A few years ago I was standing in the Sydney airport preparing to clear customs. It was a typical affair with those seatbelty ropes corralling everyone into a long, snaking, back and forth line that moved as slowly as government lines tend to move. In the line directly in front of me was a young family featuring a mom, a dad and a boy who wasn’t more than 2. The direct flight from Chicago to Sydney is a long one and as such, everyone was pretty grumpy. The boy was particularly fed up. He had been good on the whole plane ride and yet here we were, practically a full 24 hours after we had boarded and we were being forced to stand in yet another line???? To a 2 year old (I would come to learn in the subsequent years following these recounted events) there is no greater injustice than not being dutifully rewarded immediately after going above and beyond the call of duty. To put this another way, you really can’t push your luck with a toddler. They have nothing to lose and they can and will snap at any moment. This long, bureaucratic line, necessary as it may be for the safety of Australia’s citizenry and ecology, was pushing luck bigtime.
(At this point I’d like to pause and reflect that actually, there’s often no bigger affront to humanity than feeling like one has gone above and beyond the call of duty and rather than being rewarded or even thanked, whatever powers that be simply demand more. That’s not really unique to being two at all. For example, let’s say you work late, finishing a project that you despise for your employer at the expense of seeing your family, eating dinner, getting a blowjob from that delicious boy from Shreveport who’s only in town for one night, what have you, and then once you finally see your boss, after sleeping on your desk, after giving your all and making it as perfect a project as you could, there at 9am when he shows up, fresh and chipper, and stands above your drool-lined, exhausted unshaven face, if he neglects to say, ‘great job! Go home! You’ve done a good job” or even say so much as thank you, but instead just points out the things you’ve fucked up and demands that you fix it because at this point it’s late…well, you’re gonna be pissed. Now, overwhelmingly, this IS the course that life takes, don’t misunderstand me. But it sucks. That’s why the older you become, the shittier you become. Once this happens to you enough it creates scar tissue all over your empathy glands and you just become another shithead who’s constantly scared and therefore constantly aggressive and angry or meek and distrustful. Anyway…)
The parents, for their part, were doing their best. The kid was crying and frustrated and they were trying to get him to ‘use his words’ which is not only a great way to help ease a child’s frustration (as so much of early life’s frustration comes from not being able to effectively communicate ones needs) but also serves as a great distracter, because frankly, two year olds have to concentrate pretty hard to say anything that makes any fucking sense at all. The parents were obviously tired, so was the kid. What are you gonna do? He’s two and the situation is pretty sucky, no matter how old and mature you may be.
Also standing in this line, and also at the end of his rope was hip hop superstar DMX. Now, DMX was about twenty points in the line ahead of me, so we ended up standing next to each other right in the middle of the line each time we snaked up a new layer. He was, in my memory, wearing a very cozy looking yellow and white track suit (though human memory is notoriously unreliable and as such, these kinds of details are almost always wrong. If you asked anyone else in that line they probably all remember him wearing something different [if they noticed him at all, which they almost certainly did, as you’re about to learn] and it’s quite possible that no one would be correct, were the Australian equivalent of TSA to check the security footage to see what, in fact, DMX was wearing that fateful day) and he was surrounded by an entourage that contained at least one fat guy in golden glasses and one woman. DMX was, to put it mildly, unhappy.
At one point, he approached from one side of the snaking line as I approached from the other and we end up mere inches from each other. He furrowed his brow, looked at the family in front of me and proclaimed (rather loudly) “Someone needs to beat that child’s ass and shut him up!” to which the father, visibly pretty shaken, replied “erm, excuse me?” to which DMX replied (even more loudly) “I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to that bitch!” and pointed to the mother. “You need to beat that child’s ass and shut him up.” The mom looked up and, in a remarkably calm voice said “Wow. Looks like my 2 year old isn’t the only one who’s crabby after an 18 hour flight.” DMX muttered some things about how his mom would never allow this or that, but the death blow had been struck by the mom. DMX was a little vanquished at that point, which only made him kind of stew more.
Needless to say, the line got pretty weird after that. No more barbs were exchanged, save some of the dirtiest looks I’ve ever been privy to. The DMX entourage calmed him down, or at the very least convinced him not to flip out anymore and that was pretty much the end of it. Next thing I know, I’m through customs and on a shuttle bus from the international terminal to the main terminal and I’m sitting across from the nerdy, suburban family that had just battled (and bested) DMX.
“Uh, excuse me, ” I said after about 2 minutes. “I just want to let you know something. When you go home, and you tell that story to your friends about what just happened back there in that line, you should include the detail that the guy that was yelling at you was DMX. He’s a REALLY famous rapper.”
“I don’t care who he is,” the wife said, “IfhesgonnatalktomeandmychildlikethatthenI’mgonnagivehimapieceofmymindand… a’
“Whoa, whoa. I know. I get it. I’m not saying anything about that. I’m simply telling you that by including that detail, that story goes from mildly interesting to really, really interesting pretty fast. That’s DMX that just berated your child. He’s been nominated for Grammys and shit!”
The dad, at this point, kind of comes to life and says “That was DMX?”
“Yup.” I said, pleased that this was kind of starting to sink in.
“Well,” he harrumphed “that’s the last time I ever listen to any of his music!”
“You! Own! His! Music?” the wife spun around on her husband angrily.
“erm…huh, well…I’ve illegally downloaded a couple of his songs.”
This seemed to satisfy the wife and shortly thereafter we went our separate ways. Since then, DMX has faced felony charges in something like 5 states. He’s been transported directly from one prison to another to serve out his various sentences for his various crimes. In short, whatever the fuck his mom was doing beating his ass turned out a fucking asshole that yells at kids and women, carries guns and commits crimes with the wanton abandon of a teenager playing GTA3. I think about this a lot when my kids are freaking out. I try to get them to use their words and calm them down without resorting to beating their asses. It’s a maxim I really try to live by as a parent.
Though I do love that song about him acting the fool up in here. I wonder who’s kids he wrote that shit about?