You shouldn’t say “bomb” on an airplane. You also shouldn’t talk to a child about going to a watery grave.
I’ve been all sorts of pissy for the past month that my Cleveland-bound flight from Boston that normally costs about $120 set me back $341. I’m certain there are far cheaper ways to be tortured that don’t involve my fucked-up family, the Midwest and the very real threat of deep vein thrombosis. Or I could have just squirreled away the $341 and put it toward my retirement fund.
But no. Apparently Continental doesn’t want me to be financially stable in my golden years. Continental wants me to pass on swanky independent living complexes with names such as Whispering Nuthatch, Land o’Lakes and Rock Hudson. Continental doesn’t care if I one day develop cataracts and can’t afford surgery and instead have to swap out my bad eye and put a blue M&M in its place. My eyes aren’t blue. They’re hazel. But if I need a new eye, and that replacement eye is going to be made of milk chocolate with a brightly colored candy shell, I think I’d choose blue. Sometimes, you have to live a little. Also, yes, M&Ms melt in your mouth not in your hands, but what about your eye sockets? The company has never really come right out and said for sure one way or another, and I kind of need a thumbs-up or down from them so I can make an informed decision. I should probably start circulating a petition demanding M&Ms be more transparent about meltability. Right after I boycott the ageist corporate honchos at Continental for monetarily screwing the future senior citizens of the world. Elders should be treasured, Continental.
Anyway, I was steaming about forking over $341, being age-discriminated against and unable to confirm whether or not candy could withstand the heat from a bone cavity in my skull until I overheard the following conversation during the flight on Saturday. Then I realized my life could be a lot worse – I could be a 6-year-old boy with this woman for a grandma:
Boy: (pointing toward pamphlet on airline safety protocol tucked into the seat back) Grammy, what’s this?
Grandma: A little book about airplane safety. Let’s see …
Boy: (gesturing toward the instructions) What does “salida” mean?
Grandma: That’s Spanish for “exit.” The picture shows how to open a special door to get off the plane if something goes wrong.
Boy: What if it won’t open?
Grandma: Then someone else will try. Here, it says, “Keep in mind the closest exit might be behind you.”
Boy: The bathrooms are behind us. They smell.
Boy: (motioning at another illustration) Grammy, why’s the man wearing a mask?
Grandma: It’s for when we’ll need oxygen, if there’s an emergency.
Boy: What if it doesn’t work?
Grandma: It will. Look, the man’s helping the baby …
Boy: How could a man have a baby?
Grandma: Well, he can’t have a baby. He’s the daddy.
Boy: Oh. Grammy, why’s that lady in the picture in the ocean?
Grandma: The plane must have landed in the water. But the cushions in our seats become flotation devices.
Boy: (pointing) What’s this picture of?
Grandma: Passengers are bent over bracing for a crash.
Boy: But why is the man touching the lady?
Grandma: He’s probably trying to make her feel better about the plane going down.
Boy: Grammy, my teacher told us about 9-11.
Grandma: You worry too much, Sebastian!
Then Sebastian sat in silence, probably pondering the horrors of depressurized cabins, watery graves and poorly paid pilots who struggle with chemical dependence. That last fear might just have been mine, though. I’m not a mind reader. After the drink cart rolled by and Sebastian ordered apple juice, he accidentally dumped it in Grammy’s lap. “I knew this would happen if I let go of the cup,” she said while sitting in a puddle of high fructose corn syrup at 3,000 feet. Umm, yeah, I knew it would happen, too, because I was toying with the idea of taking matters into my own hands. And in this case, unlike Continental’s unforgivable abuse of the not-yet elderly with M&M eyes, this old, flabby bag totally had it coming. She pretty much scarred Sebastian – and me – for life. And *something* tells me her real name isn’t even “Grammy.”