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In a Sow’s Ear

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Will Rogers Writers Workshop in Oklahoma City, Okla. To get from Montana to Oklahoma meant selecting a mode of travel ” plane, automobile, horse, or shank’s mare. Since walking is a skill that has been severely abridged in my dotage years, a horse might not get there till Christmas, and driving a car would require two days going and two days returning, the logical choice was to book a flight on a plane. Groan.

Into the air Junior Birdman … We’ve all heard that tune. Remember the old radio show “Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy?” If memory serves, it was endorsed by some flaky cereal of the pre-sugar-coated days ” possibly the Wheaties brand.

Into the air, Junior Birdman

Into the air, Birdman true

Into the air, Junior Birdman

Keep your nose up in the blue

And when you hear that great announcement

That you’ve won your wings of tin

Then you will know you’re Junior Birdman

Cuz you’ve sent your box tops in

You may remember somewhat different words, but the attitude was the same. It was a ditty that every Girl Scout and Boy Scout could screech with gusto while peering through eyeholes made by circling the thumb and first finger of each hand.

I believe I’ll start a petition to have the tune played over speakers in all the security check points in airports. It’ll give me something to hum while going through the terrorist search ritual.

Free Traveling Advice: You will have to disrobe, so wear loose clothing, easy-on/off boots and clean, hole-free socks. Padding around in holey socks in front of strangers could be embarrassing. If you have any metal implants, you will be put in a cage as a suspected terrorist. You might as well throw away that note from your Doctor. The attendant will just smile and guide you into the cage.

My phony knee always sets off the beeper. As does a metal buckle on my hat. As does the metal snap on my jeans. I can take the hat off, but not the knee (and I absolutely refuse to drop my jeans), so there I go into the glass cage where I stand making snow angels in the air while a woman with a wand (and this is not a fairy wand) waves it up and down my torso, skims the backs and fronts of my lower extremities, flutters it over and under my arms … she’s very thorough, but wand-waving is not the end of the procedure. No, I must be patted down. She feels my knee, she strokes the waistband where I wear a possibly explosive metal snap. Then she runs off with my hat and passes it through the X-ray tunnel.

I asked the wand-wielder if I could have a John Wayne look-alike do the patting part of the job. She paused for about 15 seconds as if pondering the idea and then somberly said she didn’t think that would work. (I surmise a dedicated and proper terrorist would not make wisecracks. Terrorist work is likely a grave occupation).

On the return trip from Oklahoma, I fantasized about pulling a phony fainting spell, but decided that would only delay my getting home. So I kept my mouth shut and tried to enjoy the wanding and patting.

As for the Will Rogers Writers Conference, it was a truly gratifying experience. I had the pleasure of visiting the Cowboy Hall of Fame, something I’ve always had a yen to see. So I suppose the ceremonial search of a country woman with false teeth, flat feet, a phony knee, no gall bladder and a lens implant in each eye was worth it.

However, I do think John Wayne look-alikes should be employed for the patting procedure. We older women terrorists would be truly grateful.


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