June 2011 – Columbus Airport
I walked into the x-ray, put up my arms, formed the ritualistic triangle above my forehead, got scanned, and stepped-out to face the frumpy TSA woman studying my x-ray.
“Sir, please step forward.”
She’s impressed with my coccyx.
“Male check on 1.”
A guy resembling Michael Chiklis from ‘The Shield’ walked over, said:
“Sir, please raise your arms.”
I assumed the crucifixion pose, and instead of scanning my crotch or legs, or ‘bomb regions’ of the body the TSA agent wanded my armpits ONLY, frowned, and said I could go.
“Why did you wand my armpits?” I asked
“We picked up some metal on the scanner.”
“In my armpits?”
“Yeah, the aluminum in your deodorant set it off.”
Present Day – Roam About Bedroom
Remembering the TSA conversation, I apply my hippie-dippie, aluminum free, no-panda-tears, all-natural, tea-tree scented, JASON deodorant – praying it protects me from the forces of scented evil this inevitably long, taxing day.
It’s 3 am, Marti’s fast asleep and my cat/puma, Thief Richards – inherently nocturnal – looks at me, perplexed and sleepy.
“Why are you up?” Thief asks, raising a hind leg behind his head, licking his inner thigh
“I have to go to Boston all day for a meeting.”
“Yeah. My flight is at 5…..did you just fall asleep?”
Grab my computer bag, toss the deodorant in there in case of an emergency reapply, off to Columbus ‘international’ airport (jumper flights to Windsor, Canada grants the ‘international’ moniker).
Deodorant Level: 10 – Smooth, calm, cultured machismo like Sean Connery Bond. Yesh. Shank you.
I’ve recently developed – not fear – but particular anxieties when flying. I’m straight-up terrified of spiders, and heights, and I’m sure there’s a psychological correlation betwixt the two, or I fell off a cliff in a past life, survived the fall, immobilized by a compound fracture jutting through my shin skin, consumed slowly by mutant tarantulas; the latter the more sensible explanation.
But my flight anxieties are due to a control issue (singular), spear-headed by consecutive rough ‘hopper flights’ aboard a two-prop plane flown by a guy who looked younger than Haley Joel Osment circa ‘Sixth Sense’.
While the inexperienced, cherub-faced Captain Osment – drinking from his sippy-cup – sat in the cockpit yelling ‘Weeeeeee!’ at every bone-jarring column of turbidity, sending cabin-beverages a’soarin’, my sweat glands pooled up against the rickety dam of ph-balance in my hippie deodorant.
Sweat Glands: “Ahhhhhhhhhh!”
Hippie Deodorant: “Sorry, Brah, I’m a pacifist. Surf’s up!”
But everything is cool this flight; smooth ride with a stopover at D.C. local, then, casually glancing at my ticket, I notice there’s only 35 minutes between my connection. Uh-oh.
We tarmac-park 400 yards from the terminal, and I watch, as the US Air employees nonchalantly push the stairs to our plane with the efficiency and expeditiousness of moribund sloths.
I want to tap on the double pane window and mouth, “Does your Union pay you in Benadryl?”
20 minutes left to my connecting flight, 10 before gate closes, I run off the plane, ‘Shuttle’ to the terminal, run up the escalator – last call for my flight on the loud-speaker – Usain Bolt-it to the gate accidentally pushing a rotund gentleman standing in line at Cinnabon.
“Hey!” He yells
“You don’t need it!” I yell back (not really); referring to a gooey cinnamon dough heart attack awaiting consumption – this verbal epiphany, striking the core of his very being.
“He’s…right, I don’t need it. You’re right! Hahaha! I don’t need this! Thank you! I’m free!” He triumphantly declares, born-again, free from the heavy chains of Cinnabon’s coronary captivity – onwards to a life of health, riches, and according to US marketing, a bevy of exotic women.
This is how the interaction played out in my head, anyways.
Deodorant Level 8: Still smooth, less confident, but capable of melting the heart of the 50-something lady gate-agent with my Roger Moore wink.
Cab ride from Logan airport; it’s 9 am – meeting starts at 10. I give the cabbie the address, and we take a very long detour around Boston. Not paying attention, busy reviewing a presentation, I get the inkling we’re going the wrong way.
“What’s the address you typed in?”
The cabbie repeats it back to me.
“The one I gave you is downtown, where are you going?”
I half expect Dr. No’s crony to turn around, and say, “To meet your maker, Mr. Bond,” flicking a switch, pouring pink smoke in the backseat from the air vent, choking me out.
This doesn’t happen. Instead the cabbie apologizes. His iphone software “was just updated”, and the new navigator (googlemaps) took us half-way to fucking Connecticut.
Deodorant Level 6: Slightly beat-up, anxieties bordering stink, scent of weak origin script – Daniel Craig as James Blonde…er…Bond.
To protect my precious annual salary, I can’t delve into meeting details, but I arrive on time, converse, present, worry, mitigate, high-five, pizza-break, and the meeting lasts until 4 pm. I contemplate a deo. reapply upon leaving, if only for the sake of my co-worker, who is now synced with my travel agenda. Nah.
Back at Logan airport, a couple of beers after a hard day, 14 hours into B.O. DMZ, and the hippies have stopped protesting the war in my armpits, if you will, and I sit at the FOX sports SkyBar, ragged, tired, wafting.
Deodorant Level: 3 – ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ – George Lazenby Bond. Smelly Telly Savalas. Before you get all pissy about how low this Bond is ranked: 1. I don’t believe you’ve even heard of George Lazenby’s Bond 2. I realize this is the closest to Ian Fleming’s image of Bond, James Bond, but no one replaces Sean Connery as James Bond. Not even Sean Connery.
Two-hour stop-over in Philly, co-worker is thankfully (for her sake) not sitting next to me. I’m reading a short story by genius David Foster Wallace with my arms firmly against my body, and everything is cool as we reach cruising altitude at dusk.
Brilliant flashes far off the horizon, above the sparkling lights below, like some far away battle, I ignore it, and doze off, as gracefully as any 6’2” human can in Economy.
It starts with a slight tremor; a shark fin nicking the boat.
Then – Wham! Double Wham! I’m awake, and I feel the plane diving for cover a few thousand below.
Seat belt bong.
Turbulence warning from Captain (who sounds more Bruce Willis than Osment, double-plus good)
Anxiety – Deodorant Level: 00.7 – Pierce Brosnan-everything-after-‘Golden Eye’ Bond. Frankly, I stink.
I’m (we’re) at the mercy of the Captain’s abilities BUMP and whatever computer system is keeping us from barrel rolling into the sea of finite darkness WHAM and I hope the system’s an Apple product because I like the sleek look of Apple products BANGBAMBANGDIP oh my L. Ron I’m too young to die and I’ve never been to Asia WHAM and I’ve never even seen the band Asia in concert although their songs escape me now and I wonder how this gentleman next to me is sleeping so soundly maybe it’s his headphones WHOOOMPSHAKE and he’s probably been to Asia which is why he is so calm and innocent and fulfilled DIPPITYDIPSHERK and he’s probably LISTENING to Asia and his last thoughts won’t be his own but the chorus of ‘HEAT OF THE MOMENT’ that’s the song I was trying to think of and now it will be my last thoughts as well!
We land, hard, and awkward, and I thank the checklist of gods, even Xenu, just for kicks, and disembark the plane .
Deodorant Level: -3 Timothy Dalton Bond. That’s, all I’ll say: Timothy. Dalton. Bond.
I get home, head straight for the shower, and rejuvenate my original Bond prowess.
Thief hands me a towel, and perhaps due to my slaphappy tiredness, now talks like Sean Connery.
“It’sch been a loong dahy, and yoo musht get yohr beauty schleep.” – Thief
“Thanks, Bud. Before I go to bed, you mind saying it for me, one more time?”
“Oooh I doon’t know.”
“Pretty please?” – Me
“Itsch bean a while…”
“Aw, c’mon! For old times’ sake!”
“…Mahrtini – Shaken, not shtirred.”
I dry off, and go to schleep. – Mike