Please remove your pants and bend over, baldy
“NO LIQUIDS OR GELS OF ANY KIND WILL BE PERMITTED IN CARRY-ON BAGGAGE. ITEMS MUST BE IN CHECKED BAGGAGE. This includes all beverages, shampoo, suntan lotion, creams, tooth paste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency.”That’s what it says on the TSA website – http://www.tsa.org. Due to last week’s discovery of a plot to blow up planes using gelatinous explosive, air travel will, once again, never be the same. The thing that puzzles me the most is why it has taken so long for this ban to occur – liquids and gels, even the non-exploding variety, have always been dangerous. Aquafresh, the multi-striped gel toothpaste, may effectively freshen breath and fight cavities, but it stings like hell when it gets in your eyes. You could easily take over a plane by wielding a tube of this stuff. (Well … if it was a new tube, not one that had been squeezed all flat in the middle.)And as far as liquids go, what’s more dangerous that Coca Cola? I’m not talking about its virus-like global pervasiveness, but its ability, when mixed with Pop Rocks, to make your head explode. The threat of a mouthful of Pop Rocks and a swig of Coke is enough to make any pilot fly a plane into something other than a landing strip. And I’m pretty sure Pop Rocks do not show up on the metal detector.And as far as danger goes, what about the stuff that’s waiting there for you once you’ve boarded the plane? In-flight magazines? Deadly. Think paper cuts. Or perfume sample cards. Those little pretzel packets? Maybe not an immediate threat, perhaps, but all that salt cannot be good for your blood pressure. Those pillows they give you? If you bunched, say, three of them together, you could totally suffocate someone. Eventually.The TSA official list mentions lotions and creams, but what about ointments? Or salves? Or balms? Or liniments? And how about unguents? Are they forbidden, too? Look, if I have to sit through a long plane ride without an easily accessible unguent, then the War on Chaffing has been lost.I’ve been flying more than usual lately, and as I watch the TSA agents go through their screening routines to check for potential bombs, or nail clippers, or whatever, I feel like I’m watching a surreal cartoon. Are we safer because elderly women are forced to remove their K-Mart flip-flops before boarding a plane? Hard to say, I guess. Though I certainly feel well protected from the mounting threat of airport-based efficiency or dignity.Seriously, though, here’s my main concern – since the guy got on the plane with a shoe-bomb a while back, we shall forever have to take our shoes off while walking through the security line. Now that the explosive gel has taken center stage, all of your hygienic goods of a certain consistency are, probably from this point on, banned. So, what happens when some guy gets caught trying to board a plane with a pants-based explosive device? No more pants on board – they have to be in your checked luggage with the explosive liquids. Or when someone develops an explosive that can be soaked into the follicles of your hair and detonated by the static electricity created by the complimentary headphones? Please take off your shoes, have your boarding pass and ID available, and step over to the barber station. Or, and I’m sure this day is coming – when someone develops a suppository bomb? They’ll be easy enough to check for, since we lucky air travelers already won’t be wearing pants.This is the vision I see for the future of air travel – no pants or shoes, shaved bald and bent over in plain sight while on the business end of a gloved finger. And all this without the aid of unguents.Thanks for traveling with us, have a nice flight, and no, sorry, we don’t even give out pretzels anymore.Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is barry@Irrelativity.com, and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com
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