Flying Sisters


"Look. A restroom," said my sister.
"Get on the plane."
"But." she grumbled.
I glared and she walked up to the airline attendant who scanned her phone and then mine.
Our seats were easy to find since the rest were full.
A handsome but stern looking young man, woke up, stood up and let us in to our seats.
"Hi," said Louisa.
He grunted a hello.
I had the window; Louisa was middle, and Mr. Serious was back asleep at the end of our row before we even had our seatbelts buckled.
A haggard looking man skidded in and sat down near the front.
The door closed behind him.
It was not entirely our fault that we nearly missed our six am flight out of San Francisco.

But, before I point any fingers, let me tell you about our trip.
Since it was impossible for my sweet Sven and me to make travel plans together due to the senior care facility we were running at the time for Hunter, the world's oldest and neediest dog and Grandma Meow Moses, the world's even older and most persnickety feline with her assisted living apartment downstairs, patrolled by Tuna, the teenage punk of a cat, who's number one goal in life is to kill the old purse carrying furball, adorned in pearls, I invited Louisa to join me.
She said yes.
We were headed for California to spend a long weekend with my youngest son, Rene, his wife, R.Z. and my newest grandson, Beau.
After Louisa and I made it through security, we spent our life savings in the Madison and then the Minneapolis airport on cocktails, yet somehow, we managed to get on the second plane and were rescued by Rene who scooped us up at the San Franciso Airport.
The following day we took in a Discovery Museum for children and had lunch at a picnic table with a grand view of the Golden Gate Bridge before taking on Sausalito by stroller.
That evening Indian Food was delivered to our front door in Castro Valley, and we all went to bed feeling full, tired and happy.
It was hot the following morning, so we decided on air conditioning and elevators for amusement purposes. Rene took in a chair massage along the way listening to a constant, annoying alarm that was sounding in the mall because half the electricity was out as well as some of the stores closed, and all the restaurant doors locked.
This was not a problem for Beau, as he prefers the wheels on his stroller to stay in motion anyway.
Later we found a Mexican restaurant in Pleasonton to upheave.
What looked like a take-out order situation due to the mood of somebody in a booster seat, turned into a sit-down affair after all. When I had my fill of nachos, I took on Rene's roll of following the little cutie pie around the adjacent vacant room with many a table to inspect, flower decals to sniff and a window to bang on and wave to the patio customers.
Louisa and I walked around the block once home, admiring the neighborhood with all its California flowers.
Nights turn cool quickly in Castro Valley, which made it perfect for grilling burgers, and sipping wine next to the fire on the patio.
Sunday was beach day.
The forecast for Santa Cruz turned out to be cooler and windier than predicted. But it did not deter any fun.
Once we had our tent secured with bags of sand and everything else we had with us, we found ourselves letting cold waves splash our ankles and watching Beau's eyes grow wide with wonder and delight.
Next came digging in the sand.
This was a dream come true for the toddler who showed up at the beach double fisted with shovels. He would still be there playing if it had not been for his parents who said it was time to move on and we found ourselves seated at an outside cafe across the street from a Salsa Band and a dancing crowd.
With enough wind and sun and now stomachs full, we strolled along the boardwalk watching rows and rows of volleyball matches.
The ride home was smooth sailing and quiet.
And then traffic came to a standstill.
This is when the worn-out little beach baby woke up, in his car seat.
And this is when he decided he had had enough with buckles.
Emergency singing took place.
Old MacDonald had a Farm, seemed to be the only thing that could calm the beast.
The face sitting next to me in the back seat, showed a tiny glimmer of a smile with a thumb stuck in it, each time the snake appeared with a "sssss, sssss, here and a sssss, sssss, there, here a sssss, there a sssss, everywhere a sssss, sssss."
Eventually we ran out of animals on that farm and had to make do with, This Old Man who was knick-knacking and patty whacking, and then Mary and her little lamb that followed her to school.
Then we were back on that farm.
I hang my head in shame, but ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, shot out of my mouth when the sleeping baby woke again at a red light a few miles from home.
We pulled into the garage with sixty-four bottles of beer left on the wall and my daughter-in-law's eyes still wide with how incredibly stupid a song that we Americans sing, could possibly be.
"Is there nothing more to this?" she'd said on our third bottle.
We shook our heads and continued to harmonize.
Monday was spent hiking around Lake Chabot, while Mama caught up on some work.
The sky was a deep California blue as I pushed an empty stroller along the trail, Louisa took in the gorgeous scenery and young Houdini enjoyed his father's aching arms.
Back home, Beau and I played and played in his backyard. We threw a football, smelled all the flowers, filled buckets with stones and dumped them out. And did it all again.
We had a real nice time.
A duffle bag of trucks came out and they raced back and forth and every which way across the wood floors before Beau's bedtime.
It was goodnight kissing time when that little fella led us in squats, before he disappeared down the hall for a bedtime story.
Dinner consisting of sushi, Mongolian Beef and a grilled chicken salad, arrived at the door and we turned it into a buffet style affair, enjoying a bittersweet last night.
An Uber ride was reserved for our three-thirty am pickup.
We would slip out while the rest of the house slept into their regular workday morning.
"Louisa, look at this blue dot. It says, no driver available."
Rene came walking down the hall just about then, hair in all directions.
It was three-forty am.
"Hmmm," he said. "That is weird."
He ordered another ride that was due in twenty-three minutes and canceled the reservation on my phone.
It was like that Seinfeld episode.
You know, when the car Jerry reserved was not available when he went to pick it up?
"It is easy to take the reservation," he says to the lady. "You can take and take and take. But keeping the reservation. That is key."
Traffic was light in the dark as we sped to the airport in the back seat of an electric car, with a nice driver who was deaf in one ear and did not speak English.
But traffic was heavy once inside the airport.
With our luck we got the crabby guy at the counter when it came time to weigh our pre-checked suitcases. But he did not yell at us, even though Louisa's tag was a little askew and a total mess, if you must know the truth.
"Oh, my stars."
The chances of the two of us making our flight were looking really slim.
After forty minutes in a bottleneck that was supposedly the line for security, we broke loose and grabbed a couple trays.
A uniformed man was motioning for people to come his way. I went his way and he let a half a dozen of us pass on the outside of the metal detector.
And then he held up his hand, right when Louisa got there.
I had the contents of our trays when I heard, beep, beep, beep and turned around to see my sister with her hands up in the air, lighting that thing up like it was a pinball machine.
Finally, she shows up on the quiet side of chaos.
"What the hell happened?"
"I had my phone in my pocket," she says.
"You what?"
"Millie, I always keep it there."
We were on a bit of a run toward Gate C-3.
Two attendants were standing at a deserted desk.
That is when Louisa spotted the restroom.
And that is when I said, "Get on the plane."
This is where this story should end.
But we were not yet home.
We had only a forty-five-minute layover, and Minneapolis airport is large.
Being the responsible flying sisters that we now are, we located our gate immediately and sat down to wait like you are supposed to do.
Mr. Serious from our previous flight comes strolling along with his luggage and he sits down a few rows away from us.
"I am thirsty," I said.
"Me too," says Louisa.
That is when we noticed on the board that our flight had been delayed forty minutes.
Thankfully the flying sidewalks took us a half a mile down the way, and we found ourselves seated at the same bar we had given our life savings to going the other direction five days prior.
"Two screw drivers, please," said Louisa.
"Single or double?" says the bartender.
"Double," we said in unison.
All heads turned our way.
And Louisa and I made new friends instantly.
Mr. Serious strolled in and sat down at a table.
"What is he doing here?" Louisa said. "He has a flight to catch."
"He's ordering food," I gasped.
"He doesn't have time for that," she says.
That is when I received a text from Delta, notifying me that our plane was delayed another ten minutes.
Our master plan was to keep an eye on our guy.
Clearly, he was waiting for the same plane to arrive, and he knew what he was doing.
That was not the case.
And once again, Louisa and I found ourselves flying on moving sidewalks over the half mile back to our gate.
We were not the last to board.
But we were not the first.
Louisa's suitcase, the one with the messed-up baggage claim ticket, made it to Wisconsin.
"Here it comes," I told Sven.
And then it rounded the corner and fell off the conveyer belt, into a deep pit.


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