My sister, Kate, recently visited Atlantic City with a large group of friends for the weekend. She related that she really enjoyed the spa services and it was loads of fun being kid-free with other unencumbered moms, however, she also is just not into gambling. She found A.C. sort of creepy and doesn't plan on returning any time soon. Even though I lived in New Jersey for many years and traveled to the shore towns close to Atlantic City, I have never once been tempted to stop there. I have often shook my head at the large number of buses that pass me, barreling down the Parkway, carrying loads of seniors with their packed quarters on their way to the slots. I admit it-- I just don't get the appeal.
Given this, imagine my surprise to find ourselves recently gambling in Atlantic City. OK. It's not in the way you are thinking. But flying back from Sarasota to LaGuardia, in the smallest plane I've ever traveled in, we found ourselves unexpectedly touching down in ol' A.C. and the visit there was not a particularly pleasant one. Supposedly, the fog in Queens was growing ever thicker and there was a large number of planes waiting to land in LaGuardia so air traffic controllers kept putting off our pilots. We did the air dance, hoping our number might be called, but our little wallflower of a plane kept backing up and circling without getting the official nod to land in New York City. The pilots made a decision to re-route to Atlantic City to refuel before attempting to land at LaGuardia again.
So there we were, making an unexpected and incredibly bumpy landing on the runway in one of the gambling hot spots on the East Coast. Now I am sure the pilots did not think of this setting down as quite the gamble Peter and I did as we assessed our situation. How many Goldfish did we have left? How about lollipops? And what about the laptop's battery? We had yet to fire it up this trip, thanks due to F falling asleep soon after our departure from Florida, finally napping after a week of no naps. Of course, he awoke as our jerky jet bumped through the air as it descended. C and S had been well-occupied in the first leg of the trip, reading the new chapter books that we had strategically purchased the day before (they had already run through the books we bought for going to FL). So-- just how long would our luck hold out?
We sat on the tarmac for an hour and then another with no sense how long we would be there. We were told we were not allowed to disembark, although many folks spotted a passenger out walking a little dog next to the plane. I guess cooped-up pups got some sort of dispensation. Some of the passengers started to get fidgety and a few shouts arose from the seats, although there were no threats of full-scale mutiny. Yet.
F sucked and chewed on a lollipop-- a sure way to stop him from screaming. He wanted another. And another. P and I had to make some tough decisions and decided to save the last few for our eventual landing in New York. The SchoolHouse Rocks DVD quieted F and then S joined in, watching as he, too, grew restless. We siphoned off the snacks and the choices dwindled: no more pretzels, only one more bag of Goldfish, the less-popular toasted peanut butter crackers left. As the time marched on, one of the passengers told us that he was was worried it was getting close the time we might need to pull off a loaves and (Gold)fishes thing as our flight attendants didn't have any more to offer besides some lousy sweet biscuits. I was biting my lip, holding my breath a bit. The boys were hanging in there--but for how much longer?
Good news suddenly spewed from the speakers. We had our new flight plan. The refueling had begun. We would soon be in the air and would try to 'stay low' in order to 'sneak into LaGuardia without too much notice.' I swear the captain said that; I wasn't so sure I liked that idea but I did want to get to New York. We touched down at our correct destination and I breathed audibly. We had made it. The boys were troopers. It could have easily turned ugly but they hung in there. Perhaps we might just be able to fulfill some fantasy travels we've kicked around during some 'what if' talk late in the night. As we walked up the aisle to disembark, we gave a happy smile and a nod, a sort of exhausted but ebullient parenthood-in-arms gesture, toward the other set of parents, who were traveling with two young children. Crisis averted.
While waiting for our bags, a fellow passenger turned to us and said, "I just called my friend to tell him that there are still well-behaved children in the world, and they were all on my plane." We thanked him and gave props to our sons. We later agreed-- next time we fly, we're packing even more Goldfish and lollipops. You can bet on it.