Fly the Friendly Skies

One of us is enthused about our 4am wakeup call for our 6am flight back east. But it’s Everett, not yours truly.

Not sure what I was thinking about, booking such an early flight. The online ticket purchasing process is so seamless now. I was seduced by the pretty color schemes, the illusion of getting bargain pricing, the fear of losing my seats if I didn’t click on the NEXT button as soon as the next NEXT button appeared. Ideally hitting the spot on the screen where said button would appear but has yet to appear. A clairvoyant game of digital Whack-a-Mole. Had no idea what I ended up with purchase-wise, but I’m pretty sure I could have won some type of award for speediest checkout ever. Smiling maniacally, sweat driblets forming on my upper lip, holding my breath as I sped through the process out-thumb pecking the other guy I imagined trying to book these very same tickets from his own couch. Have a nice flight, Sucker!

Who’s the Sucker now?

In my haste, I didn’t stop to think about the real-world ramifications of a 6am flight with an 8 year-old. Actually, so far the 8 year-old is not the problem; it’s the 45 year-old who is proving to be the weak link in the chain.

I did my best to pack yesterday for Ev and me. I’m fairly easy, as I’ve just done a couple cold weather packs in the last month. So I can now throw my criticals together at a full sprint, zipping and lifting my “bugout bag” on the move, just as the windbreaker-wearing authorities are in their backswing with one of those big door battering rams you see in the movies. Not a real warrant being executed under threat of force, but as I’ve mentioned before, I like to conjure up this false sense of urgency to add a dollop of excitement where I can, and test myself.

As another example, I like to “light a fuse” on some otherwise mundane personal task, forcing myself to hold my breath until the task is completed. This works great for finding a stick of Orbit in a backpack. Things get a little more tunnel vision-y, though, thumping up and down stairs in a desperate search for the Prius key. Thusfar, I’ve managed to avoid losing consciousness, which is also good for avoiding extra dental procedures. So things are looking good for me.

And so, like I said, I’m easy.

Everett, on the other hand, well, not so much. It’s like shopping for someone who has everything, knowing that no matter what you pick out, it just won’t be good enough. And he won’t hesitate to let you know this; I’ve already admitted how much I fear my children’s wrath.

So I created an illusion, or maybe a diversion. I gave him some “real” choices, and I gave him some “choices.” “Which two of these four books do you want to bring?” “Which flavor of sugarless gum would you like me to grab at the little airport shop for you?” “How about you get the same kind of breakfast sandwich Daddy is ordering, only without cheese?” This is all very different than asking, “What would you like to pack for your trip to Syracuse?” Just takes planning, staying three questions ahead. It turns out that all that law practice & litigation experience stuff really comes in handy here.

Everett didn’t even know what hit him. And the only chink in the armor was when Ev, sitting cross-legged at Gate 64, sighed heavily at the sight of his half-bitten sausage, egg & (no) cheese croissant: “There’s a jalapeño in here!” I apologize to him profusely, and he feels back in control.

NOTE: For those parents out there of my age or older currently shaking their heads or wagging a finger in my direction re the above: Yes I realize that Everett is, in fact, the one actually in control here. Please just play along with me, would you? And don’t tell the others? Thanks very much.

Getting out of the house at 4:15am is an adventure of its own. I pride myself, to begin, on the black-suited ninja tactics I deploy. Awaking with a start four minutes before my alarm would have gone off, swooping past the foot of the bed, using my peripheral vision to identify the dog’s black mass curled on the carpet, so as to avoid tripping over her in the pitch darkness. Dimming the bathroom light switches before even turning them on, cruising across bathroom tile on tip toes, not…making…a…sound.

This all went very smoothly until I had to zip, unzip, and re-zip several of the zippers on the carry on bag with all the zippers that I’d carefully stuffed the night before.

Zip, ziiiiip, ziiiiip zip zeeeeeeeeeeeyip!

I’m certain Hilary heard each pass of coated plastic against coated plastic. It probably sounded like I had unzipped the world’s largest tent opening or the zipper front of Robert Wadlow’s raincoat.

Look, I’m a little sleep-deprived here in seat 26C, and the half-eaten croissant with the speck of jalapeño is sitting on the seat between me and Everett in seat 26A. So I just cannot for the life of me at this moment muster up something that requires a longer zip than that. If you can, insert your better mental imagery of that here. And congratulations.

Wheels up. Thanks for reading.

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