No Fear of Flying

I have been fortunate to be a part of a writer’s group that includes good writers and even better people. Today is the first of a three part series featuring the other members of my writing group.

Ronit, the LA lady, is the first up. For the past eight years, Ronit Fried-Mershon has been a stay at home mom in New Jersey. Prior to that she toiled as a television producer where she covered several stories of unruly fliers.

Whenever Ronit returns from a visit to LA, we know we are in for some hilarity, but we don’t know who the famous, nearly famous or connected person she will bump into. In addition, she has the best reading voice which can make characters and scenes come alive. I wish she could read this piece to you. Oh well – I am sure you will enjoy it either way.

Perhaps you recognize me. I am a parent who flies with her children – three of them in fact – across the country, several times a year. And you are someone who falls into one of two categories: The
Sympathizer i.e. You’ve been there, have kids, know what it’s like to fly with kids, and happen to like kids…or you are The Hater i.e. You hate kids, hate people who fly with kids and can’t believe you are a flying on an airline that actually allows children on its aircraft. But if you are reading this I presume you are a member of the former category.

The trick is to load up their backpacks with DVDs, handheld gaming devices, iPods, etc. Happy to have a long stretch of time to hone their hand-eye coordination courtesy of the Super Mario Brothers, and nobody telling them to do homework or chores, the kids bask in the solitude of their video games and movies.

Last year I flew from New York to Los Angeles with not just my three children in tow but also two more boys (ages six and nine). As we boarded the plane the boys quietly took their middle and window seats, settling themselves in with their Nintendo DSs and Leapsters. Along came an older woman to the row, whom I recognized to be some aging c-list actress. She audibly groaned “Oh great. I get to sit next to the kids.” And if that vicious comment were not sufficient, she snidely added, “You boys are gonna behave, aren’t you?”

After she made her obnoxious presumptuous comments, I decided I was going to ensure that her concern would not be the boys sitting next to her, but the offended mother sitting in front of her.

“Look kids, we’re sitting next to a Wicked Witch. Try not to sit too close to her as she might melt you or throw you into her boiling pot of soup,” I said audibly as I pierced my eyes straight into hers.

It is fairly common these days to hear of an unruly passenger/flight attendant/pilot, whose behavior precipitated an unscheduled emergency landing. The alleged perpetrator is ungracefully escorted off the aircraft and forced to find their way back via the confines of a police vehicle and much
ridicule. These alleged perpetrators are almost always of legal voting and drinking age, loud, boisterous and often intoxicated, and sometimes an occasional member of your run-of-the-mill terrorist cell. They are rarely over the age of ten, having consumed nothing more than some artificially-sweetened apple juice or the occasional sip of Coca Cola, and the only cell involved is the one on which they are playing Angry Birds.

I bear no patience for people, who pretend to be adults yet they lack manners to preclude them from thinking before they speak. The comments of this not-so-graciously ageing c-lister were premature.

The flight was uneventful, at best, as all the children were exceedingly well-behaved. The boys sitting beside her did not even get up to use the restroom during the flight. The only disturbance, ironically, came from ageing-c-lister. She spent the majority of the flight sneezing – much to the annoyance of all the other grown up passengers around her, not to mention the two little boys quietly perched beside her.

As we deplaned, the proverbial tail between her legs, ageing c-lister told me how nicely behaved the kids were – something I and all the other passengers seated around me already knew.

“Of course. They’re great kids,” I snapped. I huffed off, leaving her to offend the rest of the deplaning passengers with her endless sneezing.

“Yes they are,” I faintly heard her say.

And perhaps now, those last six hours allowed her to pass into membership of the previously mentioned former category – The Sympathizer.