Children all over the world are the same. Whether in a Queens restaurant or at an outdoor cafe in Paris, they find a way to crawl under my skin and nestle there like an unwanted splinter from a centuries-old wooden banister that may or may not have been used by Quasimodo. The child doesn’t have to be in a restaurant to do their number on me.
While riding the world famous Eurostar on my way back to London from Paris, I am sitting across the aisle from a happy little girl of about two years old. The train ride is two hours and twenty minutes which doesn’t seem that long until you consider that it will be followed by an almost eight hour flight back to the States. My day of travel is just beginning. The child across from me has dark curly hair, not unlike the freshly sprouted of pubes of a teenage werewolf and she speaks a language I am not familiar with. I do not recognize it to be French. Her mother is of Asian descent and her father appears to be from one of those vague Eastern European countries that excels at producing gold medal winning gymnasts and superintendents of buildings in New York City. The little girl has the beginning of a very successful uni-brown and her voice is husky and deep as if she needs to clear her throat of a colony of frogs that took residence amongst her tonsils. She is laughing, cooing and talking with the occasional foray into a gleeful scream. She is a very happy child and she does not shut up the entire train ride.
“Well, a least she wasn’t crying,” some would say. I’m not so sure about that.
When a child cries, most parents do their best to get them to stop. When a child repeatedly screams with laughter, most parents see no reason to stop them despite the fact that the person across the aisle from them has blood dripping from his eardrums. Mixed with her Brenda Vacarro-like vocal cords, it is unbearable. This little girl has a future doing Harvey Firestein impersonations. She sounds like Suzanne Pleshette after gargling with a glass of Bea Arthur. She needs a Ricola or a throat transplant, whichever is easier to find halfway between Paris and London. “Wheeee,” she coughs out as she walks past me for the fifteenth time, this time with her backpack, I assume to be full of unused Throat Coat Tea. I look at her pigtails and flash a fake smile so her parents will have no idea that I am typing about their offspring at this very moment.
She returns to her seat and burps a few times, each burp having the inexplicable sound of a rhinoceros trying to clear its throat while under water. It hurts to hear it and I look over to make sure she hasn’t just coughed up a piece of James Earl Jones’ leftover vocal cord. She hasn’t. She laughs at her belch. Her mother tells the girl something and the little girl repeats it. And then burps again and laughs a throaty laugh that reminds me of Elizabeth Ashley after smoking two packs of Camels.
I have twenty minutes left of my train ride and I am thrilled when I see the family get off at Ebbsfleet instead of staying on the train all the way to London. The train is quiet at last and I relish the silence knowing that once I get on the plane in just three short hours, I run the risk of experiencing it all over again.
Yes, kids are the same all over the world and no matter what language they are whining in, they get on my nerves. I understand that traveling with children can be very stressful for parents which is why I would never ever say anything to someone. I suck it up and deal with it knowing that at least my time with the kid is temporary. But it does give me great pleasure to write a blog post about them and know that maybe someday the parent might see it and think, “Hmmm, I think he’s talking about my kid.” If your kid is about two years old and has a voice like sandpaper and you were on the Eurostar on September 27, 2012, yes I am talking about you and I hated your little girl. Make her drink some honey and shut the hell up.