Last week, I flew across Canada to visit my mom, who’s been sick. I brought Emilia with me, because I figured – morbid creature that I am – that if anything happened to my mom, I wanted her last memories to be of her hellion granddaughter demanding more cake. I’m joking, of course. I wanted to bring Emilia because if there’s one thing that can boost my mother’s will to live, it’s watching Emilia run me into the ground. There’s a whole future of me getting a nice Emilia-sized dose of the medicine that I, as a girl, dished out to my own mother, and my own mother, quite understandably, wants to stick around to laugh at that.
So we flew across Canada to see my mom. Emilia likes flying across the country – she likes flying, generally – because she likes, as she says, ‘seeing what the world looks like to the moon.’ We usually keep the satellite map open on the little video screen, so that we can talk about what we’re flying over and what we just flew over and what we’re going to fly over next. It makes for interesting conversation. It makes for especially interesting conversation when Mommy’s ears haven’t popped and she’s partially deaf in one ear.
Conversation like this one, that we had on the way home:
“Mommy, what are we flying over right now?”
“WHAT’S THAT, SWEETIE?” (I wasn’t yelling, exactly, but I wasn’t exactly not yelling, either. I seriously could not hear a thing out of my right ear. Even with my voice raised it sounded like I was speaking from about ten feet away from myself.)
“WHAT ARE WE FLYING OVER NOW MOMMY?”
“AH. I THINK THAT’S REGINA.”
“MOMMY! YOU CAN’T SAY THAT WORD ON AIRPLANES!”
Someone behind us laughed.
I made a sudden, concerted effort to lower my voice. Which I was able to do, except that I couldn’t hear the words that I was saying, so I had to raise my voice again, such that I was speaking in what sounded like a very strained stage whisper. I think. I couldn’t exactly hear myself.
“I didn’t say VAGINA, sweetie. I said REGINA.”
“YES YOU DID, MOMMY. YOU SAID THAT WE WERE FLYING OVER VAGINA.” Emilia didn’t get the memo about lowering her voice. More muffled laughter from the seats behind us. It was probably outright guffawing. I just couldn’t hear it.
“I said Regina. Regina is a place.”
“YOU SAID VAGINA. AND A VAGINA IS ALSO A PLACE.”
“Regina is a city. It’s a place in Canada. It’s the place that we’re flying over. There’s no place called ‘Vagina’…”
“Except on our bodies, yes. No place on a map. No place on this map.” I poked at the video screen.
“THEN WHY DID YOU SAY…”
“YOU DID SAY VAGINA MOMMY YOU DID.”
A smart mother knows when it’s time to give up. That time is usually five minutes or so after a whole planeload of people has started laughing at her.
“You’re right, sweetie. I misspoke. I should not have said that we were flying over Vagina.”
My mother now has all the more reason to live. After all, there’s always the chance that we’ll all take a flight together over Nipple, Utah.