Little Baby Emma vs. Business Man Jim

I was down visiting a prospect this week and had an interesting ride on my flight from Austin to Houston. After racing to the airport and slipping through security to make the flight, I boarded and found myself in 18B, the middle seat on the left side of the plane. Suited up for the occasion, sans the jacket which was crushed in the overhead by some neanderthal of a traveler, I squeezed into the seat. In 18A was young mom Jessica and baby Emma. In 18C, was a heavily tattooed version of Lou Ferrigno. And there I was, the frosted center of that very weird cookie-of-life anchoring row 18.

Baby Emma was one year old, as I soon learned. She was absolutely adorable, very little hair and still toothless. I couldn’t help but look at her and get some strange view into my future. And I think she felt the same, for from the moment I sat down, she was completely fascinated by me. What can I say, Emma and I were a bit of kindred spirits. I chatted to her, made faces, she loved it, she laughed. She was a very happy baby, eating her goldfish crackers and Cheetos. And with those tiny, orange, spit covered fingers, all Emma wanted was to get her mitts all over me.

What ensued for the next hour was an odd mixture of ballet and Tae Kwon Do. Emma was absolutely hypnotized by my striped shirt, my bright new tie, and my shiny watch. Emma wanted to grab them, she wanted to possess them, she was determined to put her tiny orange fingerprints all over them. Mother Jessica was not so thrilled with the idea and was desperately trying to block every attempt. Emma was not discouraged, smiling from ear to ear, and continued to launch assault after assault from every direction, in the way only a one year old can manage. Of course, as time wore on, Emma began to break down Jessica’s defenses. It was a battle of attrition and a one year old is always going to wear down a 20-something mother. Embarrassed, Jessica apologized repeatedly.

After a few assurances that she really needn’t worry about it, I finally just looked at Jessica and said, “You know, it has been many years since I have had orange fingerprints on my dress shirts and ties. It really doesn’t matter, and it isn’t anything that won’t come out in the wash.” OK, I admit the ‘tie’ portion of that is a fib. The reality is if you get some big orange smudge on a tie, forget it … it is never coming out. But come on, who cares? And the bottom line was that Emma was completely happy. She was busy, for sure, but more importantly, she was happy.

What I really wanted to do was reach my hands out and see if Emma would come to me. But I didn’t do it. I thought about it a lot, and in the end, I guess being a stranger on an airplane, I didn’t feel right about putting mom Jessica in a potentially uncomfortable position. If she isn’t comfortable handing her baby over to a stranger on a plane, I didn’t want to be the one putting my hands out. Ah well, maybe I over think things. Maybe next time, I just put my hands out.

We landed and said our goodbyes. Jessica and Emma were headed off to Miami to visit Grandpa. I hope they have a wonderful visit. I, with my orange decorated left arm and tie, ran the other direction to catch my flight to Milwaukee. The clothes will go off to the cleaners and the physical evidence will be erased. However, Emma has left a bit more lasting mark on me. As I have always said … there are two things that make the world go around … and babies is one of them.

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