"Mom, that woman is talking about Charlie."
We are standing at Delta baggage claim. Standing? Reeling. We are reeling at the Delta baggage claim. In the muddied reflection of the steel luggage conveyor belt, I notice mascara stains the bags under my eyes. My diabetic dog (God, I love him) is whining from his travel case, anxious to be released into the madness of Newark International airport. "Watch your fingers!" I hear a stranger demand of our tiny Houdini who has climbed precariously up onto some sort of airport cart that he's pretending is his fishing boat. In case you're wondering, in this moment, our older son is thirsty. I know this because he has told me every 30-60 seconds for the last 45 minutes.
"Who's talking about Charlie?" I ask defensively. Almost seven now, our eldest knows better than to point. So instead he does an elaborate head tilt that equates to pointing with a huge foam rubber finger. "HER" he stage whispers.
Before I crane my neck to see, I know who it's going to be. It'll be that woman wearing foundation two shades too dark for her skin. That woman with bangs that haven't uncurled since 1987. That woman who has perfected the "Tsk" sound. She uses the "Tsk" sound to scold mothers on airplanes. She is irritated because she was SO into that article about Prince Harry's blazer collection that she just couldn't stand being interrupted by a little child screaming. She has assumed the child is a brat. An obnoxious, ill bred toddler who screams because he can. She's figured the parents are assholes. Solely responsible for her unpleasant one hour and 47 minutes.
I hear her. "...and they didn't shut him up! They just sat there, holding him, doing nothing. Tsk-Tsk-Tsk."
"Listen Lady," I want to say. "When your baby is suddenly awoken from a long overdue nap on an airplane because the captain has decided to tell a joke over the loud speaker, come and find me. When, during the descent, he begins to scream in pain because it feels like his "ears are popping out of his brains" come and find me. When he is sobbing "make it stop" and squeezing his hands to his ears so tight that you yourself begin to sweat through your clothes, come and find me. After you've "done nothing" by pulling out all 32 special toys, books, games, duckies, snacks, juice boxes, and lollipops you've premeditatedly brought on board for just this circumstance, I want to talk to you. When your hugs and kisses have stopped working, and your child has inadvertently unhooked your bra, I want to "Tsk-Tsk-Tsk" in your face. "
How I would love to be the kind of gal who could come up with an Aaron Sorkin monologue on the spot.
Instead, as the lady with neon blue eyeliner continued to regale her friend with tales of "the screaming kid" on her flight, I looked over at my husband. He was pretending to be the captain of Charlie's boat. Charlie's ears didn't hurt anymore and he was reeling in a very big "Holy Mackeral" off the side of the airport cart. My older son had found his oasis in a barely functioning water fountain by the car rental sign and was lapping it up Newark style. I took the dog out of his carrier. He shook himself out and flashed me a smile.
I turned to find that woman. She was gone. I'm sure she's somewhere tanning right now. But where ever she is, poor thing, she's not with Charlie anymore. Lucky me, my little fisherman is downstairs sleeping.