When Fate Kicks Ass

My sister is a special ed teacher. 

‘Tis a noble and challenging profession and I admire her deeply.

But…..(and there always is one, right?)  she has developed an aversion to communing with anyone under the age of 18 during the summer months unless it’s her own grandchild who is the messiah so you might want to pull out your Rapture Preparedness Kit and keep it handy unless you’re one of us who will more than likely be left behind.

So, sister  has to get on a plane to come see me  and this means lots of kids crammed on airplanes with Hello Kitty suitcases and bad moods whose parents have all lost the ability to hear. 

It’s the same every year.   I endure The Questioning of the Hostess.

SISTER

There won’t be any kids at your house, right?

ME

No.  Your son and your nephew are childless, your grandson lives in Canada and I don’t have a uterus so there’s been no miracle birth at my house lately.

SISTER

I know that, smart ass! I mean none visiting or anything.

ME

Did we just meet?

And she arrives.

I see her coming down the escalator at the airport.

Uh, oh.

What?  No hug?  We get to the baggage claim and still no public display of affection.

ME

Bad flight?

SISTER

See that kid over there?  The one in the striped shirt?

She points to a nice looking boy of about 11 across the carousel holding the hand of another little kid.  They wave at her.  She plasters on a steel trap grin and nods her head.

She speaks through gritted teeth.

SISTER

He started talking in Kansas City and didn’t stop until we got to San Jose. He and his little brother were unaccompanied minors.

ME

Are those his grandparents?

A nice older couple also waves.  They’re a cheery bunch and it distresses my sister even more as overly cheery people often do. I can relate. 

My sister begins to crumble.

SISTER

Oh, god. He wore me down.  It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. 

I’ve never seen her like this. 

It scares me. 

Who was this alien creature and what has it done with my sister???

ME

Do you need a Valium?

SISTER

You don’t understand.  I think it was some sort of Twilight Zone thing like that one episode where William Shatner sees the creature on the airplane wing but no one will believe him? 

She is more agitated now and I think I’m on the verge of panic myself. 

Stay calm. Blink hard.

SISTER

This was fate kicking my ass.  I know it.   I mean, it was like he had a mission or something.  I know EVERYTHING about him.  I know that his mother died when he was 4 and his step-mother is really nice but she’ s not a multi-tasker and has to go take a nap if she has to juggle dinner and homework at the same time.   I know his father doesn’t believe in any of that Buddist nonsense.  I know about every kid in his class and how one of them was in special ed and how he always wondered if retarded people ever grew out of being retarded and I told him, unfortunately no, but I knew adults who had actually grown IN to it.  Oh, god. I actually had conversations with this kid. 

I pull my sister over to a bench and sit her down.   She wiggles out of her overstuffed backpack.

Let’s try a little levity to ward off the meltdown since funny cures everything. 

ME

Damn, Wily Coyote!  What’s in this thing.  An anvil?  I think you might have damaged a vertebrae or cut off blood to your brain.  Okay, there you go.  Panic’s over.  It’s all good, right?

She looks me straight in the eye.

SISTER

I will never complain again.

ME

Cool.  Let’s go get your bag and we’ll be out of here in a jif.  What does it look like?

SISTER

It’s black.  And sqaure.

Fast forward to the farewell.

My sister smiles and wraps her arms around me at curbside.  We have had a wonderful time together.  She insisted on going places where there would a critical mass of screaming, unruly children.  It was glorious.

But now it was time to go.

Her backpack is light as a feather since I removed the travel iron, the blow dryer, the Ugg slippers, the giant Harley Davidson sweatshirt and full change of clothes that she packed “just in case”.  She has her passport even though she is travelling within the confines of our own country.  She claims it’s easier than pulling out her driver’s license.

ME

I love you. 

SISTER

I love you too but I love kids even more.  I mean, I really, really love them!

And I watch her leave.

And I am alone again.

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Dan
Dan
August 12, 2009 8:09 pm

This my dear sister is why they invented i-pods, eye covers and alcohol is served on all flights. Mace is also available if needed.

Julie
August 15, 2009 10:18 pm
Reply to  Dan

….or those giant Bose noise-cancelling headphones work…

Joanie
Joanie
August 12, 2009 10:17 pm

As you know by now, the trip home was even worse. I sat by TWO girls that actually did the Moon Walk in their seats and chanted about missing their dog named Reno. I couldn’t decide if I was seeing So You Think You can Dance or American Idol. I left on my sunglasses and they kept talking about me being dead. What they didn’t know is that I was about to do away with them! Yes, the i-pod saved their precious little lives. Oh, did I forget to tell you that the kid on the flight to CA has… Read more »

Julie
August 15, 2009 10:20 pm
Reply to  Joanie

Them Portuguese really know how to cook! Did he give you some recipes?

Joanie
Joanie
August 12, 2009 10:18 pm

p.s. How long until my iron arrives?

Julie
August 15, 2009 10:22 pm
Reply to  Joanie

You mean the anvil, right? Oh, about a month or so since it weighed 82 pounds and I sent it the cheapest way possible. The mule is being shod as we speak.

Dominic
Dominic
August 13, 2009 5:42 am

I have visions of that Airplane scene of different ways to kill yourself.Are we really so disconnected from interaction that we all have these stories? Do we text eachother, so no other information can be passed? Do we get to the point so we don’t have to stay in the same room? My mother has a ‘Thing’ she wispers in my ear NPL, Not People Like Us.
What say you, too serious? Because I have a million of those airplane stories.

Joanie
Joanie
August 13, 2009 11:22 pm
Reply to  Dominic

Hi Dominic, I bet you have lots of stories from years in the sky! The little guy was lucky I didn’t have the i-pod yet. He was taking his 4 year old cousin back to California after a visit with his family. He took this role very seriously. He promised his father he wouldn’t let his little cousin out of his sight, not for even a minute. I told him I would watch the cousin so he could use the restroom but he refused my offer. I told him I didn’t think his cousin could get very far since we… Read more »

Julie
August 15, 2009 10:24 pm
Reply to  Joanie

I call bullshit-liar-liar-pants-on-fire, Sister Sledge! I think the Bro is right! That little one was slinking away from you at the baggage claim.

Julie
August 15, 2009 10:29 pm
Reply to  Dominic

Dom,

I think it’s natural to be disconnected when you’re thrown together with a herd of humanity, none of whom have been properly introduced yet invade your personal space with their elbows and over-packed bags on wheels and giant cups of Starbucks half-caf, low-foam, quarter pump vanilla lattes while chatting loudly on their Crackberrys absently dragging a screaming spawn down the center aisle with….oh, my. I’m sorry.

Linda
Linda
August 13, 2009 6:37 pm

I put a curse on Joanie before she left since she kept rubbing it in my face that “I’m going to California and you’re not – na na na na na na” …although she did tell me the night before to pack a bag and go with her..such a sincere invitation. I’m glad to see that my curse worked! I can’t think of a better person for this to happen to..I just wish I could have been there to see it. And a final parting thought..since at one time they lived in Arkansas – they may be related to us..isn’t… Read more »

Dan
Dan
August 14, 2009 2:07 am

Be honest Joan. The thought of stuffing them in the overhead crossed your mind at least once.

Joanie
Joanie
August 16, 2009 4:42 am

Okay, okay, I’m trying to get myself excited about going back to school Monday so I am in a state of turmoil. I will soon be surrounded by 10 kids that are all screaming at the same while they wet themselves or dig in their noses for some sort of lost treasure. Unlike the step-mother, I can at least multi-task, or multi-listen! Yes, there may have been a moment when I was looking for a parachute to bail out of the plane. Actually, the kid asked me if people took parachutes on the plane or if they were under our… Read more »

Joanie
Joanie
August 16, 2009 4:43 am
Reply to  Joanie

By the way, the semi brought the anvil. They dropped it at the end of my driveway and now I can’t get my car out.

Dominic
Dominic
August 16, 2009 5:50 am

I’m scared again. I am off to Phily/Deleware tomorrow. I-pod check.Portable dvd player Check.Laptop Check. oh shit a dark looking guy, with a funny accent and a shitload of electronics…. no one except homeland security will start a conversation

Joanie
Joanie
August 31, 2009 2:09 am

I heard if you pass gass in that chamber that blasts you with puffs of air you will test positive for explosives.
Really, no shit!