Far too often I see my friends take their parents for granted. Not me.
For the first 20 or so years of my life I also took my folks for granted—becoming annoyed with words of advice, and irritated with parental nagging. These days, though, I can’t get enough of my parents, and instead of complaining to friends about how I would do so much better without them (as most of us did in high school), I now glorify their greatness to my peers.
“Think of my dad as Will Ferrell funny, Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible II) cool, and Warren Buffet smart,” I brag to my new Charleston friends.
But I think the best part about realizing how special my parents are is being able to laugh at/with them about things that used to flat out embarrass the hell out of me (see my Dad’s issues with the interracial handshake).
To sell my mom short would be to call her an “amazing woman.” She is a tenured marine biologist who works for the University of Maryland and is regarded as one of the top professors in science education. She is beautiful, accomplished, fit, and friendly.
But for all of her greatness my mom has one, hilariously frightening flaw: Airports. I don’t know what it is, but when she walks through those revolving glass airport doors, some sort of primal switch turns on in her head, turning everyone in the airport into dire enemies, and like heavyweight boxing legend Joe Frazier once said, “I just see red.”
There was once a time when my Dad and I would attempt to offer apologies to every person she skirmished with, but the fierceness of her glare soon halted our speaking out of turn for good. I love my mom very much, which is why I am completely fine offering this tale of her inability to operate cordially in airports.
Last spring, our family (mom, dad, and me) took an amazing vacation to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Per usual, my Dad and I played follow-the-leader (mom) in the airport that day.
Everything was going smoothly. Then, out of nowhere, an over-zealous, Hawaiian shirt-wearing father tried to join the rest of his family a few places in front of us in line. It’s instances like these my mom anticipates. Like an attack dog let loose on bank robbers, she charged the family with terrifying force, “NO! NO! Uhh uh. I don’t think so. There is absolutely no way he is getting in front of everyone in this line,” she exclaimed while pointing to a line of ten or so people. Confused, the man looked at his family, then demoralizingly at the ground, and without saying a word, beckoned them to the back of the line. Time saved: 2 minutes.
After a thorough reprimand of the ticket attendant for taking too long to print our boarding passes, we were off to the metal detector and security check. The line’s wait time was close to nothing, unless, of course, the TSAs (who for some reason always have an unwarranted sense of entitlement) were to find you suspicious and conduct a “random” search. As always, my dad made an appropriate joke in an inappropriate situation. Out loud he wondered: “Why do TSAs get guns when we paying passengers aren’t allowed to bring shampoo on the plane?” The result was an instant search of his person and belongings.
Seeing this, I yelled to my mom who was already sprinting down the terminal to our gate. She whipped around, almost knocking into one of those trolleys that carry handicapped and lazy people to their gates. “Watch it,” she screamed.
My dad, clueless of how this supreme waste of time was profoundly affecting my mother’s current panic state, was adoring the search. “Michael how could you be enjoying this? We’re going to miss our flight,” my mom said as my dad’s smile flattened. “This is ridiculous. He has NOTHING on him,” my mom told the TSA agent who was receiving some sort of sick, vicarious pleasure out of my mother’s anxiety.
A couple minutes into the search we saw the family who my mom had exiled to the back of the first line walk by us all giddy and smiling. My mom’s face turned a deep crimson color. Luckily at that very second, the TSA, and the greater Baltimore/Washington International Airport for that matter, avoided disaster by letting my dad free. Time saved (lost): -5 minutes.
After an all-out sprint in which my mom looked like a white, female version of Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson, we found ourselves at Gate 22… I peered up at the screen that ran our flight information. It read, “Departure time: 1 hr 22 minutes.” All I could do was smile…