*This is a true account – I promise, for once, I didn’t exaggerate a single thing.
I first noticed her when she sped by the line of passengers waiting to board pushing a double stroller with twins and a middle-aged woman plodding along behind her. She had that self-satisfied strut, her large hips swinging. Her nose stabbed into the air so high, I wondered if she had a turd under it.
I paid her little mind until I boarded the plane and found that I would be sitting across the aisle. Her scathing words flustered the unfortunate flight attendant to distraction.
I felt at once embarrassed for this woman and humored. It was as though I had stumbled onto a comedy film set with an over done stereotype. The stepmother in “A Cinderella Story” (starring Hillary Duff) came to mind. She even looked similar. Surely someone, at any moment would pop out and say, “Smile! You’re on candid camera!”
Her voice dripped in overconfidence and condemnation with an accent that pretended to be upper class.
“Now, you just take your time, Miss T, and don’t let anyone rush you,” she addressed the nanny who was wrestling overstuffed bags into the overhead compartments. She glanced around at the flight attendant, attempting to offer assistance, and bullied her out of the way. “You don’t let anyone get you stressed out.”
At this point, I tuned the woman out and muttered under my breath, while my neighbor chuckled heartily. “I don’t think the nanny is the one stressing out.”
After a healthy round of musical chairs, while the flight attendant tried to arrange the unyielding woman, her two-year-old twins, and the nanny into safe positions (because of airbags and such), the entire back half of the plane was choking back giggles of horrified astonishment.
I pulled out my magazine, swapped a discreet eye roll with the tall athletic man seated beside me and delved in, hoping the excitement was finally over and we could move on with a peaceful (and thankfully) short flight.
My hope was short lived.
Our characters played out like this:
The mom, with the two-year-old girl on her lap seated across the aisle and one row up from me. Beside her sat a very unfortunate teen-aged girl.
In front of me sat a man with dark hair and beside him at the window the friend of my window-seat companion.
Across from me was the nanny – same age as the mother, I guessed them to be somewhere in their forties. She held the two-year-old boy and beside her sat a rather unfortunate middle aged gentleman.
Behind us was one (maybe two) rows of men pitying the rest of us.
I had only read a sentence or two when the nanny caught my attention. “Do you have a pen or pencil?” She signaled to the boy on her lap. “I thought I’d let him draw.”
With a slight eyebrow raise I dug out my pen and handed it to her and realized she didn’t have anything but the in-flight magazine for him to draw on. I fetched a few papers from my writing notebook and handed them over. I quickly realized that they had nothing for these poor kids to do and expected them to be magically entertained during the 90 minute flight.
I began reading my magazine just as the mother turned and held out her hand asking me my name. She gave me a half handshake, her fingers curling daintily over my fingers. The little girl won my affection for a few moments of adorable peek-a-boo before I dove into my magazine… again.
I didn’t get too far. The conversation flying between the mother and nanny was too captivating. Every ten seconds the mother got after the two-year-old on her lap for pestering the teen-age girl beside her, who was feigning sleep (wish I had thought of that). In the lulls the nanny and mother were flinging backhanded compliments at each other like tennis pros.
Then the flight attendant began her trip down the aisle with the drink cart. The mother whacks the nanny on the knee. “Miss T, do you have the sippy cups?”
Miss T pointed to the overhead compartments. “Up there.”
The mother got to her feet, plopping the two-year-old down in the seat to terrorize the teenager some more. After a few minutes of digging, insulting, and driving the poor man she’s leaning over completely nuts, she looked at the nanny. “Which bag?”
“The other one.”
This sent me giggling into my magazine.
Sippy cups retrieved, she plunked back into her seat – thankfully, she remembered to remove the two-year-old first. By now the twins were getting bored and unruly. Both women tried to discipline while contradicting the other.
The drink cart drew closer and the mom reached back and whacked the nanny on the knee again. “Would you like some adult juice, Miss T?”
My head popped out of the magazine like a jack in the box about to be run over by a mac truck. Did I seriously just hear that? A mother offering her NANNY alcohol at ten o’clock in the morning?
I gulped down the healthy dose of judgement racing through my veins and delved back into my magazine. The drink cart came along and I couldn’t help a glance. Sure enough, the nanny snagged a bottle.
The flight finally drew to a close. The intermittent shrieks and wails from the kids were nothing compared to the growing barrage of over-the-top behavior from the adults. Every other sentence from the mother was about her father, apparently a pilot, who would set the flight attendants straight and what not. I tried to be polite and nice to the kids, as did the others around me. I suppose we all kind of liked kids and felt supremely sorry for them.
The nanny waved her hand in my face, capturing my attention. I glanced up into her red grinning face as she lurched from side to side. “Heaven help me, she’s drunk!” I thought to myself. (She had snagged a couple more bottles while I was trying not to be judgemental and reading my magazine.)
She stuck her hand out. “I want to thank you for being so nice.” Her words were thick and slurred as she seized my unwilling hand. “I don’t mind a proper handshake. I’m from Kentucky and we do things proper there. None of this limp stuff.” I managed to extract my hand before she shook my arm from my body.
My thoughts reeled through my head. “This woman is beyond drunk. She’s PLASTERED!!”
I watched in mounting horror as she proceeded to hit on the gentleman beside her, who now was holding the boy so he could look out the window. Her arm snaked around the back of his neck as she breathed heavily liquored words into his face. “You’re so nice. Thanks for being so understanding.”
The mother turned in her seat slightly. “You picking up another man, Miss T?”
The man leaned his head back and shot me a desperate eye-rolling “save me” look at which all I could do was shake my head sympathetically. She proceeded to pull out her phone and type in, what I assumed (or desperately hoped anyway) was some bogus phone number.
The nanny continued plastering herself on the man with loud smacks and fingers in his hair as he cringed further and further into the window.
At one point, in response to some comment I missed from the nanny, the man said, “You’re over paid.”
The nanny, laughing as though it were the greatest joke she’d ever heard, flung a hand up on the mother’s shoulder. “He thinks I’m over paid,” she squealed as they dissolved into laughter.
The captain made the announcement of final descent and the mother glanced around at us. She pointed in turn at the teenager, myself, and the middle aged man. “I want to thank you, and you, and you for being so understanding of my children.My father is an airline pilot and I’m going to be sure you each receive a free complimentary ticket.”
“Yeah right.” I mumbled and the man beside me, who had to take his earphones off (again, why didn’t I think of that??) smothered a laugh.
“You just check your mailbox and don’t be surprised when a ticket appears.” Then she jabbed the man in front of me in the shoulder. “But not you. I seen your eye rolls and rude faces. I don’t know if you don’t have kids–”
He sent her a withering look. “Oh, I have kids. I just know how to take care of them.”
We all silently cheered. Completely unabashed she and her nanny railed on him the rest of the way as we taxied to the gate. The seat belt light flashed off and the nanny said the first decent thing I’d heard all morning from either of them, all be it horribly slurred. “Now, let’s just wait here while everyone–”
“Nonsense.” The indignant mother surged to her feet. “I have just as much right as anyone else here. They can wait for me, just as easy as I can wait for them.”
None of us budged. We all sat, waiting for them to LEAVE. They managed to free their bags after a five minute struggle and stood, waiting to disembark. The nanny accidentally hit the unfortunate soul who wouldn’t be receiving an airline ticket on the shoulder.
“Oh pardon me if I hit your shoulder with my coat zipper,” she said and continued to thunk it irritatingly into his neck and shoulder.
I smothered a disbelieving guffaw. Hand over my mouth I struggled to hold back the barrage of insane laughter as they made their loud brash way down the aisle and off the plane.
I stood and turned glancing at my fellow passengers. Unable to hold back the tide any longer I burst into gales of laughter. The others joined me, relief flooding the cabin. I turned to the middle aged man. “I have to say, I admire your amazing patience through all of that.”
He gave a rueful smile and chuckled.