My nephew was deathly afraid of flying. Every time his parents suggested they go on a trip involving airline travel he’d freak out – convinced he’d perish in a 30,000 foot uncontrolled descent.
I figured he grow out of this phobia – but then my parents offered to take my brother’s family and mine to Disneyworld. My nephew was so nervous about going on a plane that my brother seriously considered driving down. But since his family was supposed to fly with my elderly parents, who were paying for the whole shin-dig, this was a non-starter. No way Mom and Dad were going to sit in a car for 1175 miles. Too many bathroom breaks. Time for some psychology.
A few days later I visited my brother’s house and asked my nephew why he was so afraid of flying.
“Planes crash and everybody dies,” my nephew said.
‘Yeah,” I said. “When it happens it’s bad – but it only happens occasionally. There hasn’t been a big airplane crash in this country for years.”
“I don’t want to go on a plane.”
“It’s actually safer to fly than driving to Florida,” I said. “ And mechanics check those planes thoroughly and the pilots are well trained and have flown for years. A lot of them used to fly military planes so they know what they’re doing.”
“Do you know what’s the most dangerous thing you do all day ?” I said.
“When you take a bath or drive in a car.”
“Yes way. Most accidents in the home happen in the bathroom. People slip in the tub and get hurt all the time. And you are much more likely to be hurt in a car crash than on a plane. So what are you going to do? Never go in a car? Never take a bath?”
“Of course not. You’d stink and never go to Chuck. E. Cheese.” That elicited a giggle.
“Listen, kid. I can’t make you go on a plane – but you’d miss going to Disneyworld. That would suck.”
“I see planes crash on the news.”
“When a person slips in the tub or gets into a car accident it’s not on the news because it happens all the time. Planes don’t crash often but, when it happens, it’s a big story.”
“But that’s scary.”
“Again, you’re more likely to have an accident in a car or the bathtub. It’s also risker to go up and down the stairs, ride your bike, play on the playground or chew gum. Besides, you’re probably going to wreck your thumbs with all those video games you play. But you do all that stuff every day. Don’t you?”
“Flying is much safer, trust me. See you in Disneyworld.”
A few days later my sister-in-law called me. “I don’t know what you told my son, but he said he’d fly down to Florida.”
“That’ll be four hundred dollars,” I said. “I prefer cash.”
“Seriously, what did you tell him?”
After I told her my sister-in-law she said. “Well, it worked.”
“Good. Because I was going to do exposure therapy next. Make him watch Airplane ten imes.”
“Maybe Snakes on a Plane. That was so bad it was good.”
A few weeks later my wife and I flew down to Jacksonville ahead of my parents and nephew. After tooling around St. Augustine we started the drive down to Orlando.
“Well they’re in the air now,” my wife said, looking at her watch. ‘How do you think your nephew’s doing?”
“Have you ever seen a grown man naked?” I said, “Do you like movies about gladiators? Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”
“What are you taking about?” My wife sometimes doesn’t get my cinematic references.
“They bought their tickets,” I cried. “They knew what they were getting into. I say let ‘em crash!”
“You’re a twisted individual.”
A few hours later my cell phone rang. My brother’s family and my parents landed in Orlando without incident. Ethan enjoyed the flight. Now we were all going to have a fun filled week in the Happiest Place on Earth.
Gripping the steering wheel of my rental car, I sighed. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.