Sure, you've probably heard about the smoking van in Times Square this past weekend. A competent author would have linked the story just there- BUT I'M NO SUCH ANIMAL. But that wasn't the only potential threat to the safety of Americans this past weekend. Your double-denim-donning scribe was pulled out of the security line by the TSA after passing his carry-on through the treadmill scanner x-ray detective machine. "We have to scan your bag again." she said icily. "Okay!" I said, docile, friendly, polite. I was begging for the opportunity to call someone "sir". My traveling companions, already clear of the checkpoint that declared them Good and Loyal Americans, began to eye me with concern. They'd known me for years...but how many years? And for how much of those years was I hiding behind a cloak of deception? A facade framed perhaps too painstakingly- the blonde hair, the blue eyes, the affable, easy grin, the denim jeans and denim jacket I had stowed away in a closet in suburban Philadelphia. Some try to hide their secrets just a little too hard. A second TSA agent consulted with the first, looking at the X-ray screen. Upon each visage, frowns were fashioned in sagging sideways commas of consternation. My bag was moved to the side, I was beckoned to follow- BUT NOT TOO CLOSE. They unzipped it, they rummaged, they consulted. They saw everything. The book, the ipod, the sealed quart bag with liquid toiletries each individually consisting of no more than three ounces, the three days of dirty clothes, the Ikea chocolate bar. My most personal and valued things. I was humiliated. Mortified, I asked if I could put my sneakers on.
"Can I put my sneakers on?"
Seconds passed. "Okay, you're fine." And then my luggage tag fell off. "Oh Geez, sorry about that." he said. "No problem!" I responded brightly, humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic as I scuttled away to rejoin my now-welcoming travel compatriots. Traveling patriots.