It started out like any of the countless other flights I’ve taken in my life…
John and I were the last to board the Ryanair jet headed to Porto, Portugal from Paris.
Two women had gotten confused and sat in our seats by mistake, but we told them not to bother getting up, we’d just take their assigned seats and they could keep ours. The Universe was not to reward our amiable gesture.
I slid into the window seat, leaving my spouse stuck in the middle seat, which for some reason I can’t fathom, he honestly doesn’t mind. I settled in hoping to take a nice nap on the early morning, two-hour-and-20-minute flight. My left ear was aching, trying it’s best to put a damper on my trip, and a nap might help.
It began shortly after takeoff. Louis, the 18-month-old baby sitting directly behind us with his parents, began to fuss, steadily kicking the back of my seat. No worries. Most kids settle down — 15 minutes tops.
Thirty minutes later, Louis is still going strong, having turned it up several notches. I know his name was Louis –and not Damien as in The Omen, though I soon learned that would have been more appropriate– because I heard his parents saying “Louis!” repeatedly in exasperation. Initially, I felt bad for the parents. Anyone with kids has had at least one episode with an inconsolable child.
An hour into the constant wailing, I lost all empathy for Mama and Papa. My ear hurt and a screaming baby was not what the pharmacist ordered. Who brings an 18-month-old baby on an airplane without any toys, finger food, bottle/sippie cup — ANYTHING with which to distract or pacify said baby? The two clueless parents behind me, that’s who!
Louis is now in full-throttle meltdown at 30,000 feet. The entire plane is silenced by one little French kid having a temper tantrum of Olympic proportions. Any would-be parents contemplating parenthood who were sitting on Ryanair Flight 1734 have since decided they will never procreate.
I glanced over my shoulder, along with dozens of other people blatantly staring at Little Louis and the Progenitors Who Couldn’t Get Their Progeny to Shut Up, to see the tiny tyrant pummeling his mother in the face with his fists. Her response? Pass the wee boxer to Grandpa who promptly deposited his legacy in the aisle where the kidlet lay kicking and screaming, almost frothing at the mouth at this stage of his tirade.
All three flight attendants descended on Row 7 and in rapid-fire French explained to Some People Should Never Have Children (or at least never bring them on an airplane) that Louis couldn’t block the aisle. Mama figured out, with prodding from one of the flight attendants, that pacing the aisle with her offspring might be something to try. Of course, Louis was too far gone at this point for a little stroll to soothe him. But at least his earsplitting screeches were in the rear of the plane and not directly behind my aching ear. On the road, you have to count your blessings — no matter how small.
John, ever resourceful, had resorted to making temporary earplugs by shredding pieces of his red bandanna. This proved to be a stroke of genius because Louis quickly returned from the rear of the plane to astound us with the range and volume of his vocal chords and throttle us with the occasional kick to the back of our seat.
And so it went for two hours and 10 minutes until finally, exhausted, Little Louis passed out in his dad’s lap. Game over. Louis:1000. Parents: Zilch. When the plane landed 10 minutes later, everyone clapped. Thank God, Louis didn’t stir.
You’ve never seen 200 people get off a plane so fast, each casting a eye toward the Family to Avoid as they fled to the terminal.
John and I made our way to Porto, ears ringing from Louis’s Lullaby, where we proceeded to play tourist after lunch and a quick nap.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and is known as Cidade Invicta (Invincible City). We took in the Clérigos Tower and its attached church, both built in the 18th Century.
From there, we made our way to the famous Lello Bookshop.
I was enjoying the incredible interior of this unique bookstore, busily snapping photos when…
I lowered my Smartphone to stare into the eyes of an 18-month-old strapped to his father’s belly in a Snugli-like contraption.
For one terrifying moment, I thought I had come face-to-face with — LOUIS! My heart skipped and my other ear began to hurt before I realized that the little boy before me was not He Who Should Not Fly.
Not taking any chances, I exited the bookstore and recounted my PLSD (Post Louis Stress Disorder) experience to John. Ever considerate, my husband suggested a nice glass of port might be in order.
We strolled to a sidewalk cafe, sat down and raised our glasses in a toast — to Louis! May He Who Should Not Fly (for at least a couple of years) live long — albeit more quietly –and prosper.