Revisionist Natural History on an Airplane

Flying back from a business trip to Florida Tuesday evening, we raced through the Atlanta airport* to make a connection that was tighter than a midget’s… um… yeah… we were cutting it close due to an air traffic delay.  Airport strategy for a small group traveling in such a situation?  Every man for himself once clearing the inbound flight – and the first person to get to the connecting gate must fake a heart attack to assure that the door of the plane can’t be closed until the others arrive.  Leave no one behind…

Miraculously – with only 10 minutes to get from the end of concourse B to the middle of concourse C – we made it.  Helped by the fact that the outbound flight now had a 10 minute delay as well.  Shuffling my way to the back of the plane, i grabbed my window seat next to a young man, perhaps 12 years old, sitting in the aisle seat.

As i was getting settled, i realized his parents and perhaps siblings were seated a few rows behind us, so he wasn’t traveling alone.  i stuffed my briefcase under the seat in front of me, and he ate raw almonds, which he’d poured into his baseball cap.  Mental note that his parents were at least providing some better food choices than many

Seated in front of me is my travel mate, the Ninjaneer.  We horsed around a bit, as we are inclined to do.  i threatened to write on his shaved head with a sharpie, he threatened massive ‘silent but deadly’ fartage… normal business colleague stuff.  The kid apparently decides i’m cool enough to chat up, opening with “Are you coming back from Disney World, too?”  Not exactly, but we proceed to discuss roller coasters, amusement park rides and cool things that scare the crap out of you.

The flight crew has made an announcement of a departure delay to allow those folks with tight connections to board.  Plus 100 bonus points to Delta Airlines for making that call – usually they’ll push back to hit their departure time target, and then sit the plane on the tarmac for an hour waiting to take off, while stranded passengers press their faces to the window glass in the departure lounge and scream…

The Ninjaneer turns to tell me that there is creature outside, eating the wing – a reference to the Richard Matheson short story, and Twilight Zone episode, about the guy who flips out, and sees a gremlin eating the wing at 20,000 feet – and no one believes him.  The young man next to me was craning his neck to see outside, and i had to explain that it was a joking reference to an old TV show…

The inquisitive little bugger drills in, wanting me to tell him about the movie, and more scary stories.  It becomes pretty clear to me that he’s not very bright.  He makes a few attempts to tell scary stories – that his older brother tells better – but fails.  i’ve had delightful conversations with youngsters, but this was definitely not going to be one of them.  And we were still on the ground.

Returning the conversation to amusement parks, he tells me about an exhibit at a park somewhere that had dinosaurs that attack you as you ride through – i think it’s a Jurrasic Park thing somewhere, but i’d lost interest.  And then there was this aside:

dim boy: Oh, and you know dinosaurs weren’t killed by the meteors, but they died in a flood, and if it weren’t for Noah we wouldn’t be here…

daisyfae: [mind makes the connection to bible-thumping creationists]  Huh.  How about that?  Wiped out in a big flood, eh?

Ninjaneers shoulders start to shake.  He is laughing – wondering what the hell i’m going to to do this child of born-again science.  Without a doubt, the kid’s been to The Creation Museum**  – where they have an animatronic dinosaur exhibit, showing cave men playing alongside ol’ T-Rex.  And this gem, shown in Creation Theater – Travel 6,000 years back to the beginning of time to see the world created in six days.  Damn the scientific evidence, people – we’ve got a religion to sell here!

Conversation went  further south – my brain aching to challenge him on these assumptions… i didn’t discuss the impossibility that the Grand Canyon was formed in a day due to receding flood waters (what the young earth creationists refer to as the pseudoscience of  “Flood Geology“).  And i certainly didn’t ask why God would have put our sex organs so close to our excretory organs if he’d really been working from a clean slate, executing truly intelligent design…

As we took off, and thankfully blasted through 10,000 feet, i put on my headphones and told him that the old lady needed to sleep.  My iPod was dead, but the headphones stayed on.  i didn’t sleep.  Instead, i wondered what kind of future he’ll have… What sort of life he’ll lead.  What profession will call him…  Whether he’d ever have an opportunity for a full-spectrum education, or whether his well-intentioned parents would continue to raise him under a rock.  A 6,000 year old rock.

And rational thought takes another one in the teeth...

And rational thought takes another one in the teeth...

* Also known as “Hell – Now, With A Train”

** Go to the link and look around.  this shit boggles the mind… do they TRULY believe this?  We’re fucked… farewell, rational thought, critical thinking and logic.