Our long-planned, much anticipated trip “across the pond” last month got off to a shaky start. At the airport in my hometown, I set off the metal detector approximately eight times. After I’d taken everything except my dental fillings out to eliminate the problem, I was approached by a serious-faced TSA worker.
“Ma’am, we can do this here or we can do it in private,” she said, snapping blue gloves tidily into place. I had an immediate flashback to my last gynecological exam.
I was very nervous, as I always am in the presence of uniformed quasi-law enforcement.
“Here is fine,” I stammered. Thank heavens I was keeping it together better than my friend, who famously got so nervous at a traffic stop that she called the cop “your majesty.”
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“Ma’am, are you wearing anything metal around your waist?” the TSA royalty asked me.
“Whaaa? No! I, mean, I have a slip on, just a half slip because….”
“Ma’am, is there a safety pin in that half slip?”
She did NOT just say that.
But she did. I looked over to see if my loving family and travel partners, Duh Hubby and the Princess, had heard this, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see them half out of their chairs convulsing in laughter.
“No! I don’t have a safety pin in my slip,” I said a little haughtily. I wanted to add that I also didn’t have a corncob pipe or a jug with XXX on it in my carry-on.
Here’s the worst part. You see, I have never been patted down before, so I made a rather embarrassing miscalculation. While the TSA officer assertively patted my, well, boobal area, and then began to work her way, as Aunt Verlie says, to the “South of France,” I thought I would help a sistah out and began to lift the skirt of my maxi dress.
“Ma’am! Ma’am! You don’t need to lift your garment!”
I didn’t mean to offend; I just thought when she said she would need to go up my thighs, she’d be on the INSIDE of the dress.
Turns out, she didn’t mean that at all, and she would pat me on the outside of the fabric.
I dropped the wadded-up fabric that I had hiked up, and she looked enormously relieved, as did the line of puzzled passengers waiting their turn.
Finally, after what seemed like a very long time but was probably less than two minutes, I was told that I was “free to go.”
“What set it off, do you think?” I asked the TSA officer. I mean, I felt like we needed to have some sort of closure. Or maybe a drink together at the On Time! lounge.
She shrugged and walked away, tossing her blue gloves into the trash.
For the first time in a decade, I really wanted a cigarette.