Sunday, August 13, 2006

Scratch and sniff

Leave it to me to have air travel booked for Thursday. When I arrived at the Hartford airport that morning, I'd been living under a work rock for 48 hours and hadn't even heard the news that morning about the terrorist plot from London.

My journey back to the Twin Cities was scheduled to take off at 6:07 AM, and I arrived at the airport about 4:45. That seemed like plenty of time until I reached the security screening checkpoint. The process seemed to be going a lot slower than usual.

As my spot in the line got closer to the entry of the checkpoint, I noticed a small landfill forming - mostly beverages. Then I heard a frail older security employee rasping, as if he'd repeated the same sentence a million times, "Absolutely no liquids allowed in carry-on baggage."

The $2 bottle of water I had just bought 15 minutes ago was obviously going to be my first lost item. I chugged about half of it and threw the rest on the landfill pile, which also welcomed the 10-pack of Juicy Juice from the mom and kid in front of me.

We proceeded into the next checkpoint area, where there was heavier screening than normal, including hand searching of all carry-on bags. I started to think if I had any other liquids in my duffel bag I may have not thought of as I watched it disappear into the X-Ray machine.

"I don't know how my boy's going to make it to Miami with no juice," the Juicy Juice Momma sighed to me. "He's always thirsty. If he don't get juice, he whines worse than his daddy for a beer after mowin' the lawn."

"You think you have problems," the gabby rich bitch in front of her interrupted. "They want to take away my expensive rain forest shampoo. You can only get it in Ecuador..."

She babbled some bullshit about how local villagers painstakingly collect fresh beehive honey, dew from banana leaves and rain forest trees, the finest coconut milk, salamander saliva, and butterfly sweat before delicately mixing it with local fruits and herbs. OK, so I made up the salamander saliva and butterfly sweat, but was this the airport security screening line, or the lead-in for some new Nick Chavez QVC Today's Special Value?

"That sucks they took it away because it costs about $60 down there, which is like a year's salary to many locals," she bragged. "Don't let their hard work go to waste. You better go ahead and smell me now that you have the chance."

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"Go ahead, smell me," she whispered, leaning her head towards my nose. "I know you want to. Smell me."

"Smell you? I hardly even know you," I replied.

She kept moving her head in unison with my retreating nose as if she was a cobra being charmed by a flute.

"No, I'm fine, really," I said, trying to stretch my neck to giraffe-like proportions.

What did she think we were - St. Bernards meeting for the first time? She wasn't exactly asking me to sniff her ass to say hello, but human beings generally don't throw body parts around and ask others to snort them like a line of cocaine.

"I gotta little itch right here," she pointed to the top of her scalp. "Maybe you can scratch, then sniff. Get it? Like the stickers!"

If the creepy conversation wasn't enough, she had a bushel of her bleach-blonde straw in her hand, pulling it towards my nose. She didn't need to practically pull her hair out for me to get a whiff. Everyone in line had already noticed the odor coming off her mophead.

"It's invigorating, isn't it?" she squeaked. "My hair smells just like the rain forest."

If the rain forest smells like toucan taint, why the fuck are we trying to save it? Granted, I've never buried my sniffer into the crotch of that colorful bird, but her hair definitely smelled like bird shit blended with notes of Froot Loops.

A security officer rescued me from the Toucan Samantha trainwreck to inform me he needed to search my toiletries bag. He emptied about half of it, then apologized for taking my toothpaste, mouthwash and shampoo.

"That's OK," I said. "I stole all of those things from the hotel room anyway. I know the rules now, so next time I'll just take the shower cap and the shoeshine rag."

The items that they were confiscating got my wheels turning as to what this new terrorist threat was. Has Al Qaeda turned to MacGyver DVDs to try and figure out newer and more inventive ways to attack us?

"Please, kiddo, you can't take that!" the 60-something playboy next to me pleaded to another security officer. "That cost me $75!"

The item in question was a mammoth cologne bottle, roughly the size of a 1.75-litre party jug of whiskey. I had no idea they had a perfume counter at Costco.

"Please let me keep my smelly sauce," Old Spice begged. " I have a date with Mildred tonight and when I wear that stuff, she's the clay and I'm the sculptor."

Again, way too much information. The thought of Old Spice molding Mildred ranked right up there with watching Anna Nicole Smith seduce that cadaver; witnessing Hugh Hefner cavorting with those three groupies who are young enough to be his great granddaughters; or viewing that pottery porn scene from Ghost.

But I believed Old Spice. If a bottle that big is his travel cologne, he probably bathes in smelly sauce before his dates with Mildred. Then when Old Spice hugs her, it's probably as if he's smothering her with an ether rag. No wonder he always gets to iron out poor Mildred's wrinkles.

A few minutes later, they cleared me through security. My carry-on bag was a little lighter, but I was on my way back to St. Paul after all.

"My, aren't you festive today," the stewardess sneered when I entered the plane.

I had no clue what she was talking about, but was paranoid I had somehow absorbed a lethal cocktail of scents from Toucan Samantha and Old Spice. The Rockette clued me in when I got home.

"Ha! You wore a bright orange polo shirt today and the terror threat was orange," The Rockette giggled. "Your color coordination was a noble public service. Nice move, honey."

She suggested that next time I wear camoflauge so I blend in better. The Rockette thought the bright orange shirt may have also acted as a weirdo porch light, attracting moths like Toucan Samantha and Old Spice.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Juicy, Not Fruit

Like any young kid, I was full of questions for my parents to answer. Why this. Why that. I'll have to admit, Dad had the most unique answers of any father I've ever heard.

"Dad, which came first - the egg or the chicken?" I'd ask.

"The rooster," Dad would chuckle.

Dad's answers were brief and to the point. Sometimes his actions spoke louder than words.

Like the time he was digging a huge hole to install a swimming pool at our house in Virginia. I noticed a gigantic beetle, probably the size of a bandicoot, staggering across the cement.

"What kind of bug is that?" I asked, lying on my stomach, my face inches away from the mother of all insects.

Dad took a break from his digging, slung his 25-pound sledgehammer across his shoulder and looked down for a moment. He grinned, then reared back with the hammer, slamming it down on the bug.

The beetle splattered under the fury of Dad's hammer, sending a tidal wave of juicy bug inards all over my face.

"A dead one," Dad muttered before realizing he had vandalized my face with bug juice.

I let out a blood-curdling scream that was probably heard for miles and began to grope blindly at the air, my eyes covered with Beetlejuice.

Dad pulled out his hankerchief and wallet simultaneously, dropping dollar bills while trying frantically to wipe all that buggy goodness off my face.

"Don't tell Mom about this. Don't tell Mom," he pleaded.

It was too late. A mother knows her child's cry and she was on the scene in seconds. Dad was busted and I was $13 richer, so in the end the traumatic incident didn't bug me.

After that, I didn't ask Dad too many questions. With him, I figured I was better off finding answers myself.