Saturday, February 26, 2005

It's all fun and games until the baby throws up

I've never enjoyed flying much.

It's not the physical discomfort (the squishing, the lurching, the lifting, the landing, the ear-popping/bladder-expanding/knee-crunching wonder of it all), but the metaphysical discomfort that gets to me.

I worry on planes. Not the soul-crushing worry like, "how am I going to pay off my student loans?" or "have I emotionally scarred my pets?" that I experience at other quiet times. Rather, I indulge in a milder, more insidious form of general distrust and unease rooted in my lack of faith in the man-made. I worry that our aerodynamic theories are off, I worry that a woman in high-heels will puncture the hull, I worry about urban sprawl and water use in the American Southwest. But now mostly, I will worry about vomit.

Last night was a fairly mild flight, filled as it was with Spring Breakers carrying skis or bathing suits and headed off for who knows what kind of all-expenses-paid-trip (If your parents pay for it, it is all-expenses-paid). I flipped between the movie (Ladder 49 or 49th Ladder or 49 Angry Ladders, or something like that - you know, with River's younger brother? I delight in his harelip scar, and you probably do, too), Jane Jacobs, and my Zelda game for GBA.

The plane had touched down in Pheonix, and we'd lived through that tense moment where the stewardesses warn you not to get up, not to open the overheads, not to twitch a whisker, or they'll staple you where you sit. There was this young mother (let's call her YM) holding a her baby and her carry-ons in the aisle. I was surrounded by women, who, in their baby lust, forgot that we were all waiting to get off of this improbable, winged death-tube, and spent our valuable disembarking time gawking and cooing at the pink-clad infant. YM, sensing the attention, smiled, babbled something, and bounced the child a few times for emphasis. This was, of course, the wrong move.

I have to admit, that baby had range.

And capacity.

She managed to hit two in the row ahead of her on the first go, and the YM had barely stammered out an apology before her child erupted again. I, terrified of vomit under the best circumstances, shrank in my seat and may have blacked out.

YM was mortified, as she should have been.

Personally, I mostly refrain from associating with individuals who vomit on strangers in public.