I was trying to do the manly thing and swallow my tears, but a few slipped down my cheek as I left my wife and got on the plane.
I slowly made my way down the narrow aisle of the 727 to row 23. There was a ten-year-old kid sitting in the seat next to mine.
He was a skinny, freckled-faced boy with a crew cut. His blue jeans were brand new and crisp. His shirt was green with a March of Dimes Walk-a-thon logo on it.
As the airplane taxied away from the airport, I looked out the window and saw my wife standing inside the terminal. I lost my composure. I started crying and cried until the pilot turned off the "Fasten seat belt" sign.
All of a sudden I felt someone punching my arm. It was the kid next to me. He was hitting me and saying, "Cry, baby, cry! Cry, baby!
"Stop it!" I told him in a stern voice, but he continued. So I pointed my finger at his face and said, "Listen, you little bastard, shut up!" That's when he stopped telling me to cry and calling me a baby, but he continued to hit
my arm and started repeating everything I said.
"Stop punching my arm!"
"Stop punching my arm," he retorted.
"Quit that," I said with cliched teeth.
"Quit that," he said with a big grin.
Then I went for the old stand-by, "I'm a stupid little ugly jerk!"
But he came back with, "You're a stupid fat ugly jerk!"
I was out of options and very upset with the fat remark, so I punched him. It was that very moment
I realized how happy I was I grew up. I landed a solid hit straight to the kid's jaw and laid him out.
It was the best punch I've ever landed, if I do say so myself.
Before I knew it, I was locked in a closet in the back of the plane. A flight attendant, a pretty brunette from Michigan, told me the pilot would be back to deal with me later.
When the pilot opened the closet door he screamed, "What do you think you're doing hitting a ten-year-old kid!"
I told him how the kid had started picking on me and hitting me while I was crying.
The pilot just shook his head and said, "He was probably trying to toughen you up, sissy! And as far as I can tell you need it!"
I was tired. My leg was cramped from being bent behind my head while I was in the closet. I hadn't got my half can of soda. I didn't need this
Air Force Academy reject talking junk about me, so I punched him. It was my second decent hit of the flight. He was down for the count.
I claimed his hat and airline pins as spoils of war and swaggered up to my new seat in the cockpit.
And that's how I became a pilot for American Airlines.