My dad is a pilot. He flew for the Marines. He flew for two airlines. He flew for humanitarian aid and for Jesus. He’s not kidding around, y’all. My dad FLIES.
My mom, in what can best be described as a fit of youthful exuberance and a desire for marital bliss and, you know, to have something in common with him (which is exactly why I’ve learned to use math analogies when communicating with my husband), acquired her private pilot’s license approximately 40 years ago. Seriously, if you were, like, on board an airplane when some horrific medical event occurred that took out all of the pilots and flight attendants and a desperate person stood up and screamed, “WHO IS GOING TO FLY THIS THING?” … you would want my mom to be there. ‘Cause she would march her tiny little self up to that cockpit, declare that she is SO the boss of it, and then land it safely. After which, she would make everyone brownies because she knows that brownies always make everything better. My mama is a fly girl.
I am, therefore, the daughter of two people who independently, of their own free will, and without guns to their heads chose to operate teeny tiny tin cans WAY up in the air.
You guys, I know that Wilbur and Orville Wright are revered as the grandfathers of aviation and credited with building the world’s first successful airplane. But I’m pretty sure they weren’t so friendly with our good friend, Sanity. Because here’s their story:
Wilbur and Orville Wright:
A History by Beth Woolsey
Two brothers earned a living making bicycles.
Then they were all, “DUDE! Let’s make an airplane!“
Which brings me to this: people who launch themselves at fifty-bajillion miles per hour into the air and then keep climbing to 30,000 feet are off their rockers.
And the only thing crazier than flying is listening to flight attendants deliver “emergency landing” instructions prior to take-off as though it’s possible to walk away from A TIN CAN THAT FELL 5.6 MILES TO THE EARTH.
I don’t like to fly.
But I do it. I stick my tongue out, neener-neener style, at my fears and to show them who’s boss. It’s important to me to live my life and to not let my fears live me. Take THAT, Fear of Flying, I shout, giant bottle of Xanax rattling in my upraised fist.
Because I don’t like to pass my Xanax-chewing ways on to my children – all of whom get giggly and say, “WHEEEEE!” upon take-off without the aid of benzodiazepines – I play along with “emergency landing” instruction time.
“Ssshhh,” I say to my kids while flight attendants don their bright yellow life vests and mimic blowing air calmly into the red blow-tubes as though we wouldn’t be passed out from hyperventilating or smoke inhalation or, you know, BEING DEAD. “We have to listen so we know what to do in case of an emergency, kids.”
And then my children pull out the safety instruction cards from the seat pockets in front of them, and, bless their sweet little hearts, they read the whole entire thing. And I, their calm, cool, collected mother who just LOVES airplanes because, by God, I AM FROM GOOD, SOLID PILOT STOCK, answer their questions.
“Mama? Is that a SLIDE?”
“Yes! Doesn’t that look FUN? AND, if we land in water, it’s also a BOAT.”
“WHOA! And why is she taking off her shoes?”
“Well, probably so she doesn’t poke a hole in the boatslide with her high heel. That would be bad.”
“TOTALLY BAD, Mom! ‘Cause then the boatslide would SINK and we would ALL DIE, right?”
“Yep, Mom. I’m pretty sure. They’d ALL DIE from being drownded.”
“And, Mom? This picture is where the WHOLE PLANE IS ON FIRE. Right, Mom?”
“Um. Right, baby. That’s an engine fire. But see how this little book tells us what to do and where to go if the plane is on fire? So do you see which exit we use?”
“Well, yes, Mom. We use that one right back there. But you know what part of this book is my very, very favorite?”
“What part, baby?”
“It’s this part right here.”
“Because this is the part where they’re all already dead, right, Mom? So they don’t even have to do anyfing at all!”
He reported this with a gleam in his eye and rampant enthusiasm.
If I didn’t know better, in fact, I’d think he was messing with me.
The fearless little punk.