I could hear the boys squirming in bed long before the alarm went off. I rolled over to drowsily check the video monitor; Destroy had located his die-cast toy plane and was flying it around the perimeter of his pillow.
The moment permission to arise was granted the two were up like a shot – rocketing into our room abuzz with pre-flight excitement. Each muppet received a personalized backpack and was informed they could bring one toy in their carry-on.
From the kitchen I heard Jon explain, “No, you probably shouldn’t bring the hacksaw. The security people won’t like that.”
Plastic weaponry denied, breakfast consumed and an ungodly amount of baggage and it was time to embark upon our adventure.
One week. Two 4-year-olds. Four carry-on backpacks. Five (large) checked bags.
Jon pulled up to curbside drop-off to deposit me and our obscene amount of luggage. Curbside check-in was approximately 15-feet to my left. I harkened back to the Gameboy toting, Tetris playing, days of my youth.
The curbside cop laughed at me. “Are those all yours?” he asked incredulously. “How you planning to manage that?”
“I haven’t quite figured that out yet,” I replied. And in my defense the two ginormous black lumps were car seats.
The two car seat bags had backpack-like straps. I slung one of each over each arm, atop my own backpack and purse, while attempting to stack one smaller suitcase atop its set type brethren and pulling those while pushing the biggest case in front of me. Now I had it – albeit at the speed of a snail’s smell.
Perhaps it was the utter adorableness of Search and Destroy, but unlike previous unfortunate encounters with TSA, we got hooked up. Jon had his hands tested for explosive residue and, when none was detected, we whizzed through the VIP line 1/8th the wait of the common people security maze.
Did you know there is a world where travelers don’t have to take off their shoes? My computer remained snugly zipped in its case. Those teetering towers of gray trays for all your personal belongings, keys, electronics, clothing and sense of privacy – did not even exist in our coveted lane.
While Mommy procured some much needed coffee, Search and Destroy raced toward the window. A colorful Southwest jet was speeding down the runway. “IT’S FLYING!” they shrieked.
So far, so good. We might just pull this off yet.
After reassuring both boys that, no, the plane would not fly upside down or fall into the ocean like Dusty Crophopper, we continued down the gangway. Human cattle were herded onto the aluminum tube as Destroy gleefully announced to all around him, “I’m on an airplane!”
Apparently flight makes tiny people hungry because the boys downed seven bags of honey-roasted peanuts. You may be wondering how they procured so many salty snacks as air travel is no longer known for its abundance of edibles. Obviously by charming the flight attendants. Destroy batted his drag-queen length eyelashes and politely entreated another snack after (and here is the key component of this request) using the restroom and not peeing on anything or anyone.
As we began our final descent I heard a yelp, “Ahhh! We’re falling!” Search then looked suspiciously around, unsure of the intelligence surrounding this endeavor. He eyed me with a look that said, “I know we’ve all had Bernoulli explained to us, but how well did anyone really know the guy?”
But all was forgiven as the thrust reversed and a round-out flared – “Wheeeeee!!!!!” they screamed at the top of their lungs. Their grins were invigorating and their laughter contagious. By the time the aircraft came to a full and complete stop, some could have argued the recirculated oxygen had been replaced with laughing gas.
But one last treat still awaited our little flyboys. “Thank you sir,” Destroy intoned as instructed.
I expected to hear a flight attendant say, “You’re welcome.”
Instead I heard the pilot say, “Of course! You want to come fly the plane for a minute?”
What time warp sorcery was this?! First entering the terminal replete with footwear and now to receive access to the hallowed cockpit’s inner sanctum.
Search hung back, skeptical, as he had not yet had the time to perform a full inspection on pros vs. cons. Destroy, on the other hand, charged forward into a veritable Wonka factory of buttons. He beamed.
“Well go ahead, push some buttons,” our captain cajoled. “That red one honks the horn.”
Destroy’s little eyes lit up with such hope. I could also see the worry wrinkle onto his forehead that his parents would veto touching all the things. So I nodded. Horns honked, lights flickered.
The captain leaned forward. “We call that lever there the machine gun.”
Destroy didn’t blink. He yanked back on the yoke, which vibrated and buzzed with what actually sound like the sound effect of an automatic weapon. The joy reverberated through Destroy as well.
My little muppet strutted off that plane like he owned the joint. As we entered the terminal, Destroy paused to momentarily survey his surroundings.
“I flew the plane,” he stated to no one in particular.
I’m pretty sure the vacation is all downhill from here.