don't be such a whiner

On the way down to Florida last Tuesday we had a brief layover in Charlotte. When the plane taxied in and parked we grabbed our duffels, unbuckled Calvin and, with one bag over my shoulder, I put Calvin on my hip. I followed Michael, who was awkwardly lugging two bags plus the car seat up the ramp to the gate. We dumped the stuff at the corner of some available chairs and I changed Calvin’s diaper right there on the spot. Michael walked Calvin around the terminal holding his harness reins, the two of them weaving between loitering passengers who were drinking coffee, working on laptops, talking on their cell phones and gawking at Calvin.

After about half an hour and without any advanced notice that boarding would soon begin, the airline representative summoned families with small children and anyone who needed extra time to board. We hurriedly gathered our stuff, I hefted up Calvin and we started to make our way to the gate.

“Hurry up, you’re holding everyone up!” a man behind me irritatingly groused. I turned to see him, clumsily balancing Calvin on my shoulder as I did so, and looked him square in the eyes. He was short, thin and middle-aged with a longish salt and pepper goatee and wannabe-hip, angular black glasses. “You try it,” I snapped back to which he griped, “I already have.” I wanted to say, "I doubt it", or, "oh you think so, do you?" And later I thought I should have said, "don’t be such a whiner", or one of my favorites that I cooked up but have never been able to use, "you're not bad looking but you sure are ugly."

Michael urged me not to engage with the man any further. I thought of what my mother-in-law wisely advises: don't get into a pissing contest with a skunk. I secretly hoped the guy would be seated directly behind us so that he could fully and involuntarily enjoy Calvin’s kicking and flailing and screaming for the next hour-and-half flight (though Calvin ended up being quite composed.) Instead, the man sat one row behind us but on the opposite side of the plane, with his head tilted back, his chin disappearing into wrinkles and folds, as he snored pathetically through a large birdlike nose, his dark gaping mouth no doubt catching flies.

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