When traveling these days the next best thing to not rushing into the street in Sadr City and yelling “Mohammed was a gay alcoholic with a Jewish grandmother,” is to not advertise your citizenship as American. We can thank George Bush for that. On my recent travels I was surprised at how genial people in South Africa and Australia just avoided the painful subject of Arrogant George and his fiasco in Iraq. Rather than people asking where I was from, or how things were back in the USA, they would substitute subjects like “Well, how about that bloody business of de-classifying Pluto as a planet?”
George must know that he has pissed off most of the world. When he dropped in on Indonesia recently, he was afraid to stay more than six hours, whisked from plane to palace while the American press dutifully avoided the raging demonstrations against him in the streets. He is scheduled to meet with Iraqi PM Malaki in Jordan, not Iraq , because it’s too dangerous for him to go to the place that is so happy to have American troops as guests for several years (too dangerous for chickenhawks, but apparently not for real soldiers). And the Great Deferer, Mr. Cheney is “scheduled” to make a visit to the Green Zone—sometime, but no one will say when, or for how long, or if he will be disguised as another fake Thanksgiving turkey. He’s even afraid of Iraqi quail. Maybe they’ll just say he was there. It will be a new form of American travel. Why have the TSA people take away your water bottle and make you remove your shoes. Buy a National Geographic DVD and then just say you were there.
A True, and Embarrassing Parable
Speaking of safe travel I can now recommend that you always wear underpants when traveling (they’re recommended, but optional at other times.) I have the following personal incident tobutt ress (get the pun?) that point. Passing through Security at the Sydney Airport earlier this month I was having my carry-on bag searched by a security official who was also asking me how much I liked my Macintosh PowerBook. Another official came up and asked if he could do a body frisk on me and if I would outstretch my hands. “Yes, I said, and told the other official that he should definitely join the Macintosh family, “perhaps with a new dual core processor MacBook Pro.” Silly me, maybe the question about the computer was really part of the security drill. Maybe the next question would be “is it true that the new MacBook has ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics with 256MB SDRAM?” Anyway, quicker than you could say “fair dinkum” my pants were down around my ankles. There were gasps, giggles, an outright guffaw from me, and a profuse apology from the security official kneeling in front of me. I figured he must a Windows-based computer user, or suspicious that I would go to extremes to smuggle a water bottle aboard the plane.
I don’t pray, but I was close to thanking any and all deities that I had selected my black boxers with the snug elastic waist band that day, because in my haste in the men’s room I had not tied a secure bow in the waist of my travel pants. (The boxers with the large smiley face on the front unfortunately have a very stretched waist band.) We were all having a good laugh —except the guy who pulled my pants down and was now fearing for his job and a reputation as a priest or a Florida congressman. “Is this a new security procedure for everybody, or are you just looking for the Al Qaeda terrorist who has only one testicle?” I asked. (BTW: all these security officials were wearing rubber surgical gloves.) You can chance that with Aussies, who love a joke more than anybody. In the US I would still be in some back room at the airport and my pants would still be being examined for possible camel hairs or microscopic bits of falafel.
I don’t suppose that Georgie Boy, or The Dick have to go through such security procedures. Everybody knows who they are (and what they are). And everybody knows that if their pants got yanked down there’s no chance of exposing any testicles.
©2006, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 11.25.2006)