Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Joe Egg Sunny Side Over

Infanticide is a horrible thing, but the toxic mixture of an imperviously garrulous parent and a screaming child on a crowded plane is a bona-fide WMD. Generally, airlines try to stick these creatures towards the back of the fuselage, in what is known to many travelers as Zone #3, but is more aptly designated the Terror Zone. If for any reason a traveler suspects he may be lodged in the Terror Zone, it is imperative that he rush off to one of those concourse bookstores to purchase a copy of Swift’s A Modest Proposal. You remember the famous essay arguing that one solution to the hunger problem in Ireland would be to eat the babies. In the case of the Terror Zone, which some might argue calls for an even more modest proposal, solutions range from pepper spray to an impromptu staging of the bloody climax of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (no M.F.A. required). But please, spare the irony. The modern plane only flies when it has been stuffed like a fois gras-producing goose, with unsuspecting passengers in the role of the goose’s innards. Nowhere to run to, baby. Nowhere to hide. Thoughts of muzzling, encouraging acrobatic activities for which the autonomic nervous system is not prepared, sending the urchin into an Olympic-style half gainer from 34,000 feet, start to percolate. It is terrible to think thoughts like this, thoughts that only run through the minds of mass murderers. You grow to hate the colicky thing for forcing you to become something other than the exemplary citizen that you had planned to be prior to buying that ticket for Des Moines. But would it really be so disconcerting to hear the following announcement? “We wish to call your attention to the emergency doors. Due to an excess of noise on this flight, we will be jettisoning our cargo of infants through those doors. Please unfasten your infant’s seatbelt and prepare to pass him in the direction of the illuminated exit signs.” It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if Peter Nichols was traveling on a crowded plane when he first got the idea for his classic play, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

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