Thursday, August 10, 2006

farewell, my lovely toothpaste, farewell

Like my favorite pink Canadian Wake-Up tablets, my travel toothpaste has French packaging: French ingredients, French manufacturing information, French promises. Minty fresh French breath. Approved by French-speaking dentists. It's undeniable: my teeth feel cleaner when they're brushed with French-language Colgate. Best of all, it tastes just like regular Colgate toothpaste: exotic packaging, same old familiar taste. What more could I ask for?

The ability to take it back home with me.

That's right. Again I've gotten caught in the middle of a trip when the notorious terror threat alert level has changed colors, gotten warmer -- when the terror-o-meter shows signs that we're registering a collective fever. The fever is so high that we're hallucinating evil at every turn: at the bottom of every Venti Starbucks; in every travel-size bottle of Alzheimer-inducing Ban Roll-On; in shiny-hip containers of Cat Fight Hair Gel. The threat is in the liquids this time, and we're taking the whole thing pretty literally.

But isn't this just the time you'd need a little hip flask of Maker's Mark? A nip to take the edge off the nervousness? A short swig to keep the boredom and irritation in check.

And you don't want your hair to be less than CNN-ready when a trip to the airport is apt to be a media event. You're going to want to keep that bedhead looking ready for the cameras.

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

At the risk of sounding treasonous (or even just incautious), are we over-reacting? Yes, I know this has been reported as a close call, and certainly I'm grateful the suspects were apprehended in time and that TSA officials have become super-extra-hyper-vigilant. But I wonder if all this dehydration works. These guys weren't apprehended at an airport; they weren't snagged by TSA workers plowing through their overstuffed carry-ons, wanding their underwire bras.

At the hotel breakfast buffet, I watched my fellow travelers load up as if it were their last meal. Cling peaches in heavy syrup. Jimmy Dean sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches. Bathtub-sized bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Stacks of fresh waffles lubricated with whipped cream. Stale blueberry Danishes and cherry popovers. They were packing it in, chowing down in twosomes and foursomes, studying MSNBC on the TV across the room as if they would be quizzed later.

I could hear them nervously conferring among themselves. "How early should we get there? I heard five hours." The focus is on logistics, but I can bet they're thinking, "Wonder if they got all of 'em? Maybe I should just stay here, move to Seattle, use this as an opportunity to settle in." And I'm afraid that some of them were crediting this administration for their hypothetical rescue.

"Oh, sure, it's a pain. But we have to do what we have to do," one hearty fellow traveler tells me as I doctor my coffee with a diverted milk container (avoiding the Irish Cream Coffee Mate) and mumble about going home without my beloved French toothpaste and my perfectly innocent contact lens solution.

It's funny how we sometimes surrender without a thought. A thought about the implications. A thought about the effectiveness of the procedure.

On the other hand, is that a bottle of Axe Deodorant Body Spray I see in the overflowing garbage can?


Anonymous cathy said...

I know! that was horrible. Don't they know that terrorists need to brush their teeth too?

Well I guess I'm just not that 'alert' as a mellow Hong Konger... but I have to say even the terrorist weren't killing people (yet) they have already dragged down the whole airport logistic. Which economically is still quite damaging...

smart a**...

1:05 AM  
Blogger Susie said...

I definitely sympathise with your toothpaste loss, although I don't know if having French fresh breath is a good thing. On the other hand, maybe they have to make their Colgate extra-strong to mask the odor of stinky cheeses. Something to ponder, anyway.

Oh, and one of the other interns here goes to the school where your brother teaches. Small world, no?

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Jenna Schrock said...

Did you also learn the French language because of that toothpaste? Hehe... My condolences are also with you. So... What toothpaste are you using right now?

1:18 PM  

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