My day began today at 0400 (that’s 4 a.m. for those of you with no military acquaintances), a rude reminder of the pleasures of air travel today. There was a time in my work life when I and most of my associates saw business travel as one of the perks of our jobs. Such is not the case today.
Post 9/11, air travel has become a personally demeaning, time-consuming irritant to be avoided when possible. The intrusion on one’s personal habits begins even before you leave your home as you plan your daily hygiene around the latest Transportation Security Administration directive, trading in your designer cologne & salon hair products for those you used in high school when you bought your toiletries at Walgreen’s. (Note to Calvin Klein & Ralph Lauren, you could make a bundle marketing travel size colognes.) Even my dogs are affected. Last year, TSA confiscated a $75 tube of a hard-to-get coat texturizer I had left in my carry-on bag. I know I could pack all prohibited items in my checked baggage, but after replacing two suits saturated by a broken bottle of Obsession, I’ve decided that Old Spice, in the travel size, fits a Terrier persona.
Next, you can select your travel wardrobe. After a lost bag 30 years ago forced me to attend an important business meeting dressed in jeans, my standard travel attire is a suit or sports coat & slacks, a decidedly TSA-unfriendly wardrobe. As an old, fat guy, my accessories include both a belt & suspenders, a virtual metal detector Happy Meal. I used to refuse to remove my suspenders, but after one particularly personal pat down (he never did call & offer to take me to dinner), I have decided to risk pants on the ground in order to avoid future close encounters. As a precaution I have taken to ironing my underwear before flying.
I recently saw a late night TV ad that featured grownups in comfortable-looking, one-piece fleece pajamas, complete with feet. You can even opt for one with bunny ears & a tail, a kind of Mr. Furley meets Harvey leisure suit designed by Big Sis. It could catch on. You are still not ready to head for the airport until you have packed your carry-on. Most men are accustomed to carrying almost everything they need in their pants & coat pockets. Today Janet Napolitano has accomplished what Gloria Steinem could not, making a man purse the de rigeur accessory for every male frequent flyer.
I used to stuff my pockets with a Day-Timer, wallet, money clip, keys, comb & a box of Tic Tacs. Today I opt for my man purse of choice, the messenger bag, large enough to be mistaken for a briefcase, but failing to contain even one sheet of paper. It does provide convenient stowage of all the previously pocketed possessions, as well as all the standard hi-tech blogging toys, including iPhone, iPad, Bluetooth keyboard & associated chargers. I even have room for all those travel size toiletries & a clean pair of socks. (You never know what you might step on in that security line.)
Now you are ready to leave your home at 0430 to catch that 0630 flight. Because TSA separates you from your cell phone in the security line, there are very few records of the TSA Striptease. TSA has replaced the “Dance of the Seven Veils” with the Foot Fetish Fandango. First, you empty all those pockets, exposing more change than the Trevi Fountain, while nervously wondering which of your credit/ID cards will still be resident in your wallet when you retrieve it. Then you remove your coat, scarf & no, you cannot leave your hat on. Next are the shoes, Florsheims & Jimmy Choos, for a metrosexual tootsie tantalizer. Finally, you shed the belts and the last protector of modesty, the suspenders. As you shuffle over to the full body scanner, holding on to your waistband, you try to remember exceptions to Newton’s Law of Gravity. Just when you think you have reached an agreement between Newton & your thighs, the smug TSA agent directs you to put your hands on top of your head and your feet in two different time zones.
Happily, today I benefited from the few extra pounds that the holidays had left behind, leaving my trousers snug enough to remain in place & my modesty intact. I can now head for my gate & my exciting destination. After all, it is Palm Springs weekend and our Best In Show Daily coming out party!