A red-eye flight gets even redder

"You'll be good, right?" I asked the toddler while we waited to board.

"Of course," he said.

"How do we sit on airplanes?" I asked.

"Pretty much like this," he said, bolt upright as if testifying.

For a week, we rehearsed how he'd sit on the airplane on the way to see his grandmother. Without fail, he aced these little quizzes, sitting up properly with his hands in his corduroyed lap.

Now, two hours into the flight, he is upside down, with the sharp edge of his new tennis shoe digging into my left shoulder. It may require stitches.

At heart, I am a positive guy, but there is little to be positive about now. The baby slept 10 minutes while we were taxiing for takeoff, then bolted awake, sensing that we were about to be launched into space without his mother anywhere in sight.

Now, he stares at me and works the pacifier in his mouth like a bitter cigar, plotting his next back flip off the seat. "Look at this guy," he thinks. "He's taking a toddler on the red-eye. Is he nuts?"

Obviously. Only a nut would take a 2-year-old on the 11:15 p.m. flight out of LAX, departing from those stuffy gates at the far end of the terminal (46 through 48), which never seem to thin out, never. Gate 46B, to be exact, where the air-conditioning doesn't even reach.

Something to drink?

Sure. How about shots?

Chris Erskine can be reached at


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