I was in a stuffy aluminum box suspended somewhere in European airspace at an altitude of 39,000 feet, summoning all the restraint I could possibly possess in the inner alcoves of my soul to resist throwing Lucifer’s Spawn out of the window. And I would have, if his antithetically angelic twin sister wasn’t sitting between us. Instead, I gripped the Hemingway I wasn’t reading with a strength that I didn’t know my underdeveloped muscular system could sustain, and tried to channel my inner Ghandi with peaceful resistance.
Probably sensing that I was on the verge of strangling the seven year-old (who was currently scaling the seat in front of him like a budding Tarzan) the Air Serbia stewardess gave me a sympathetic smile and asked me if I wanted a drink. I wanted a Ginger Ale but I was committed to speaking in Serbian for the entirety of the month and I didn’t know how to translate that, so I just ordered an orange juice.
Half an hour of manic wails courtesy of the Spawn, a whole cup of mediocre orange juice, and two sentences about bull-fights in Spain later, it hit me. I was going to be living with my grandmother alone for a whole month in a town where barely anyone spoke English, and I just struggled to order a Ginger Ale. Panic ensued.
The calm Ghandi-like front I had been building since the plane wheels left the tarmac at Charles De Gaulle was still intact, but on the inside my mental breakdown level was Amanda Bynes circa 2014 with the Twitter rants and airborne bongs. How was I going to live without WiFi for a whole month? Without anyone that would actually understand my jokes? What if me and my grandma had nothing to talk about? Would she let me get a dog? What would we even do every day?
Before my self-inflicted cerebral interrogation successfully lead me to the procurement of a parachute and the will to jump ship, the same stewardess asked us to fasten our seatbelts because the plane was beginning its descent into Nikola Tesla International. The Spawn, of course, didn’t oblige and kept trying to crawl underneath his seat to reach for his father, who was seated directly behind him. I had assumed much earlier in the flight that his parents must have disowned him as soon as they set foot on the aircraft. They sat right behind us and were audience to all of his shenanigans, yet they said nothing. Because, naturally, when you’re an incarnation of the devil the mere force of parental guidance can’t save you.
Maybe this non-refundable ticket to Annoying Arab Children on A Plane: The Musical was some kind of poetic justice for whatever disasters I’d orchestrated as a young child. But yes, Lucifer’s Spawn was Arab (what are the odds!) and I was deeply humiliated on behalf of my Fatherland. I was getting simultaneously annoyed and worried for the child’s life as the plane started doing the slant thing. But thankfully, a split second later, I had an idea that would later manifest into the best moment of my life.
Abandoning all semblance of a mantra of peace, I looked the devil-child straight in the eye, and in the thickest most intimidating and unexpected Bedouin Arabic I could muster, I bellowed:
“PUT YOUR SEATBELT ON, BOY!”
Now, I’m not a child terrorizer by any means. But to be fair, even 600 words on an obscure blog in cyberspace are not enough to express how obnoxious this kid was and how the trip was the longest two hours of my life because of him. So try to sympathize with me when I say that the sheer petrification in the wide eyes directed at me gave me even more satisfaction than the perfectly engineered macarons I had just barbarically scarfed down in Paris. He finally looked away, scrambled to put his seatbelt on (hallelujah), and huffed as he crossed his arms, moodily muttering under his breath. He didn’t look like a soldier of diablo anymore; he had been reduced back to his human form and was now just Ali.
In that moment, all of my doubts about the impending month of my life evaporated into the stale cabin air. If I could battle the devil with my glare and offbeat Lebanese-laced Jordanian Arabic alone, I can make this the best month of my life with minimal effort.
TO BE CONTINUED