Tag Archives: kids

Lame Adventure 440: Destructive Forces

When I was a scrawny kid standing barely four feet tall and weighing no more than forty pounds, my mother viewed me as a condensed package of pure trouble. She never wanted me near anything mechanical. She was taking no chances to give me any opportunity to break anything. She was certain that if I held my father’s “electric eye” movie camera I would drop it, the mix master was for someone else to use as I watched, and I should just forget about ever making a milkshake in the blender on my own. When I would enter a room when guests were visiting I was subject to “the look”, a fiercely watchful eye that screamed:

Mom: Don’t touch anything!

My dad would allow me to blow off steam and let loose my inner maniac. I would sit in the driver’s seat of his car where I would go crazy playing at the steering wheel. The engine was always off so there was no chance I could floor the accelerator I couldn’t reach and drive through a wall.

Fast forward to this year, early October. I’m walking down Hudson Street en route to my bank when I see a sight so incongruous, I almost throw out my neck: a mint condition Beatles lunchbox circa 1965 hanging off the handlebar of a stroller. It’s being pushed by a nanny tending three small fry. That happened to be the exact lunchbox I wanted when I was in first grade, but it cost more, so my mother bought me a compromise solution lunchbox featuring the Flintstones. The nanny’s charges were a tot of about two, a toddler girl around four and their big brother, a boy, I guessed was six and probably in first grade.

Me: Excuse me; I remember that lunchbox in my youth. May I photograph it?

Nanny: Of course! His father loves the Beatles. Everything with his daddy is the Beatles.

Does Mom have the Hope Diamond lying on the coffee table?

Does Mommy use the Hope Diamond as a doorstop?

So this lunchbox belonged to the little schoolboy. I thanked her for her time and moved on imagining that Daddy was at least my age, obscenely wealthy, and Mommy was a trophy twenty-five years his junior. Later I researched what a Beatles lunchbox in mint condition is worth: about a thousand dollars. There’s one on eBay priced at $6,500. I wondered what that kid’s lunchbox would look like at the end of the school year. Dented, scratched and battered? Who in their right mind would allow a six-year-old to carry his PB&J sandwiches in a collector’s item that will only increase in value over time? This isn’t yeah, yeah, yeah, but no, no, no! I ordered myself to calm down. Who am I to dictate what people do with their collector’s items? Let it go, or how about, let it be?

At month’s end, I spent a weekend on the West Coast with my siblings, Dovima and Axel. My sister lamented about how she wished she still had the Beatle fan book that she bought in 1964.

Me: It’s in Dad’s house.

Dovima didn’t believe me, but I assured her it was indeed there. It took us two days to dig through the entirety of our family archives, but finally, I unearthed it buried deep in a file box tucked high on a shelf that had not been opened in well over thirty years. My sister was elated. Hero-me gloated.

Back in the hands of its proud owner.

Back in the hands of its proud owner.

As we looked through it for the first time in decades, Dovima, in her excitement turned to the third page, but I insisted:

Me: Turn back; let’s look at it from page one.

On the lower right corner of page two we saw this.

Dovima was calm. I dropped a barrage of f-bombs.

Dovima was calm. I dropped multiple f-bombs.

I have no recollection of when or why I wrote my name on it, but possibly it was for  a school show and tell or maybe it was in frustration when my mother refused to let me set my own alarm clock or sharpen a pencil or ring the doorbell. Obviously, Mom did not keep me away from pens. I hope that that schoolboy with the Beatles lunchbox doesn’t follow my lead and do something stupid like give them all goatees. As for Dovima, when we saw that the autographed centerfold was still intact and unscathed, she breathed a sigh of relief. At least I managed to control my impulse to be the fifth Beatle, and I refrained from being the ultimate imbecile by signing my name with those of the lads from Liverpool.

John, Paul, George, Ringo and what a relief, no sign of me.

Signed John, Paul, George, Ringo and what a relief, no sign of me.

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Lame Adventure 392: Feeling Foolish While Silently Screaming

No argument from me.

No argument from me.

Halloween has never been my thing, but I gave it a shot back in the day when I stood armpit high to an upright meerkat, or if you prefer, when I was short and six. My mother suffered the migraine headache of a lifetime, more specifically one that spanned eleven minutes, deciding how to dress me. My first grade class peers in San Francisco circa 1965, were girls eager to be Cinderella, Snow White, Suzy Homemaker or a ballerina; the more demented ones, all four combined. Mom knew if she forced girly-girl garb on me, my reaction would be on par with starting a holy war. I wanted to be Superman, Zorro or a Beatle, even Ringo. None of these guys rated Mom’s seal of approval.

So hand in hand, Mom and I entered Woolworth’s where we reached a compromise solution: an urban caveman in a dress, Fred Flintstone.
My Fred costume was the cheap Ben Cooper brand made from flame retardant vinyl. It was comprised of a screen printed Fred tie and a smattering of black spots signifying either a pre-historic animal pelt or some scary melanoma. But the pièce de résistance was an allegedly ventilated plastic mask shaped like Fred’s smiling mug. The mask was held in place with a narrow elastic band that hugged the back of the head. Holes were cut in Fred’s eyes and in the vicinity of the nostrils guaranteeing that at precisely thirty-eight seconds of wear alleged ventilation would give way to minor asphyxiation and a face soaked in sweat.

At this juncture I should mention that not only was I short but I was slight in build. Or as my reliably image deflating mother was quick to say to anyone from my father to the butcher:

Mom: She’s forty-two pounds soaking wet!

Mom alternated this observation about my slender physical presence with another dose of confidence implosion.

Mom: She turns sideways and she disappears.

It never occurred to Mom to pad me to look more Fred-like. We just accepted the fact that I resembled Hunger Strike Fred. After completing her role in costuming me, Mom passed the baton to my father. It was Dad’s job to take me out trick or treating. Since most nights it was chilly in the City by the Bay and a damp foggy mist often hung in the air, Mom bundled me in my dark red corduroy coat, a coat that completely hid my costume prompting candy givers to ask:

Candy Giver: And who are you supposed to be?

Even at that tender age, I found it astounding how many people failed to recognize Fred from my mask. I wondered how culturally vapid were these folks? Looking back, this initial glimpse of cluelessness was good preparation for insights about the human race, offering hints that we descended from rocks.

Together, Dad and I trolled our neighborhood. I appeared on doorsteps in exchange for candy that would be inhaled back home by my two salivating older siblings, Dovima and Axel. They had stopped trick or treating years earlier so it was my job to take one for the team. I was grateful that they ate the candy. Born sweet tooth deficient, my snacks of choice were fistfuls of dry Cheerios, lightly buttered rye toast or if I was really lucky, a dish of boiled spinach drizzled with olive oil. My sister, Dovima, who to this day could still easily eat herself sick on milk chocolate if she did not keep both hands in restraints, often said to me:

Dovima: God, you’re weird.

If my mother had issues with my slight stature, Dad, in Mama Rose-style, was quick to stage direct my projection of the phrase, “Trick or treat.”  This was a phrase I tended to mumble in a near inaudible whisper. To this day, I remain soft spoken. My Ethel Merman-esque father is a guy who was born to shout from the rafters, “Sing out Louise!” On that brisk Halloween night, he groused at me.

Dad: What’s the matter with you? Why won’t you shout out ‘trick or treat’ so people can hear you?

As we bickered on an elderly widow’s doorstep, I insisted that was exactly what I was doing, but he disagreed. I knocked feebly on the lady’s door and said the go-to phrase in an anemic whisper. Dad resisted the urge to smash his head against a wall. We stood for a three count outside the lady’s closed door, waiting. Another three count passed. The response was the same, continued silence. Exasperated, Dad bellowed in a demanding 38-year-old male bass baritone that resonated throughout the entire neighborhood and possibly crossed the California state line deep into Nevada:

Dad: Trick or treat goddamn it!

The elderly widow’s porch light shut off. Dad and I were left standing in the dark.

Dad (with renewed calm): Let’s go to another house.

Back on the sidewalk he urged:

Dad: Don’t mention this to your mother.

Me: Deal.

Note: I wrote this post as a contribution to the series Remember the Time, a dumping ground for old school stories co-hosted by Emily at The Waiting, who has been very supportive of Lame Adventures, and Kelly of Are You Finished Yet?

rtt-new

Lame Adventure 381: The Dog On the Plane

I have recently returned from visiting my family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Golden Gate Bridge photographed by the back seat photographer.

The Golden Gate Bridge photographed by The Back Seat Photographer.

Excluding the nine hours of my life I burned getting there and the twelve it took to return to New York, were it not for the hassle of traveling, it was a welcome getaway. Whatever anxiety I suffered on the plane immediately dissipated when I was reacquainted with one of my favorite relatives, Thurber, the family dog.

The Back Seat Photographer's assistant.

The Back Seat Photographer’s assistant.

Because I only see Thurber twice a year, it heartens me that he remembers me. My sister, Dovima, thinks this is due to his natural canine instinct i.e., he knows that I am a dog-lover, a friend who’ll play with him and someone he can reliably count on to scratch that itch behind his ears. Splashing myself liberally with steak sauce might also encourage these feelings of mutual affection.

Thurber catching a few pre-walk z's.

Thurber catching a few pre-walk z’s.

When I was sitting in the lounge at JFK airport waiting to board my JetBlue flight west, I noticed that there was a fluffy mop of a pooch lying peacefully in the seat to my right. Her name was Ginger. She was so tranquil. I was impressed. I smiled at Ginger’s owner. I wanted to say something complimentary, something flattering, something that would make this woman beam with pride about having such a well-behaved pup. But I was a bit crispy fried from working at The Grind before racing to the airport. The best that mush-minded me could offer was:

Me: Your dog’s so relaxed. Is she sedated?

In response her owner was silent. She smiled shyly at me. I felt like a jerk.

When it came time to board, Ginger obediently entered her pet carrier. Once inside the aircraft, I was stuck in the middle seat between two women. The rotund woman radiating heat sitting on the aisle seat next to me noticed that it was not a full flight. The row ahead of us was empty. She asked a flight attendant for permission to move. It was granted. I was so elated with her taking charge, I considered proposing, but I decided it might be best that I take a vow of silence across the country. I wish I could say the same for the three-year-old of indeterminate gender sitting two rows ahead of me. This moppet shouted in an outdoor voice for the entirety of the flight — with fatherly encouragement. How I would have loved to wield a burlap bag full of mashed stone at him.

From the vantage point of my aisle seat, I saw that Ginger’s owner was sitting across from me but one row ahead. When we were airborne, I noticed that Ginger was once again out of her carrier. Her owner was cuddling her.

Cuddle-time with Ginger.

Cuddle-time with Ginger.

The air conditioning was at Arctic-level so the cabin felt like a flying freezer. Snuggling a warm beast in a frozen tube at 35,000 feet must have felt comforting. I would have loved to stuff Ginger’s forepaws in my ears to silence that squealing kid.

A flight attendant with a figure reminiscent of a prison matron cross-bred with a brick wall motored down the aisle. Her peripheral vision saw something suspect. She instantly slammed her brakes, backed up, hovered over Ginger’s owner and read her the riot act.

JetBlue’s JetPaws rules and regulations insist that pets must remain in their carriers at all times. This includes during the flight as well as at the gate. This second rule I have seen violated on numerous occasions without incident. But seeing someone cuddling a pet on a plane was new to me.

Ginger’s owner did not object to the loud dictate. In fact, she didn’t speak. She obeyed. I wanted to break my vow of silence and pipe up at Turbulence In Orthopedic Shoes:

Me (piping): Hey! What about telling Dad to make his brat shut the hell up?

Apparently JetBlue’s rules for demanding silence from a three-year-old shouting six hours straight in confined quarters requires that the kid simultaneously bust out a window, ignite a fire and demand more Terra Blue chips. Therefore, Turbulence In Orthopedic Shoes was steering clear of that infinitely more combustible situation.

For the remainder of the flight, every so often Ginger’s owner would pick up the pet carrier and embrace it. Sometimes she’d zip it open and slip her hand inside to pet her furry friend. All the while, that kid loudly bleated and Dad gushed praise at his progeny. Outside of three soft yaps emitted upon landing, Ginger was silent as the dead. I swallowed a fistful of Excedrin and wished that JetBlue had a toddler-sized carrier that could be stuffed under the seat.

"Okay, let's take a walk!"

“Okay, let’s take a walk!”

Lame Adventure 358: Grumpy Young Man

I work in Tribeca, a picturesque neighborhood in Lower Manhattan lined with ancient cobblestone streets and ornate pre-war buildings radiating character and charm.

Franklin Street

Franklin Street

It is a trendy area housing some of the most expensive real estate on Manhattan Island. This is also a location that’s heavily populated with swells, many of them the name-brand variety.

Authentic cobblestone street.

Authentic cobblestone street.

In mid-afternoon, when I run errands, I encounter pampered youngsters clad in their colorful cold weather togs as they’re being met after school by their trophy wife mothers or their fulltime nannies. Everyone looks fashionably chic until I wend my way through the crowd, upsetting the style balance in my drab uniform, the type of duds that scant wages can afford. Compared to the beautiful mothers in their cutting edge fashions, my modest attire, best suited for office work or captivity, bears a distinct resemblance to offal.

The view out my office window.

The view out my office window.

One area where everyone is equal, at least when outside, is the great outdoors where we all suffer the consequences of the elements. Now that the season is the dead of winter, there have been days when the temperature has been frigid cold. Often, noses and eyes run like faucets.  Even when bundled up, any exposed skin can instantly suffer searing pain.  Therefore, it is best to walk at a quick clip, if only to sooner regain sensation in one’s face.

Bright blue frigid cold sky.

Clear blue frigid cold sky.

On an afternoon when the air was feeling particularly arctic I was walking up Hudson Street toward the pretty Powell building behind a handsome lad that looked to be about six.

Powell Building

Powell Building

He was walking hand-in-hand with his mother, who was in her thirties.  He was wearing a blue parka and bright orange corduroy slacks. Mom was nestled in a floor length shapeless black down coat that looked familiar to me. It brought to mind a sleeping bag with sleeves. She must have missed the winter fashions newsletter. Appropriately, they were walking briskly, but not as brisk as motoring me. Just as I was overtaking them I overheard a snippet of their conversation:

Mom: When we get home I’ll make you a sandwich.

[pause]

Boy: Shit!  It’s cold!

Although I was thinking the exact same thought myself, overhearing the little man drop the s-bomb was a most unexpected surprise. What really made me feel a bat squeak* of unease was that his mother seemed a-okay with it. I did not hear her admonishing her son in the least.

Had I the nerve to casually bleat that curse in the earshot of my mother when I was six, she surely would have detonated. As a child growing up in the sixties and seventies, an era when you served time rather than take a time out, my mother would have beaten every future utterance of both that word and the substance out of me. A beating that might not have ended until I reached age thirty.

That evening, I dined with my friend, Milton, and recounted what I had heard.

Milton: Are you sure he said “shit”? You know your hearing’s not the greatest.  You could have misheard. Maybe he said another word that sounded like shit?

Me: What word sounds like shit other than shit?

Milton looked perplexed. He suggested:

Milton: Sheeeeeeee ahhhhhhhhhhh taaaaaaa, it’s cold!

Me: That kid didn’t say, “Sheeeeeeee ahhhhhhhhhhh taaaaaaa, it’s cold!” That kid said “shit”. Even my deaf ears know the difference between shit and shinola.

I know shit from Shinola.

Shinola on display in Tribeca.

*Thank you Kate Shrewsday for adding “bat squeak” to my vocabulary.

Lame Adventure 308: Little People Power

I have never been compelled to spawn.  The second Someone I’m Dating declares:

Someone I’m Dating:  I want to have children!

I declare back:

Me:  See ya!

I know that I’m about as maternal as an oil slick, but I instinctively allow children and their parents/nannies/caretakers priority.  Translation: I get the hell out of their way.  It recently occurred to me that I’m not the only one following this unwritten rule.  As I was recently walking down Hudson Street in Tribeca to buy a few bananas at a grocer’s near my place of employ, I noticed a footloose toddler who had just been released from the confines of his stroller take off as if he was running the fifty-yard dash.  His mother, who had been pushing the stroller, watched helplessly as her companion hightailed after the wild hombre.

I had been walking at a healthy clip but the second I caught sight of this potential crisis, I downshifted my pace to tai chi speed.  The other pedestrians around me — a businessman and a chap in his twenties — both did the same.  I crossed the street to lengthen my distance from the sidewalk blockade.  Picking up my pace again I pondered:

Me: Wow, you stand 2 ½ feet tall, you weigh 32 pounds, you have an eight word vocabulary, but your presence practically stops traffic.  That’s power!

A short while later, when I approached the checkout lane at the grocer’s with my two bananas I observed that a mile long line of at least eight shoppers waiting at one register, but no one was standing behind the two nannies with four tots in double-wide strollers filling the aisle at the only other open register.  I assessed the situation and ascertained that between the six of them, all they were purchasing was a single bottle of water.  Again, what power!

The chosen few.

On my way back to the office with my bag of two bananas, I saw a girl about five-years-old speed demoning up the street on a toe scooter.   This child was the second coming of Evel Knievel.  Her mother shouted out at her that the chinstrap on her oversized helmet was loose.  Little Evel Knievel-ette obediantly toe scooted back to her mother who presumably tightened the chinstrap.  This did not impair the flow of my thoughts as I was making a mental note to remember to bring home my eight packages of woven tooth twine that night; something I had failed to do the day before.

Haul of floss.

Suddenly my concentration was shattered when I heard the sound of a fast moving toe scooter that seemed to be heading straight for  my back.  The  little daredevil must have been making up for lost time or she was preparing to practice jumping over me before taking on the Grand Canyon a few years hence.  Immediately  I switched gears and did a steady jog when two words from all the French I failed to learn in the five years of pointless study in my youth came to mind:

Me: Zut alors!

As I hot-footed my pace to a fierce trot, my thoughts reverted to English:

Me:  No way am I going to subject myself to the humiliation of being reduced to road kill by a five-year-old burning plastic at supersonic speed!

I returned to my office winded but alive.  I was also impressed with the wee one’s power.

I’m perfectly fine sitting right here.

Lame Adventure 289: Spring Preview!

Even though the weather is chilly again today and it’s not expected to escape the forties on Saturday, this past Thursday we had a lovely sneak preview of spring here in Gotham City with temperatures climbing 24 degrees above average to 71. Yet, it wasn’t a record high.  That was set back in 1987 when it was 76 on that date (March 8th) in weather history. I emailed this news to my Special Someone who has been away and added:

Me: Have I told you that I’ve become a meteorologist in your absence?

After taking a walk outside on this beautiful Thursday, my colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore), was feeling warm when she returned to our stuffy office.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Can we open the door?

She knows I have a peeve about people leaving the door to our office open.

Me:  Why open the door?  Why not open the window?

(not) Under Ling (anymore) gives me a look that asks:

(not) Under Ling (anymore)’s Look asking:  Who’s going to do that?

Me:  You’re practically thirty years younger than me; you’re going to do it!

My Look barking:  You know that there’s no way I’m going to risk pulling, straining or dislocating any precious body part just to open the window.

Hearing that message from My Look loud and clear (not) Under Ling (anymore) carefully climbs atop a counter to open one of our windows.  I build her confidence from the confines of my chair.

Me:  There are bars; you’re not going to fall out [muttering inaudibly] I hope.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) is a very svelte individual.  As she struggles to dislodge the stubborn window she asks:

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Why are there bars on our windows?

Me:  To discourage us from throwing ourselves out.  We set the standard for Foxconn.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Hey, it’s stuck!

Me:  Get Greg to do it.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) asks our department’s hero, my sidekick Greg, to intervene.  Greg leaps into our office in a single bound resisting the urge to sing:

Greg not singing: Here I come to save the day!

Me not saying what I’m thinking if he would sing:  Just open the window, will you?

Greg muscles the window open.

Our first opened window of 2012.

The warm breeze is pleasant prompting me to take a stroll to personally check out just how lovely this day is in Tribeca.  It is a perfect day for many reasons.

Whenever I can forgo boots for sneakers I have happy feet, even though the seam from my sock was actually slicing through my little toe like a dagger.

There is torture happening inside this Jack Purcell sneaker.

Cute Italian compact cars look cuter.

A trashed coffee cop underneath barely detracts from this Fiat's cuteness.

Great weather is a great way to flaunt one’s sleeve tattoos.

Rachel who's got great tats flaunting them. My liver spots offer no competition.

Although I have easily walked down this stretch of Hudson Street hundreds of times before, I’ve never noticed this flower power wallpaper until now.

I feel transported back in time to Haight Ashbury circa 1967.

Flower stands just look even more colorful on a warm and sunny day.

I'll take one of everything.

A box of shamrocks offering a blunt reminder that it is still March.

Green beer, green bagel and green tongue-time is coming.

Pursuing a mate.

"C'mon, baby, check out my collection of pizza crusts in my nest."

Relaxing on a Duane Park bench with a Special Someone.

Special Someones Sasha and Vaughn.

It’s a good time to go bopping in a pink tutu.

But keeping it real with the winter boots.

It’s a great time to go tree climbing.

"Bet you can't do this, Lady!" "Bet you're right, Sonny!"

An even better time to pretend you’re an area rug.

“I’m dreaming I'm a shag carpet.”

A building built in 1891 carries its age well under a clear blue sky.

You still look fascinating for 121.

It’s terrific biking weather.

You don't even have to pay to park. Yet.

One of the nicest surprises happens at 6:03 in the evening while exiting the 72nd Street subway station on the Upper West Side.

It's 67 degrees!

Lame Adventure 144: Back in the Snowy Apple

Flying JetBlue out of SFO five days after Christmas was a far less stressful experience, once I finally located hidden underground gate A1A, than my narrow escape from a body cavity search conducted by Francina, the JFK TSA screener who had half the poise and none of the cheer of a concentration camp guard.  At SFO I was subject to a full body screen, albeit not one of my favorite joys in life.  Yet, when I compare that indignation to being pat down by a woman resembling Don Knotts cross-bred with Lassie I welcome being viewed front and back in naked x-ray by a cluster of bleary-eyed strangers.

On my return flight, my seatmates were 8-year-old Wyatt and 6-year-old Adelaide, two California kids who were visiting their Uncle Travis in New York City.  At first, when I saw that I was going to be flying six hours across country with unaccompanied small fry, I thought:

Me:  Ugh, kids.

Very Considerate Woman, who was seated adjacent from me, looked back, smiled and said, “They’re so sweet.”  I considered replying:

Me:  Wanna trade seats?

I reasoned that my young seatmates would be completely preoccupied with the excellent in-flight entertainment system.  Therefore, I’d be able to read my book, Tinkers, essentially undisturbed.  Then, a member of the flight crew announced:

Member of Flight Crew:  Folks, we’re real sorry to have to tell you this, but the in-flight entertainment system is not working on this aircraft.  We’ll give you a $15 voucher for the inconvenience.

Immediately, I revised my thinking:

Me:  Jesus Christ, I’m going to fly six hours across the country with two rugrats denied Nickelodeon!  This is cruel!  This is torture!  This is inhumane!

Adelaide:  Does that mean the TV doesn’t work?

Me:  Yes.

Adelaide:  Will they fix it so we can watch it later?

Me:  I don’t think so.

Wyatt:  Are we not gonna have TV when we fly back?

Me:  Let’s hope that you’ll fly back on an airplane where the TV works.  JetBlue has a lot of airplanes, so hopefully, when you guys fly back, you’ll be on a better one.

Adelaide:  I hope so, too!

Following that exchange, the three of us hit it off quite well.

For a while Wyatt, who is a very artistic, somewhat shy boy, drew in his diary, and he also made a paper airplane with nice lift, but we only flew it amongst ourselves.  Child expert me laid the ground rules:

Me:  Let’s not do anything too stupid that gets us in trouble, but a little stupid’s okay, all right?

We were all in agreement and I was Marshall of Stupidity, a role I was born to play.

Adelaide, who has endless personality, confided that her brother’s nickname is “Quiet Wyatt” and she’s “Applelady Adelaide.”  I resisted the urge to deliver a boring lecture about Wyatt Earp and the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls featuring a character called Miss Adelaide.

Adelaide wove a worm into her wooden apple toy during take-off.  We played with Wyatt’s stuffed blue dog, Spots, and Adelaide’s elephant, Stuffy.  I pointed out that Stuffy and I had comparably sized noses.  I taught Adelaide the word ‘tomato’ off the beverage card.  I got one of the crewmembers to give airplane-loving Wyatt a copy of Popular Mechanics to peruse, but explained to him that the $7 in his pocket was not quite enough to purchase the $54 million helicopter that caught his eye.  They used their useless headphones to play racecar.  Adelaide had the card game War in her backpack, but they converted it to Go Fish and cheated each other ruthlessly, reminding me of when I played cards with my brother, Axel.

I regretted not buying a fresh pack of gum when I picked up a New York Times pre-flight.  I always purchase fresh gum when I fly, but I still had a few pieces of the stale stuff from six months ago, and figured I’d make due since I am not a gum chewer.  I felt selfish sneaking a piece into my mouth as we took off, but when we were descending Very Considerate Woman offered her gum.  I handed it to the kids.  Wyatt took a piece and shouted, “Thank you!”

Adelaide the Alpha took four pieces, prompting me to gasp in a voice worthy of Dave, the Chipmunks handler:

Me (as Dave):  Adelaide!

Adelaide (as Alvin):  They’re for my uncle!

I mouthed “real sorry about that” to Very Considerate Woman.

Very Considerate Woman:  It’s fine.

Upon landing, Adelaide announced triumphantly:

Adelaide:  I was bored the entire time!

I was primarily focused on the kids throughout the flight, but I did notice the guy sitting across the narrow aisle from me praying silently and deeply into the religious medallion around his neck during takeoff and landing, prompting me to think, “Like that’s gonna spare us from doom bub.”  Possibly, Adelaide noticed him, too.  I am by nature fatalistic, except when Adelaide asked me if we could crash.  Then, I dug out a degree of moldy optimism that had gathered cobwebs in my mind over the course of the last 40 years, dusted it off and assured her:

Me:  We’re going to arrive New York safe and sound.

Apparently, Very Considerate Woman glanced back at us so often, it prompted Adelaide to ask me:

Adelaide:  Is that lady your mom?  She keeps looking back at you!

Very Considerate Woman was easily five or ten years my junior.  At that moment, I felt so flattered I would have voted charming little pistol Adelaide for mayor – and I am sure she would have taken the recent epic snowstorm that buried New York City far more seriously than a guy named Bloomberg.

Welcome home.