I just returned from a weekend getaway with four friends. The Gang of Five hadn’t been together in way too long, so to make up for lost time we spent the days eating and drinking and having endless talks about politics, books, movies, and men. We laughed. A lot. We created shared memories and added to our own private vocabulary. Even when we’re eighty, when somebody mentions the Mimsi Suite we’ll all nod and chuckle.
It was a wonderful trip but air travel can be taxing. First you have to make sure your socks aren’t holey, and all contraband has been stripped from your purse. To add to your woes, you never know from trip to trip what you’ll be allowed to take on the airplane. The days of carrying my luggage on board are gone. I have trouble fitting all my cosmetics into a duffle bag, let alone a quart-sized baggie.
The flight coming back to Los Angeles was an hour late leaving the gate. Not even my lucky earrings could control that. I boarded the plane still basking in the afterglow of my girlfriend weekend and settled into my seat. I reached into my bag and took a swig from my bottled water.
The woman sitting next to me stared in disbelief. “How did you get that on board?”
“They changed the rules,” I said. “Water is okay as long as you buy it after you clear security.”
She looked at me skeptically. “They were confiscating water from other passengers.”
For a moment I began to doubt myself. Had I somehow failed to note the reinstated bottled water ban? HAD I BROKEN THE RULES? That’s when I noticed she was shaping her nails with a metal file that looked like a shiv made by a lifer in some maximum-security prison. A moment later, she pulled a contact lens case from her purse, screwed off the top, and dipped her finger into a pool of contraband lip gel.
My turn to look aghast.
“Oops,” she said. “I guess I forgot it was in my purse.”
Like hell. Then I began to wonder: Why was she trying to conceal that gel in a contact lens container? This was followed by a more troubling thought.
How low will our paranoia go?