My first thought was "I hope those two boys don't sit next to me tonight..." as I watched more passengers slide down the aisle of the plane. I was in a window seat for the first time in weeks and my 6'4" body does best on the aisle (or in 1st class!). I dreaded the idea of kids climbing the seats and chattering for the two hour flight. But I had a thought that made me keep my eye on them for a moment. "Maybe if they sit next to me I can trade this window for the aisle seat! YES!" I thought it was a brilliant idea and after a long week on the road I was in a very selfish mood. To my dismay the boys and their father passed my row and I realized they were sitting down right behind me. They seemed polite and quiet and I hoped for the best.
Just then another passenger stepped into my row. PLOP! I swear the plane squeaked as she landed in the seat. She started digging for the seat belt and muscled her fingers under my legg and I barked "excuse you!?" "Oh sorry - hee hee!" she shot back. "I need to get the seat belt buckled to this extender or they will kick me off!" she boldly explained. Her voice was as loud as the dress that covered her 300lb+ body. I told myself "this is what I deserve for being selfish". My punishment was two hours in plane purgatory, smelling some kind of body powder that I was certain would turn into sulfur. My cell phone was in my pants pocket and I couldn't squirm into a straight angle to retrieve it. I couldn't text for help, I couldn't call a friend and I couldn't launch Angry Birds. I had no lifeline, I was doomed.
"You boys remember to share that window" he told them "Yes-sir!" they each replied. As I tried to find a distraction in the Sky Mall magazine the boys behind me caught my attention. They had a native Georgia accent and spoke with a level of intellect and innocence I would not expect from a 10 and 9 year old. I guessed at their ages. As the plane taxied toward takeoff they unzipped zippers and ripped apart Velcro on their travel bags. "I found my iPod" one of them gleamed. "Here's the headphone splitter" the other boy replied. I become impressed at their conversation and behavior. "Dad, when we take off can I take pictures out the window?" the older one asked. The younger one started asking when he would get the window seat and Dad simply said "that's the last time I want to hear that - you boys stick to your plan and share". And that was the last I heard of that too!
The plane climbed through the take off rush and the boys were reciting all the sounds on the way up. "Did you hear the landing gear close?" "yup, you hear that winding as the wings flaps came up!?" "yeah! this plane is fast - we are climbing way higher!" Their enthusiasm was contagious and I found myself listening and grinning. The plane banked and I felt a tummy tickle and both boys shouted "Did You Feel THAT!". "Y'all hush! - not so loud!" and that was the last I heard of their Dad's voice for the remainder of the flight. We broke through the clouds and the 10 year old said "I can see all the way back to the mountains" and #2 said "lemme see". I twisted my neck enough to peek past my seat and could see both faces pressed to the window. For the next 10-15 minutes they traded one amazement after the other. I was peering out my window and trying to keep up with what intrigued them and hadn't realized that the obligatory drinks and peanuts were being served. As the cart got close, the boys were quiet and just watched "the pretty lady" as they described her. "Coke Please" they each said when she asked what they wanted to drink. They happily told each other "I got two!" - "I got two too!!" as she passed onto the next row. I quickly deduced she was as impressed with them as I was and gave them two bags of peanuts each. I felt excited for them and started to wait for their next move.
Over the next hour and a half I was completely possessed by them. On the descent they found kids on skateboards on one street, then two buses stopped nose to nose at an intersection "they probably have bad directions" one of them said. I laughed out loud. As the plane dropped lower and lower they giggled as it rocked back and forth. Oblivious to any power line, or runway shreds, or any type of air travel risks and dangers. They took me with them in their imaginative minds. It was a most memorable and safe flight.
Deplaning can be the slowest thing to wait for when you are in a hurry. And I wasn't taking a chance with the 5XL blue and orange dress next to me. I told her "I need to make a connection so I will have to get out quick". She said "Oh okay! I usually like to wait for the end... but we'll get a move on then". Boy - was that a smart move on my part.
Some how the boys and Dad got ahead of me as she moved her last 90 pounds into the aisle. I slipped in behind her and grabbed my bag from the overhead. I quickly caught up to her cuz she actually had to squeeze both aisle seats past her hips as she moved toward the door row by row. Her nylon dress made a zzzrrrrt zzzrrrt zzzrrrt sound as the upholstered seats rubbed against her. The sound reminded me of new corduroy pants worn for the first time. The stewardess recognized me from previous flights and gave me a pitiful, sympathetic look that I could only try to smile back at. My face must of said it all cuz she beamed a huge laughing smile back at me.
When I got into the concourse I saw the father way up ahead with both boys, shoulder to shoulder, towing their bags just behind him. They didn't lose a step. It was what I expected to see from my two new favorite flyer friends.
I hope to see them again someday ... and thank them for being my lifelines and turning that flight home into a remarkable memory.