Ok. Question: What is it about being blond, diminutive, antiquated and dilapidated that inevitably alerts the TSA that I am a nefarious terrorist with plans specifically engineered to annihilate the universe?
What is it about my particular body plan – namely, a heartbeat and a full set of limbs – that piques the olfactory properties of airline security agents to sniff out the exceptionally delicate distinction between a grandma going on a road trip with friends and an emotionally disheveled, menopausal bipedal hominid whose binary code includes a propensity for kamikaze suicide missions?
Now I realize I’m just one small part of a Sublime Whole, but maybe it’s what life is all about – you attract what you dread.
And I dread flying.
This is all prologue to an incident that took place recently when a friend and I were to fly to Palm Desert for a girls’ retreat.
Sounds benign enough…four women with charge cards unleashed on Paseo Drive.
We could hardly wait for the flight to be over and the shopping to begin. And I figured that with enough planning and forethought, things would go smoothly, and I just might make it through security without incident.
WHAT WAS I THINKING???
My traveling companion is truly the sum of her parts. Every joint has been bionically enhanced with titanium steel fashioned from the fires of Vulcan himself. She is built for endurance rather than decoration.
I, on the other hand, have all my original equipment, derelict though it be. However, my appearance suggests a life of deprivation. In addition, I am careful to observe cleavage protocol, although that is more a condition of circumstance than choice. Basically, nothing to attract undue notice.
In short, I was ready for my close-up.
I tried to reassure my friend that when her joints triggered the nuclear reactors, I would stand vigil over her belongings while the feds conducted a cavity search. Humiliation minimizer. That’s me. What are friends for anyway?
Oh, how could I be a casualty of my own self-deceiving blindness? Eileen passed through the featureless machines with nary a blip on the radar. She emerged unscathed. It was slick and unremarkable. The gods were smiling.
And then it was my turn. I was in a different line. No need to fear. Hadn’t I spent the past month preparing through meditation, medication, and meticulous packing for this very moment?
The instant I entered the time capsule, the entire alarm system was triggered, the whole airport went into lockdown, and the Navy Seals appeared with AK 47’s. I stood in a warm squirt of adrenal fluid and a superabundance of secretions, as every saucer-eyed passenger knew with irrefutable surety that I, the anatomically threatening, was a strange and palpable menace.
An employee, looking cross and officious, with a name tag that I’m sure said ”Festus,” announced that they would have to do a “pat-down.” I replied, “Don’t touch my junk, bro.” But a woman was available to do the honors, which gave a whole new meaning to the term “drag and drop.”
Meanwhile, Festus methodically unspooled the clothes from my bag with fevered delirium, checking for hazardous mascara and jammies that might indicate relaxed morality. No offense to Festus, but where do they get these guys anyway? He obviously wasn’t feathered with diplomas, and while not exactly hostile, he knew I was not a source of peril. Talk about character assassination.
Then they dusted my hands for explosives residue.
I was mortified. Why me? Apparently, the guy in front of me with the dreadlocks tied back with a bungee cord in the shape of a noose, a mouth grill studded with spikes and inlaid with shrunken heads, and a tatt that read, “I know where the body is,” was no cause for alarm. He moved through the system without skipping a beat.
Vaguely offended at the whole preposterous incident, I asked why I, in particular, had been selected from the herd for such scrutiny. Why me? Why did I trigger the alarms? Why am I a POI…a person of interest?
Festus replied with cryptic clarity, “You didn’t do anything. It’s random. Purely random.”
Random. Really??? Just random. OOOHHHKKKAAAYYY!
Well, sleep deprivation working on weak minds sent us into spasms of hysteria. We laughed without shame, restraint or Depends all the way to Palm Desert. It was the perfect beginning to our vacation.
There are still more days to travel in this life. I guess one could do worse than be a “person of interest.”