Friday, July 4, 2008

Baby Girl Chucky

I was accosted by a baby today. Full on assault. And the thing is, I couldn’t really get back at her because, well, she’s a baby. All I could do was give her a nice little smile and look the other way. I guess a little background is needed in order for me to not sound like a completely soul-less ass. My dad and stepmom (along with other step-relatives) are in Antioch, IL for the 4th of July, and at the last minute I decided to head out that way to spend the weekend with them. As was to be expected, it has proven to be an incredibly busy travel weekend, but I think I got the worst of the worst. After scrambling to pack a weekend’s worth of clothes for unpredictable and unknown weather after work today, I rushed out of my apartment and started driving toward the airport. I got there with time to spare, time that was then eaten up with trying to find a long term parking lot that wasn’t either full or $17 a day. I finally found an empty spot in the $12 lot, got my stuff out, and started walking toward what I thought was my terminal in the 103 degree, breezeless heat. So, there I was, walking at a brisk pace, sweat running down my back, pulling my suitcase behind me. I finally got to the terminal, went inside, and low-and-behold, I was at the wrong one. The right one was about a quarter mile of sweating down the road. Wonderful.

I wasn’t going to let it get me down though. I made it to the right terminal, checked in, went through security (at which point I had to take so much off that I may as well should have gone through naked), and boarded my first flight to Phoenix all within the span of about 7 minutes. The first flight went off without a hitch – although I did have the dreaded middle seat. Oh, and when the woman sitting in the aisle stood up when we got to the gate, she smelled like baby poo. But that’s beside the point. I stepped off the plane and found myself in a place that was more oppressively hot and more desert-like than Riverside. Ugh. Not a fan. The 108 degree blast of air was quickly rectified (and then some) by an overactive air conditioner that gave me the chills. Walking into that airport was like walking into a real-life version of Frogger, the game that my brother and I were so infatuated with playing whenever our Chinese babysitters in San Francisco took us for a night. Darting between people rushing every which way while trying to hold a fruit cup, pretzel, and a phone in one hand and luggage in the other is not quite as fun as jumping from lily pad to lily pad while sitting on a nice plush couch with a controller in your hands. Speaking of that fruit cup and pretzel, I found people in Phoenix (or at least the people at the Phoenix airport) to have a complete disregard for other people’s personal space. My boundaries were invaded relentlessly while I was there, the most blatantly while I was waiting in line for said fruit cup and pretzel. I got into line, and WHOOSH!!!, all of a sudden a woman was standing thisclose to me. Her face was literally 6 inches away from mine. It was the kind of close that you would only want your husband or best friend or mother to experience. She was so close that her pores could have spoken to me, and I would have seen each one moving. Anyway, enough with the pores.

I finally made it on to my second flight, the one flying into Chicago. My seat: 21B. Another middle seat. No big deal, I thought, it’s only a 3 ½ hour flight. It won’t be that bad. I shouldn’t have been so optimistic. I trudged down the aisle, stopping at row 21. I looked at my seat, but I couldn’t see much of it. Now, before I go any further, I need to say something. I am not a mean person. Nor am I racist or religion-ist or size-ist, or any other -ist for that matter. BUT. And there is a but. I do believe that when it comes to airplanes and the already miniscule amount of legroom, armroom, and headroom they give you, if you are overweight, you should have to buy an extra ticket. Yes, there was a very, VERY large man sitting in the aisle seat. I told him that I was sitting in the middle seat, so he started to get up, and that’s when I saw them: a mother and her 1 ½ year old baby sitting in the window seat. So. In a row that, with three people sitting in it, has you running for the exit as soon as the plane touches down, there were essentially five people. The woman, her baby, me, and a man twice my size. Thanks to the large man on one side and the baby on the other, the armrests couldn’t even be lowered. As I squeezed into my seat, I think I said out loud (but under my breath, hopefully), “Oh, heaven help me…”

At first, the baby girl was cute. She was smiley and had several teeth growing in, and would laugh when I looked at her. But apparently she didn’t like something about me after about 5 minutes, because that’s when I saw the devil in her. I have never seen the hairy eyeball like I did tonight. Her face morphed from a happy smile to a disturbed, exorcism-worthy snarl. Honestly, it was quite frightening. And I’m not being sarcastic or witty now. It was the kind of look that made my spine tingle. From that time on, I tried not to look at her. It was kind of hard not to though. When she wasn’t sleeping, she was staring at me. I put my headphones on, started playing Jack Johnson, and pretended to be asleep for a while. But I could still feel her stare. Every so often, I would be jolted out of my calm Jack Johnson stupor by a little hand with a big slap. Yes, that’s right, the little devil baby was slapping me. My leg was usually the target, but a couple times she got my shoulder and once she got my face. I know what you’re thinking – she’s a baby, and babies are kind of spastic when they move, so maybe I was a mistake. Nope. Not a mistake. I would look over at her and she would be giving me the death stare. At one point, the mom even told me that she beats up all of the other little babies her age in her play groups. Jeepers creepers. Needless to say, once the plane touched down, I was off like a prom dress. As soon as I could get by the man in the aisle, that is.

It is now almost 3am local Chicago time, and I have another few hours before my stepsisters’ flight comes in. Once they get here, we’ll pick up our rental car and drive about an hour out to Antioch, where the rest of the family is waiting for us. Until then, I’m at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport USO (United Service Organizations) lounge, which is actually really nice. It’s for military personnel and their families to pass time at the airport… There’s a movie room with a big flat screen TV and comfy chairs, an eating area with plenty of snacks and drinks, a few computers with internet, and even a dark room with cots that you can pass out in for however long you need to. Sometimes it really does pay to be in or associated with the military. Well, I need to find an outlet so I can charge my laptop. I hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July!

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