Monday, November 20, 2006

Air Paranoia

Patty here...

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?


  1. Air paranoia is right. Add trying to get from Point A to Point B during any holiday season and, well, yuck.

  2. I don't want to think about the insidious creep of paranoia, but oh, Patty, do I ever agree with you about the luggage! My days of toting carry on bags are over as well.

    I recently bought a new suitcase, one billed as a "weekender." Weekender, my ass. The only kind of weekend it could cover for is one I spent in bed. No room for shoes, cosmetics or the six outfits I couldn't decide on so I brought them all.

    Maybe I should confine my travel to driving trips. If I attached one of those cute little U-Haul trailers, I'm sure I'd have enough room to pack for a weekend.

  3. All part of why I have vowed never to fly again, except for a family emergency. Teach the airlines a lesson they'll never understand! I can live with rules, but when they're randomly chosen, and primarily for show--no way. A couple years ago, inside the "secure" area at the boarding gate, they made a big show of searching the Captain/pilot--made him take his shoes off, his jacket, his hat, and wanded them all--all the time chatting with him, obviously they knew each other. Theatre, through and through. It's train or drive to Thrillerfest next year.


  4. Hope you didn't let that sneaky snarky scofflaw dissipate the afterglow.


    Hmmm. I'm quite sure that you've never, ever broken any rules before. And such an occasion wouldn't have been one of the referents that you and your girlfriends hold in your store of shared memories.

    I hope that you're still basking in the afterglow.

  6. Somehow the idea of a U-Haul full of wrinkle cream is sounding more and more appealing. Rae, maybe you Louise and I can chip in on the rental for next year's Bcon. Wait! It's in Anchorage. Never mind...

    Group, wouldn't it be loverly if trains (and private train cars) made a come back? What a grand trip to Tfest that would be!

    Love the aliteration, Mims. Hope your flight was sans sneaky snarky scofflaws.

    Thanks for the good thoughts, Jeff. Don't know if I'm still basking in the afterglow or if it's just a hangover. Sheesh!

  7. from Jacqueline

    Having just finished with the almost never-ending book tour, I would be happy if I never saw a 'plane again in my life. As I was leaving Heathrow last week I was informed that one piece of hand baggage meant one piece, not one piece and a purse, or wallet. So, I had to shove my book, my magazines and various other diversions for my 11-hour flight into my purse, and check the small piece of hand baggage. I have truly had enough of the whole flying thing - it is a most undignified means of travel, and it gets worse when you find yourself profiling the other passengers, which I really try not to do - it's a bit like being on the London underground and not wanting to stand next to anyone with a backpack ... now that's nigh on impossible!

    Mind you, sounds like a great getaway, Patty!

  8. We will all be happy when Our Jacqueline is back safely on California soil. What a killer tour you've had!

  9. I'm with you on getting Our J back safe to Cali, Patty. This is a wonderful post, but not exactly what I should be reading to calm down on the day we booked plane tickets for Christmas in Syracuse....

  10. Cornelia, wanna borrow my lucky earrings?

  11. Patty, you scofflaw......was that Voss Water or Smart Water you smuggled onto the aircraft?

    Next thing you know some idiot at Homeland Security will watch "Mary Full of Grace" and decide that we all must go through cavity searches and barium X-rays.

    The meaning of terrorism is that it causes terror. To that extent, we aren't winning the war on that------when we have to worry about lip gels and, heaven forbid, more than 3ozs of contact solution.
    Bin Laden has Bin Laffin at us all.......BTW: I think he's got a cart at 42nd and Broadway where he pedals shisk-ka-bob

    As a side note, you will love Anchorage next year....and I've never heard of any fringe eskimo terrorist groups railing about goverment intervention on the whale oil trade....However,once I heard one on an Alaskan Airlines flight singing "Allah be praised" to the tune of Kum Ba Ya....In the words of that immortal philosopher-social commentarian, Rodney King:"Can't we all just get along?"

    PS: You should turn that wantabe terrorist with her DANGER LIP GEL over to the TSA.....or risk being an accomplice.

  12. Jon, I have to admit to buying a bottle of Voss from a display in a hotel room where I stayed recently. I just had to see what all the fuss was about. The water came in a glass bottle, which I saved because I thought it would make an attractive bud vase. Five USD and 12 OZ later, I still can't figure out what all the fuss is about. Purity, I guess.

  13. I once enjoyed the hospitality of Iran Air. Everyone had to identify their luggage on the tarmac then toss it into the hold. This was done under the watchful eye of Bundesgrenzpolizei with automatic weapons. Once on board though it was fun. Everyone stood in the aisle and smoked. Someone offered me some lamb entrails and I thought, wow, this is just like United. The stewards were nice. They asked everyone if they wanted something although that turned out to be curiosity rather than service. We were warned not to cook over an open flame. Have a nice flight and death to the west!

  14. David, you made me laugh out loud. Then I paused in awe. Do you still have your frequent flyer card?

  15. Patty, I only fly Garuda Airlines these days. Those guys will fly inverted for a look at the South China Sea.

  16. Patty.....yes, I was being jocular about the Voss reference.I mean if you're gonna break the law [according to the traveler sitting next to you], I guess it should be for top drawer stuff.
    I'd hate to see Midnight Express played out over some Sparkletts water.
    You are absolutely right, all the fuss is over nothing.But we're a society that bought pet rocks too.
    How's that the vase working out,though?

    PS: Dave,have you ever tried the lamb entrails on United? They are much better than the lamb entrails on Delta.

  17. Sorry, I meant the lamb entrails on United are better than the Boar entrails on Delta. Sorry, my bad.

  18. WHAT!!!!??? You can get entrails on air flights these days? You must be flying first class.