Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Daytona Beach 7.7.05 and 10.7.05: Flea-Free Beds, The Screamer and the Chatterer

Traveling: en route to Daytona Beach for meetings. In the company of travelers: that rather banal phrase somehow resonates for me today. The journey of life, in which we are never alone. I’m aware especially of how ever other traveler shares my aches, pains, angst—in his or her own way.

It’s consoling to think this. I look at men as fat and aged as I, and I think, “I’m not the only one on this planet who bears some pain.”

At the end of the day, every Chaucerian pilgrim has tired feet, weary eyes, perhaps an aching head. We all long for a comfortable bed free of fleas, and, we hope, without too many bedfellows. And now my pen runs out of ink.

+ + + + +

The trip: I had the ill fortune to be seated not once but twice in front of misbehaving children. On today’s flight from Cincinnati to Little Rock, I was in front of a Screamer—a carrot-topped little tyke who was already warming up in the waiting room.

There, she toddled to a bank of pay phones beside me and proceeded to pull them off their hooks as her indulgent papa watched, well, indulgently. Having taken them from their cradles, she then banged them stoutly against the sides of the phone booths. Nary word from papa, sitting splay-legged and grinning across the way.

As the flight neared, she was put into a stroller and commenced to scream, sharply and with apparent connection to her ensconcement in the stroller. The screams were absolutely ear-splitting and erratically timed, so that you couldn’t predict when they’d come and so brace yourself. They were obviously sheer theater.

And so it continued on the plane. I’d just begin to sink into my book when a spine-snapping shriek would commence right behind me. Intermittently, the shrieks would be replaced by sharp kicks, right in my kidneys.

I finally had enough of the latter and leaned back suddenly and viciously just as she launched a kick. Perhaps her father, in whose lap she was sitting, realized then I didn’t welcome the kidney jabs, because they ceased.

What can he have been thinking?

From Atlanta to Daytona, a little boy 4 or 5 sat behind us and me and spoke/sang/vocalized non-stop in a high, voluble monotone. He was a Chatterer. When he ran out of words to say, he flapped his lips in a machine-running sound brbrbrbr, or sang a version of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” with words known only to himself, apparently.

His nanny, as it appeared the woman with him was, sat beside him murmuring dreamy replies and never once informing him that she could hear perfectly well if he lowered his voice 8 decibels.

The monologue went something like this:

God! That puddle is so big I’d have to put on my bathing suit to go through it!!

We’re so high the houses look like pieces in an Erector set.

God! That cloud’s a tyrannosaurus rex!!

Brbrbrbr. I’ve been lurking on the nailroad, all the liplong way.

Is it supper or lunch? When did we eat breakfast? We got up so early, didn’t we?

Brbrbrbr. I’ve been snurking on the tailtoad, all the middling ray.

Does the sea go on forever? Can I see dolphins and sharks from here?

God! I can’t wait to get my hands on that beach!!! No supper for me, just a sandwich on the beach . . . .

On and on and on, until we landed and the beach claimed him . . . .

No comments: