21 July 2010

Special edition: I don't like to travel near kids

Quiz: does this picture make you want to a) comfort and snuggle or b) run screaming?
This is where I prove undeniably what a horrible person I am. Besides the bad service and hectic seating, I have another pet peeve on airplanes: small children.

I have already named names in this blog (and some of you were pretty pissed about it), so I’ll just start out by saying that, on my recent flight cross-country, I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of my trip with Frontier Airlines.

But when it comes to your seating arrangements, all you can do is roll the dice and hope you get someone good as your seatmate. I prefer the elderly, sullen twentysomethings with iPods, and middle-aged women. I do not prefer small children. I know, their eyes and ears are too big for their heads (cute), their snarled hair permanently, adorably, looks post-nap, and they say the darndest things, but I do not want to sit next to them. And until society gets honest about the necessity of boarding kennels for all children under the age of 12 (am I really the only one who’s thought of this?), you’re always going to run that risk. I had not had the pleasure of a seat kicker, arm pincher, or screamer in my personal space for a very long time, so of course it I had to pay my dues.

I do not know this child’s name because I kept mp3 player turned way up for the entire flight; I will call her Sparkle Toes. I will call her that because she had pink rhinestone-encrusted shoes which felt very bad when pressed into my thigh. Sparkle Toes was seated next to me, and on the other side was her clearly inconvenienced, bleach-haired surfer-wannabe dad. His lack of attention got worse as the flight continued and Sparkle Toes got more and more wiggly, as if he had been forced at knife point to donate sperm and then was gallingly asked to look after said creation. Well I don’t know, maybe he was. Who am I to say?

The first thing I learned about children from Sparkle Toes is that they have a decided lack of a sense of personal space. As an adult, I always make an effort not to rub body parts with strangers because, as much as I would love this (not really), I understand that it might make others a bit uncomfortable. Now, I know that level of awareness might be too much to ask from a 3 or 4 year old—I imagine that’s where the parent comes in. In my utopia, accompanying sperm donor stays awake, watches said wondrous creation, and says things like, “Sparkle Toes, precious child, please stop moving that strange lady’s arm rest while she is resting her arm on it and trying to write.” Or, if you prefer, “Sparkle Toes, magical fruit of my loins, please do not stand on your seat and play with that lady’s dangly earrings. I know that they are very shiny and inviting, but they are attached to a stranger’s earlobe, and you must first ask consent to behave like this.” Finally, how about “Sparkle Toes, dearest darling light of my life, please remove your bare feet from that woman’s tray while she is trying to eat her Combos.”

Rather, when these things happened (and they did), Sperm Donor sighed, placed his early mid-life crisis head on his hand, and turned toward the little t.v. screen in front of him.

Now as a childless asshole, I don’t want to fall into the trap of assuming I know how to parent. I have been told that it’s annoying to actual parents. But this is my theory: toddler monkeys must be taught how to act by adult monkeys, and constant monitoring is necessary in this project. It’s a continuation of my theory on my neighbors’ pit bulls: if they run around and try to kill you every chance they get, it’s not necessarily the poor dog’s fault, but the owner who has not kept up with his responsibilities in training his dog accordingly.

I think it all just sounds exhausting, so I have chickens instead.