We were at Dusseldorf Airport when Raphael spit up all over my leg: a hand-sized puddle of used breast milk, all curdled and lumpy. We’d barely begun our 17-hour journey home and already I needed a change of clothes.
We had a couple minutes before preboarding — not that Lufthansa actually does preboarding; they just “welcome” everyone all at once, and a crowd of between 200 and 600 irate travellers stand up and press in a mob toward the gate, where they’re reduced to single-file impatience, and while I’m on the topic WFT is up with that?! — so I mopped most of the nastiness from my pants leg with the bib (which ironically was spotless) and hurried to the nearest rest room.
The first thing I noticed was the lack of a hot-air hand dryer. I muttered “Crap!” to no one in particular, although in Germany that’s probably something you can order at the Imbiß, which might explain the funny stares. I got more stares, none of which could honestly be described as “funny,” when I took my pants off and began washing them in the sink.
Yes, I had to wash out the spit-up. I was not willing to breathe sour milk for 17 hours. Although had I known then that the elderly Gypsy woman in the baseball cap who would be sitting four seats away on the long flight to SFO would not have bathed any time in recent memory and would be exuding a rich body odor redolant with aromas of garlic, fermented grains, and feet, I might have opted for the sour milk smell after all.
The wet spot wasn’t huge, but by the time I’d washed it out, my pants were soaked from knee to crotch. I had to improvise drying solutions, lest I navigate the boarding line with an enormous, fresh wet stain on my pants. “Sorry, had to piss,” I imagined saying to people with a cheery wave and a British accent, for no reason I can adequately explain.
So I wrung out the pants, squeezed the wet areas with paper towels and finally resorted to flapping my hand inside the pants leg. I was leaving sweaty sock-prints on the tile floor from the stress and exertion. But it more or less worked: my pants were damp but not obviously so. And I hadn’t missed the first (only) boarding call.
An hour later, at the Munich airport, Raphael’s diaper overflowed and seeped through two layers of cloth to stain my other pants leg. (He doesn’t always manage his own secretions.)
I’d actually anticipated this to some degree, so I caught the problem before it became the sort of thing they refuse to let people get on airplanes for.
“What’s next?!” I cried to no one in particular, although since we were still in Germany it’s likely everybody within earshot assumed I was asking for a sausage.
On the next flight, I fully expected the stewardess to spill orange juice on me, but in fact she did not. Instead, a recalcitrant container of salad dressing squirted a half-ounce of vinegar, oil, and some damn Krauter herb blend six inches up the sleeve of my shirt.