The Sobbing Airplane Incident
My mother in law is here for the summer, and in her honor I am recalling the times that I have completely humiliated her - which is quite often if I'm honest. This is one of our family favourites - the sobbing plane incident in China.
We were flying (Paul, Sylvia and I) on an internal flight in China, I think we were going from Guilin to Hainan or something, but it was a relatively short flight of only about 4 hours or so. We were, of course, the only non-Chinese people on the entire plane and were placed in the exact middle of the plane - possibly for greater viewing access for the other passengers as back then in 2003 foreigners in some parts of China still made a pretty big scene.
Paul and I were sat together and my mother in law was just across the aisle. The plane was dark and we had all settled in, watching our little headrest movie screens - I was watching Big Fish, for the first time.
Oh holy hell have you guys seen that movie? Oh my freaking God. The ending!
So we're on this quiet flight full of Chinese people and were the only foreigners on the entire flight. No biggie. But I'm watching this movie and it nears the end and I start to tear up. Just a little at first, but then the ending builds and builds and I start to sniffle.
Then the ending gets even more emotionally traumatic and I let out a stifled sob. Paul hasn't yet noticed anything, he's engrossed in Police Story - some Jackie Chan kicks the world's ass movie. I'm breathing hard and starting to really cry when a flight attendant, who spoke no English whatsoever, came over to see if I was okay. I waved her off politely, smiling to indicate that I was okay - but still engrossed in the movie.
The ending got worse and I let out a loud sob. My shoulders were trembling and I was gripping my blanket to my running nose and the tears dripping down my face. I had headphones on, so didn't realize quite how loud I was being. I started to hiccup, tears pouring down my face and emitting little sobs.
The flight attendant approached me again, this time with a friend. Neither spoke any English, but I assured them that I was fine. They left, reluctantly.
The ending then built even more and I was positively whimpering at this stage. People on the plane were starting to turn around and look at me (I always cause a scene there) but with looks of concern more than curiosity. Sylvia was starting to notice but I couldn't pay attention - I was engrossed in the movie.
The movie hit its climax and I let loose a howling wail and then descended into inconsolable, loud weeping.
My husband was startled out of his movie and was trying to get me to calm down but I was beyond any point of consolation. I was sobbing loudly, head thrown back and making a proper scene with 'waahaaaaa' type noises.
The flight attendants had rushed over and everyone around me was standing up in their seat staring and trying to make sense of what was happening to the sobbing foreigner - the flight attendants demanded to know what was going on and my poor mother in law was just covered in spectators -
I managed to shout out (between sobs) the only coherent sentence in Chinese I could think to string together:
The DVD is so happy!!!! (zhege DVD hao gaoxin le!)
Have you ever heard an entire plane of people burst into laughter? It's quite an experience, let me tell you. And it's not like Paul and Sylvia could pretend not to know me, either. CLEARLY we were related.