After four magical days exploring New York City with my daughter and my sister, today I hit a bit of a low point on our flight back to Atlanta. There was bad behavior and bad language, in two languages. I blame Dora the Explorer.
The day started out just fine, thank you very much. Brunch at Norma’s in Le Parker Meridien. A stop by FAO Schwartz to buy Vivi a Pegasus and a little purse shaped like a Pomeranian (just some essentials, y’know). One last hour in our sunlit 39th floor apartment that overlooks 42nd Street. A leisurely cab ride to La Guardia, through the Village and the Upper East Side and across the bridge.
But you know, then the airport had to get all airporty. I got the pat down in security–TWICE–because I set off the x-ray alarm. They’re called underwires, folks. You can’t hold up Mount Rushmore with Scotch tape. Then we stopped to grab something to eat…$29.70 for two sandwiches, two sodas and a bag of chips that I thought were cheese but turned out to be horseradish. Then to the gate agent to see if we could get seats together instead of a row apart, since y’know…she’s SIX. So yes, we eventually got seats together, but the only available were in row 36. That very last row–the one you can’t recline because you’re right up against the toilet wall. Oh, and even though I gave the six-year-old the window seat…there’s no window. Vivi went into a tizzy. She had read all of her books already, done all her word searches, eaten her $8 sandwich, packed away the Pegasus. She was DONE. And so was I. But I sucked it up–it’s only a two hour flight, right?
We squeezed into our seats just in time to watch the show that was coming down the center aisle.
Picture this: a Latina Kim Kardashian, all got up in her best Fifth Avenue getup–luxe hair extensions, brown ostrich feather coat, velveteen kitten ears headband, flowing bell skirt of caramel taffeta. She stalked down the coach-class catwalk swinging two Marc Jacobs bags to clear the way. And guess where she was heading? Seat 35 B. Right in front of me.
The coat was kinda awesome, but it was WAY too much coat for coach. With every motion, the coat generated its own allergic nimbus of brown feather fluff. If the feathers didn’t make you wheeze, her perfume miasma was sure to do the trick. My blood pressure went up immediately. And I started sneezing.
So there we were at taxi time: Weepy Windowless Vivi, Sneezy Me, and Senorita Kardashian.
Fourteen seconds after takeoff, she flopped her seat back and reclined into my lap. My seatback was screwed to the toilet wall, so there was nowhere for me to go as the hazy cloud of ostrich motes whooshed my way. I crossed my legs so that she could feel the gentle pressure and realize that a human being was wedged behind her. Nope. A minute later, she decided to shed the coat and did a push-off maneuver on her seat and a helicopter arm rotation that both crunched my legs and grazed my nose.
I fake sneezed in her general direction. No reaction. I might have escalated with the gentlest of shoves to the back of her seat as I reached to get Vivi a notepad from my bag. She said something to her companion in Spanish and gave me the partial over-the-shoulder stink eye. She flipped her hair up into a sloppy bun, then shook it down. Kitten headband in, kitten headband out. All in my lap, mind you. I couldn’t have been closer if I were threading her eyebrows.
Another flop from her and I responded with a teensy knee bump to her seat. She spun around and gave me the mute WTF face. When she saw the crazy as a shithouse rat look in my eye, she swallowed whatever word she was about to say. I pointed to the seat and did a “were you born in a BARN?” gesture from American Sign Language. She replied with something incensed in Spanish. We glared at each other in a stalemate of bitchery.
That’s when I rummaged around in my Dora-based Spanish vocabulary and snarled, “ARRIBA!”
She recoiled like I had slapped her. Her companion tapped her on the arm and whispered something like “I think she might be crazy just give it a rest, OK?” Senorita Kardashian flipped her seat back up and put her eyes forward muy rapido. And that seat stayed arriba the whole flight.
I was ashamed of my behavior, but couldn’t bring myself to make a Lo Siento. After the plane landed, because we were the LAST seats, I had to pretend not to see her for a good 15 minutes. I chirped to Vivi in my best Definitely-Not-Crazy-Mommy! voice and tinkered with my phone while she and her friend talked about how her son only wanted “M & Ms azul” from New York. Amarillo, rojo, verde…azul. They talked a LOT about M&Ms. I got that part–thanks to Dora.
And hey, if she called me crazy bitch, I couldn’t tell. Thanks for that too, Dora.