A no Class in first Class

I was getting all cozied up in my roomy seat, pillow and blanket perfectly tucked and positioned. My People Magazine lay in my lap begging for perusal, a guilty pleasure reserved for long trips only. I was sipping on a complimentary beverage and thinking how wonderful it is to be upgraded even if it means cashing in all those flyer miles my husband has accumulated. Hardly a fair trade for the times he had to spend the night away from home in another city, but balancing the scales somewhat when we get to fly some place fun, together, sometimes in first class.

There was a woman a couple of rows in front of me who had somehow managed to down 2 free cocktails and was hailing the flight attendant for another. I had noticed her before, in fact, I am pretty sure everyone else had too. She was that person who wants everyone to hear every word of her every conversation. I rolled my eyes at my husband and tried not to judge. But just so you know, she is the one whom you pray you don’t have to sit near on a long flight.

Overpriced seats on a plane are discretely segregated from their cheap seats companions by a curtain which is sometimes held open by velcro ties. The curtain now fell in full splendor across the divide, the ties having been released. A woman from behind the ivory curtain brushed past me with her young daughter on their way to the bathroom.

Loudmouth, obnoxious, inebriated woman began to rail against the visiting intruder saying, “This bathroom is for first class passengers only. Your bathroom is in the back of the plane. Someone check her ticket.”

There was an uncomfortable silence in the cabin as the stunned mother placed her hands on her daughter’s shoulders and gently turned her around. With flushed face, lowered eyes and stooped demeanor they walked back to their proper place.

A few minutes later, that same mother and child returned. The mother, fully recovered from the unexpected personal assault, marched with her head held high straight for the first class toilet. She stopped at the abrasive woman’s seat, looked her square in the eye and stated in a clear, measured voice, “Nobody is going to tell my daughter that she doesn’t belong in a first class bathroom.”

I was bursting with silent applause and admiration as they proceeded to use the facilities and exit with the triumphant stride of self-respect. The offensive woman, not about to be outdone, had to have the last word. “That’s what happens when you have a no Class in first Class!”

July 25, 1983

The woman is with child. Finally. Waiting and longing had taught her to deal with the physically wrenching, wicked grip of jealousy when others became pregnant with ease. She measured the vast distance between hope and no hope as she religiously kept appointments with her doctor, watched the mercury in the thermometer and marked the days off on the calendar. Her most profound discovery was that babies do not come from an act of love between a man and a woman or a prescription from the obstetrician, but as a gift from God, and she shamefully realized that the desire of her heart had been more for the creation than the Creator.

“Is my baby alright?” a panicked voice screamed out that she didn’t recognize as her own. For hours she had labored: gripping her husband’s hand, moaning, breathing deeply, writhing in pain, recovering, only to do it all over and over again. And now they told her there was little time and that monitors had alerted distress. She worked with all her might in a blur of light and fear and madness and barking orders, only to receive from a power beyond explanation, peace. In a pocket of a moment, she wonders just what child is this? So longed for, so long in coming, so hard in birthing, now valiantly wobbling that fragil line between life and death.

The baby was in the doctors hands but for a moment and then rushed to a table to be worked on. A long time passes. The woman and her husband share a courageous unity of unspoken intimacy. The baby is wrapped in a blanket and passed to the parents. We cry in gratitude for unto us, a son is given.