This is an offshoot of the original Liam & Janet blog. That blog has become overrun by Liam's inability to keep his mouth shut when something annoys him. The serious rants there seemed incongruous with the humor columns. The plan for the humor columns continues to be to post a new one every Friday, plus occasional extras when the mood strikes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vacation Vignettes

[This isn't meant to be a humor essay, but it's something I wrote at the end of my Christmas vacation in North Carolina and didn't really have an appropriate place to post it. This morning, while leaving for work, I saw a beautiful sunrise that reminded me of it, so I figured I'd dust it off and post it here, on the theory that it's better to post something not really apropos to the site than to leave it idle for so long. --Liam]

Life is a series of little scenes. These are three such scenes, beginning and ending with moments of rare and surpassing beauty.


"C'mon, Liam, we have to move," I urge, pulling two suitcases, a large laptop bag and a backpack of Liam's, plus a blanket and two jackets along the terminal, trying desperately to make it from one end of the airport to the other in the 20 minutes left of our layover, after our arriving plane had pulled into the gate late, "We really have to go or we're going to miss our flight!"

This was the fourth or fifth such exhortation, and as any parent of a just-shy-of-four year old will tell you, my tone had seriously degraded from "Hey, buddy, whatdya say we run as fast as we can, huh? Won't that be fun?" to "If you don't move your slowpoke little butt, I'm going to seriously consider whether it's time to return to the days when a daddy would take off his belt and blister the bottom of a child." I didn't want to be short with him, but 5 minutes had passed since we'd left our plane and we'd made it perhaps 3% of the total distance we had to cover. If that.

Finally I ended up shouting "Move, Liam. We have to move NOW.", which as those same parents will tell you is a perfect cue for said near-four-year-old to lie down on the floor and start crying, which Liam obligingly did.

And just as I completed my assessment of the situation and determined that there was no possible way that I could pull the luggage, laptop, backpack, blanket, jackets AND carry Liam, and was coming to the realization that we were going to be spending at least one night (and likely, given that most holiday flights were sold out, several) in Cleveland, and am just beginning to consider lying down on the floor next to Liam and bawling myself, I overhear a woman say to her husband, "I'll meet you at the baggage carousel", followed by "If you don't object, I can carry him."

Understand that the place we had to get to was at the other end of the airport, in almost entirely the wrong direction for her trip. Understand also that she'd already been traveling all day, and was just getting set to return home, and, seeing me in distress, she stopped to offer assistance, carrying a crying child through half a mile of airport.

In the grand scheme of things, a very small event, but enough to remind me that there is beauty in the human race.

Just the One

In the waning moments of the evening meal, I catch the attention of the wait staff and request a box for the uneaten portion of my meal. The waiter asks "just the one?" and my son, newly four and trying to increase his interaction with and control over the world, lifts his hand, index finger high and says "Just the one", as I glance around the table and respond "I think we need two".

Liam looks at me and says "No, just the one", still holding his fist aloft, back of his hand to the room, index finger aloft.

"Liam, we need two boxes." I say, demonstrating with the "V for Victory" or "peace" sign.

"No, Daddy, not two," quothe Liam, raising his middle finger to mimic my V, "just the one" and lowering the index finger.

And then sat there, for about 30 seconds, blissfully unaware that most of the nearby diners are now tittering, having watched the whole scene and now seeing my innocent four-year-old son flipping off the waiter and the rest of the restaurant.


Sitting next to my snoozing son as our final flight on the way down to North Carolina taxis and begins to prepare to take off. Outside, the last vestiges of gloaming fade to darkness as we taxi on to the runway.

A roar of jet turbines, the giant hand of accelleration pressing me snuggly into the back of my seat, and into the air we go, a giant metal bird with many souls. Racing the sun, we rise into the air and I look out over my son, out the window and see the sunset. Just for a moment, the setting sun in crimson glory, sandwiched between the distant ground's horizon and the equally distant cloud covering, a deep rich red on the bottom and the dark of night on the top.

I have never seen a sunset sandwich before, but this one took my breath away.

Copyright © Jan 14, 2010 by Liam Johnson.

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