Flying without kids might just be the most relaxing vacation of all

features@islandpacket.comJuly 13, 2014 

20061213 Bumpy flights

People without kids get to sit on the sunny side of the airplane.

BEDISON — McClatchy-Tribune News Service

So I am on a plane right now, without kids. I am, however, seated behind a mom with two kids, small kids, adorable, well-behaved kids, one in a car seat, one not, both of whom are behaving heroically and both of whom I'm glad are not mine.

Flying with kids makes you really, really happy about one thing: Flying without kids. In real life, I'm a moody jerk who dislikes most people (particularly those at airports, or who appear on airport televisions, or are the people who've decided that airport televisions need to be kept at volumes loud enough to alter the orbit of the Earth), but when I'm flying by myself, I turn into an incandescent ray of plaid-clad sunshine who literally creates bioluminescent light wherever he goes. For instance, upon boarding, I let someone cut in front of me at the gate. CUT IN FRONT OF ME! I haven't done that since like the fourth grade, and that's because it was a girl and I thought you were supposed to do that sort of thing for girls. (Naturally, she ended up having a crush on my arch-nemesis Chris Kirkpatrick, probably because he was the only kid in the class who spelled better than I did.)

I don't want to say flying with children is the worst experience one can have in modern America, mostly because it's much, much worse than all of the other ones put together, made into a Michael Bay movie and broadcast on a cable-news channel with a country music soundtrack. Yes, country music is terrible. Please direct all hate mail to my editor, whatever her name is, I can't remember, because I'm blissfully enjoying the glorious wonders of solo air travel.

I mean, this is a joy. I'm writing a column, on a plane, on a machine that otherwise would be used to broadcast "How to Train Your Dragon" across two seats of squirming offspring. I would be directed to obtain a chocolate milk box, then try to stab open the chocolate milk box with a straw, then spray chocolate milk all over 28C because of misfired straw-ing, then hand the chocolate milk to someone who decided he actually meant applesauce, then tell that person to stop crying, then drop "How to Train Your Dragon," then drink the chocolate milk myself and wonder if it would be possible to sneak down into the cargo hold for the duration of the flight.

I'm not doing any of those things. This mom is, though, and she's doing it herself, and she's killing it. The kids are burbling and giggling and happy, and she's friendly and not mentioning the word "Benadryl" every four seconds, which, again, I might have done once or twice. We're hitting some turbulence, and the chattering knobs in the row behind me are whining about it more than the toddler.

I'm also starting to notice things about air travel I haven't noticed when flying with kids, such as all these other people, and the windows. Did you guys know they give you peanuts on planes now? Sweet. Wait, they have DRINKS, too? And one of them is COFFEE? I should really go on vacation more often; this is some sort of indulgent wonderland up here. As a bonus, the Wi-Fi doesn't even work. I pretty much feel like a king.

Mostly, I feel relaxed. I can glimpse this mom's box of Land-O-Lakes milk and some spinny, lighty-up thing that probably contains candy and, if I could hear it, would play some song I'd hate. (I can't hear it, because I can listen to my own music on this flight. MY GOD, THIS IS AN AIRBORNE TAJ MAHAL.) I'm sure there will be a day soon when the kids will be back on board, and this will all melt into the brain space reserved for pleasant memories, and to the mom one row ahead, one day you too shall know this joy. In the meantime, keep up the good work. If you need anything, wake me up.

Jeff Vrabel would love some peanuts, thanks. He can be reached at www.jeffvrabel.com and followed at twitter.com/jeffvrabel.

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