August 30, 2006

Terrorists Took My Lip Gloss

Back in the days before anyone thought of using an airplane as a weapon, flying was considered a special treat. My father would wear a suit and tie and my sister and I were dressed in patent leather shoes and pink wool coats. Stewardesses, as they were called before the more androgynous "flight attendant," clipped down the aisles in designer suits and high heels. Glamour abounded.

When the first criminal mind thought to hijack a plane, we passengers became subject to screening to make sure we were not carrying guns. Now, it never would have occurred to me to take a gun, toy or otherwise on a plane. As much as I would have liked to kill a fellow passenger at times, especially the competitive whistler who sat next to me on an overnight flight who never tired of demonstrating, I had no problem leaving the revolver at home.

After 9-11, any sharp object became suspect and my handy corkscrew (which I kept on me at all times like a good girl scout prepared for any pinot blanc emergency) was confiscated. Then it was my nail file. I can tell you as someone who has tried to pick a lock, open a can of tuna fish and remove a splinter with a nail file, that it's not really that sharp. My hangnail that I wished to file down could cause more damage. But fine, in the interest of national security, you can take my nail file.

The famous Paris shoe bomber came next so we all had to remove our shoes at security check points. Odor eaters should have seen a seismic sales increase as people's private foot smell problems became embarrassingly public. With a love of high heel strappy sandals, I couldn't believe my shoes were still suspicious. I can't even comfortably fit my feet into them let alone any plastic explosives. My fear of contracting some weird filthy airport floor fungus was more ever-present than Al Qaeda. But better safe and smelly than sorry so now we all stand, watchless, beltless, shoeless, feeling half naked in front of total strangers watching old ladies with metal hip replacements getting shaken down by security. Well, you never know how many midwestern grannies might have turned to the dark side.

And now, with the latest terrorist plot to bomb a plane using liquids in carry on items, the security issue has reached an all-new height of personal censorship. They have confiscated my lip gloss. Could a terrorist really bring down a plane with Mostly Mauve? I thought this violent element came from a repressive culture where makeup was forbidden. Maybe that's part of their grand plan to make Western women abandon their expensive Chanel makeup and mascara at security check points all over the world.

In addition to the millions of collective hours we have lost in sleep to get to the airport early for the long security check in process and stress from therein which leads to early death, these terrorists are depriving us of our essential in-flight accessories for pleasant air travel. I cannot bring my moisturizer for dry skin or my Rescue Remedy, an herbal Valium, to calm my nerves, or even a bottle of water to stay hydrated. All gone. And without the ability to sneak in mini booze bottles, my wallet is a little lighter as well as I will have to pay for my vodka tonic which I need even more now that my Rescue Remedy is confiscated.

So now terrorists (and deregulation) have made a once-glamorous and comfortable mode of travel one of the most unpleasant ways to get from point A to point B. The terrorists' ability to wreak havoc on each and every one of our lives must be considered a success of sorts. The worse part, however, lip gloss loss aside, is that with the increasingly broad definition of what is dangerous, we are ruled more and more by fear. And creating fear is exactly what the bad guys want.

Yet it makes me crazy that federal money which could be spent on education, and health care and our own country's infrastructure is instead spent on a man who is searching my purse for lip gloss. Shouldn't the focus be on forming a comprehensive and intelligent foreign policy to try to understand how this all happened in the first place?

I may just be forced to put on my patent leather shoes and prepare for my cross-country trip . . . in the car. At least I will look pretty while I travel.

Feel free to send comments to kissandtellhb@hotmail.com.

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