Hey Mollyhall, the world really sucks today. Could you please tell us a story?
hey, beautiful moonbird. i know that yesterday was pretty brutal, and i know that for a lot of people today isn’t going to be much better. sometimes the world is like you looked under your bed and found a tin of rotted, moldy christmas cookies that your grandma gave you no less than five years ago and there’s a whole ecosystem in it.
on those days you’re like, “wow!!!!! i don’t want these cookies at all!!!!! there’s nothing good about these cookies and i hate them!!!!!” and i get that. that’s normal. the thing to try to remember is that the cookies were made with love, and the tin is washable. we can make new cookies to put in the tin. i’ll make them with you. they’ll be rainbow colored.
anyway, here’s a brief story about a time that i had to emergency land with my brother in an airplane.
so before i moved in with my mom, my brother and i would shuttle back and forth from my dad’s house in massachusetts to my mom’s in virginia. we’d fly as unaccompanied minors, which, if you don’t know, is the absolute best way to fly and if i could convincingly play a 10-year-old i’d do it every time. as an unaccompanied minor you are the most important person on the plane, which suited both my constant need for attention and inability to complete very simple tasks without firm guidance. sometimes the captain comes out to talk to you and gives you a sweet pin with wings on it. you get to board before everybody else, which is probably the feature i miss most about no longer being young and vulnerable.
my brother and i are very different people, by the way. i can be best described as “a corgi that is always furious when you aren’t feeding or petting it,” and he’s more of, like, a lizard that wants to be left alone and wishes people would never look at or notice it.
- “the way you talk about your brother did not prepare me for him being hot,” is something a friend said to me once, which, first of all, that’s a Wrong And Bad thing to say, but also probably very fair considering i just called him a lizard.
- i just mean, you know. temperamentally.
on these plane rides i would always get out of my seat as soon as we were allowed to and wander up and down the aisles, talking to people. i truly believed that everyone wanted to talk to me, The Cool Kid With The Wings Pin. in hindsight, i am very sure that everyone one of those gentle souls wanted to be left alone to read their john grisham novel, but they were all sweet to me regardless.
all of this is basically to tell you that once, my brother and i were flying from my dad’s to my mom’s–or maybe from my mom’s back to my dad’s?–when the plane, like, malfunctioned. now, i was a wee little butterball so nobody on the plane thought to sit down and explain to me exactly what was wrong, but i remember that the plane started to shake really badly.
the pilot did that Calm Voice Of Authority thing that pilots and headmasters do where he said, “we’re going to have to emergency land at a different airport*, everybody stay chill,” in the same tone of voice you’d ask someone to pass you the salt.
- *for some reason, i think the different airport was in connecticut?
my brother, who was born a 90-year-old stand up citizen with the tax code memorized, immediately began to try to comfort me. but i was just a Smol Bean who had not yet been touched by death and didn’t understand the concept of mortality, so i fully Did Not understand why he was being so nice.
- “it’s okay, molly. we’re going to land and they’ll fix the plane and it’ll all be fine.”
- “yeah, i know, that’s what the pilot just said.”
- “there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
- “of course there isn’t, nothing bad has ever happened to me and nothing bad will ever happen to me because i’m Me and that’s not how the world works.”
- “we’re going to make it home tonight.”
- “UNLESS we get to stay at a HOTEL by OURSELVES!!!”
- “no, that’s–that’s not…..okay.”
i remember that i kept trying to unbuckle my seatbelt so i could get a better look at the window, and my poor brother had to very patiently hold my hands away from the buckle to be like, “FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE PLEASE LISTEN TO THE FIGURES OF AUTHORITY AND DON’T UNDO IT. DO NOT.”
as the plane started to descend, the shaking ratcheted up. like, we went from rocking chair to shake weight in the span of a minute. at this point, all the passengers on the plane are freaking out. everyone was doing that Terrified Adult thing where they were pretending not to be scared by loudly talking to one another about the thing they were scared about.
- “haha! this plane sure is rattling, isn’t it, nancy?”
- “it sure is todd!!!!! it’s like we’re in a trashbin rolling down stairs to our deaths!!!”
- “haha nancy!!!!!!”
- “haha todd!!!!”
meanwhile, Smol Bean Mozzy thought she was on a terribly fun rollercoaster in the sky and was completely unperturbed by what may have been very real danger. my poor brother, however, was swept into the hysteria of the woman between me and the window, an older woman. i kind of think she was wearing a really horribly colored shawl, but i can’t #confirm that because i was very young and who knows where the hell that lady is these days.
“the truth is, if we really go down, there’s very little chance of surviving this close to the front of the plane,” she told my brother, almost preternaturally calm. i think she had accepted that death was probably coming. “they tell you to put your seat back up but with where we’re sitting we’ll be the first to go.”
“um,” said my brother.
- i want to say up front that we were not crash landing. nobody worry. we were emergency landing for a reason i forget, but very probably it wasn’t actually a life-or-death situation except that every tiny mishap on an airplane FEELS like a life-or-death situation because you are in an airplane.
- but don’t worry.
- we were fine.
“we could try getting into crash position,” the old lady suggested, bending in her seat and putting her head between her knees.
good to know at least SOMEONE is listening to the safety announcements, eh, flight attendants of the world?
“you and your sister should do this too,” she told my brother. “like i said, it probably won’t help, but you never know.”
“oh…..kay,” said my brother, who was young enough to assume that adults were always right but old enough to feel like he was getting some weird advice.
he got into impact position and made me do it, too. i mean, i was pretty much that gif of elmo on the toilet at this point, fully unaware of the gravity of the situation.
- “TRALALA I LOVE FLYING AND MILKSHAKES!” - me, while hurtling toward the earth
“these crash landing instructions are probably just to comfort us,” said the Old Woman Ready For Death, blandly. “like putting t-shirts on dogs during thunderstorms. i’ve never understood that, have you?”
“do you think we can get ROOM SERVICE in the hotel room we’re gonna have all to OURSELVES?” i asked, my voice muffled from being between my knees.
“I DON’T KNOW HOW TO ANSWER ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS,” said my brother, distressed and folded in half like an airborne soft taco.
for those of you wondering, we didn’t get our own hotel room. we stopped for like two hours, reboarded, and flew home, where i explained lividly to my father that we didn’t even get FREE FOOD and my poor brother had a quiet meltdown in the backseat, which actually sums up both our personalities back then pretty well.
- molls ofgeo: primarily concerned about food since 1991.
anyway, for a while after that my brother was NOT a big fan of flying. i never really understood why, because all my memories were of being treated like the Queen of England as an unaccompanied minor, but having just told this story, in hindsight………..it seems……….pretty obvious.
like, pretty glaringly obvious, actually.