Recently, my family and I embarked on the arduous (and somewhat expensive) trip from Nashville to California to visit my family. It was an interesting trip - both fun and...well, interesting.
Mal takes us to the airport, driving our '94 Dodge Caravan for the first time in his life. Since we arrived with all windows firmly intact, the hood ornament still flopping in place, and the transmission agreeably shifting gears when needed, I counted the journey a success.
Mal was busy bemoaning the fact that he neglected to bring a wig and hat to wear in case someone recognized him behind the wheel. He thinks it's bad for his cop image to be seen driving an ancient, paint-peeled-off, hood-ornament-flapping minivan with visible car seats.
I think driving the occasional minivan is good for a man's soul.
Mal insisted that he will never, NEVER, own a minivan. My hubby and I laughed over that one. Give it ten years, we said. We'll be hitching a ride in your crumb-coated, crayon-decorated, rancid-sippy-cup-of-milk-hiding-in-the-tiny-crevice-between-the-car-seat-and-the-wall minivan.
Wait and see.
My kids have flown before, but they barely remember. It's been four years since we moved from California. My oldest thinks he hated the whole thing. My middle child thinks it only took an hour. My youngest remembers crashing in a fiery ball of doom.
I assure them they are all wrong.
I myself hate to fly. There is something inherently wrong with strapping oneself in besides hords of strangers who don't always pay attention to personal hygiene or personal space and hurtling 39,000 feet up into the air with only canned water and a bag of peanuts as consolation. And don't even get me started on the "turn-around-too-fast-and-knock-yourself-silly" bathrooms. If we have the technology to use jet-powered toilet flushing with suction strong enough to yank your eye teeth out through your patoot, surely we can figure out how to add five more inches to the lavatory to minimize the risk of head trauma in the event of sudden turbulence.
However, as much as I hate to fly, I hate the thought of driving 3000 miles cross-country with three caged boys even more so I disguised my anxiety, refused to take my usual dramamine (one needs ALL of one's mental acuteness to be razor sharp if one is to deal with three boys on a four hour flight), and pretended like flying was no big deal.
I hit a small snag at security. We'd yanked our electronic equipment out of our carry-ons - 2 cell phones, 1 game boy, 2 i pods, 1 digital camera, and a portable dvd player - stripped off shoes and jackets, and piled all of our belongings onto the conveyor.
No one set off the metal detector for which I was greatly relieved. I do the laundry around here. I know the kind of strange objects one finds in my children's pockets. I really didn't want to have to explain to the nice Amazon woman with the body-cavity probe why my youngest had scissors in his pocket, my middle child had a box cutter and my oldest had loops of piano wire.
Fortunately, all pockets were clear. My hubby, shaved head non-withstanding, set off no alarms and appeared non-threatening to all airport personnel.
I was another matter.
My purse sailed through on the conveyor belt and failed to come out the other side.
Amazon woman yelled for a bag check.
A man with some sort of badge pinned to his chest appeared out of nowhere and snatched my purse, locked eyes with me, and asked me to step to the side with him for a bag search.
I remained outwardly calm while inside I was racing through the contents of my purse, trying to think of what could be in there and what kind of explanation I could give.
Nail clippers? Nope, packed those.
Nail file? No, just a basic, flimsy emory board. To my knowledge, no one has ever died because of an emory board.
Scissors? A valid question considering the items my youngest routinely brings out of the house.
(Picture us in the middle of the grocery store. My youngest interrupts his constant stream of chatter with "Mom, can I cut out this picture?" The question penetrates my "if-I-just-focus-for-ten-more-minutes-I-can-be-out-of-here" haze and I turn to find him brandishing a pair of scissors - my scissors - at a box of graham crackers. I snatch the scissors away, ask him why on earth would he have scissors in the grocery store and roll my eyes when he says, "just in case I felt creative." One more reason to shop alone.)
The man digs through to the bottom of my purse (no easy feat, I assure you) and brings out the dangerous items in question...
Three lip glosses and a half-used container of Freesia-scented hand sanitizer.
"You can't have these." He says to me.
I want to say "You can't have them either. Those aren't your colors."
Instead, I say, "Really?"
"Unless you want to go back out, pack them into zip lock bags, and come through the line again." He says to me.
So, the lip gloss is dangerous but if it's contained in a plastic bag, it becomes safe? Couldn't I just open the bag? And anyway, where am I going to get zip lock bags now?
I smile at the man, showing all of my teeth, and say, "keep them".
I'm irritated with myself for not realizing that lip gloss and hand sanitizer are on the "no-no" list.
There is a "no-no" list. I read through the entire thing with some amazement the day before we left. I can bring nail clippers now, and blunt nail scissors, but meat cleavers, power saws, and bottle rockets are not allowed. Neither are bayonets, harpoons, and cannons. Understandable, though in such close quarters, perhaps not the brightest choice of weaponry.
But who brings a power saw on an airplane? Where are you going to plug it in to do any damage? Are these items listed because of previously experienced threats or are they just covering bases for all contingencies?
The last item on the list was my favorite.
I told my husband that snowglobes were now considered weapons and he donned his best Austin Powers British accent and said,
"Honestly, who throws a snowglobe?"
More on our travels soon...