By: Anna Galperin
I am on a plane. It is still at the gate. I hear someone drinking their soda, and then they burp. I hear the wheels of the plane beginning to move. I hear the flight attendant telling us about flight safety. She keeps showing us what to do with our hands if the plane falls, which is good, because nobody can make out a single word she’s saying. The most prominent sound on this plane is the baby crying three rows ahead of my boyfriend and I. Why does no one hold the baby? I can only assume this infant is hanging from a suspended breathing mask. Clearly it yearns for the womb! It wants love, it needs attention, it desires nothing more than a mother’s warm embrace!
We just visited my family in Florida. South Florida to be exact: the most romantic and sexy place for a new couple to make protected love. We would stroll up and down the coast, toes in the sand, fingers interlocked in tropical paradise. But there were small blobs of flesh...everywhere! Pure, perfectly smooth and soft flesh, just sitting out there in the sun! Burning! Frying! Each moment, we would pass a little tiny creature in the sand or floating in the ocean… I had to approach every mother, father, nanny, chauffeur and lifeguard, anyone who could or should have been monitoring these innocent, sun-baked babbs. Somebody needed to be sure each of these skin-trapped minds was wearing a Sun Protection Factor of at least 75. That beautiful skin must stay the color it was at the moment of birth. The color it was in the womb.
Every time we passed a children’s boutique full of whimsical mannequins, or even a real, organic child in a perfectly coordinated outfit, I began to imagine how I would dress my own product. Polka dots, stripes; skirts and tulle dresses; coordinated bibs; bow ties and brand name sneakers; the child I would own would flex heavy over every other child at the playground. And every night an infrared light treatment would use the skin’s reparative mechanisms to reverse that day’s dermatological assaults. But even my imaginary youngster could not smile as sweetly as the real, arms-and-legs-and-teeth chubby cheekster approaching us as we strolled. I thought of how I’d love to buy the sweet-eyed wobbler an ice cream, and find amusement as I watched it drip down his round chin.
But then this flight. I am on it, on the way back to New York. There are so many small, soft meatball skulls strolling the avenues and streets of the innumerable boroughs I commute through. I anticipate their unsteady bobbing, their whining and windswept terror in the Harlem streets. I just want to put their little round eyes in my pocket, to show them beautiful new places, to keep them safe. While none of my home’s coated bebes can compare to the ones rolling and cooking in the sand, the ones who stole my heart, there are some who deserve more than just my daydreams. But this one small human on this flight stays crying furiously, and I know now that someone has to hold it. And that someone will be me.
“Hey, babe, where are you going?” My boyfriend asks me as I try to move towards the aisle from the window seat. “Hand me my dermatological lasers.” He begs me to sit down. He begs me to stop. But he knows I cannot. I only wanted to bottle the cries. I only wanted to mother the babester.