of our fancy seats:

Bad little monkey!

I have to say, bedtime shenanigans on a plane are surely one of the nine circles of hell. As the parent, you are powerless. You're surrounded by people – people of class and education. There's no way to just close the door and let a tantrum take its course. What good is a time out when a kid is already stuck in a seat for nine hours? Children sense this, the little vultures. You are reduced to wheedling and vague and mostly empty threats. I am grateful for seat belts, and the "you must fasten your seat belt at all times" rule. (I may have a lap belt installed in his bed at home, now that I think about it.) It took an hour and a half to get The Imp settled down to sleep, during which I might be alleged to have had thoughts of minor violence.

As I got the stank-eye from the dude across the aisle from me (who, by the way, has been coughing non-stop for the last hour because I have the worst flight-seat-placement karma ever) I happened to glance across The Imp's seat (don't make eye contact, don't make eye contact) out to starboard, and there, perfectly framed in the oval window, was the heart-stopping beauty of Orion in an above-the-clouds perfect night sky.

Orion has always been something of a talisman for me.

I took a deep breath and fixed my gaze on that line of three bright stars until The Imp grew bored of being a hooligan and put himself to sleep.

Sometimes I really do thank my lucky stars.

*It occurred to me even as I wrote that sentence that "not too serious" is a crock of shit. What people mean when they say that is, "I hope I don't have to see a dead guy being wheeled off the plane." What does "not too serious" mean, anyway? If someone just had a minor stroke, it's not too serious to me, but it's serious as, well, as a heart attack to the poor bastard whose brain just clogged up.