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Not my privates you don’t

It’s 2004, and the day has dawned sunny and bright, giving me hope for my travels.

It’s my first trip abroad in 30 years. My driver drops me at the terminal in good time, leaving me two hours to get through security — maybe even time to loll in the café, sip coffee and obsess over my itinerary to Spain. I finger my boarding pass and peek at my ticket. Detroit to Madrid. Ten hours. I’m happy I brought my flight pillow and two bestsellers.

​Finally, my turn comes to put my jacket, carry-on, shoes and purse in the bucket and let them slide down the conveyer belt. Two men on either side of the screening booth look like the narcotics squad from “Law and Order.” ​I think, what can they do to a silver-haired lady?

“Step over here, lady,” the meaner looking officer says, motioning me into a large X-ray machine.

I enter the scanning booth and the warning bell goes off. I look around to see what has caused it. The two men also try to determine what caused the forbidden alarm.

​I look down. The shirt I’m wearing is a cute beige fashion T-shirt, given to me by my friend, Nancy, for the trip. I feel pretty sexy in it, but now, to my dismay, I see the neckline of my shirt is covered with gun metal studs.

​“Wow, I am so sorry, sir!” I say to the less threatening security guard. “I believe my shirt has set off the alarm. It has metal décor on it.”

​Both men stare at me. One of them turns to a guard at the next booth and asks, “Hey, can you see what set off the bell?” The third guard looks around at me and the people behind me.

​“Nope. Ya’ got me,” he says, and turns back to the people in his aisle.

​“Excuse me, I said, “if you will notice, I have metal buttons on my shirt, I believe they might be causing the alarm. Since I can’t take the shirt off here, can you suggest a solution?”

​The scary guard begins to rummage through my belongings that have already passed through the scanners.

The other guard says, “Lift your arms, ma’am. Keep them up.”

He proceeds to pat his hands up and down my body.  Passengers around me look on with sympathy, but they were not about to intercede. Feeling uncomfortable with this violation, I begin to panic. Having heard scary stories about TSA, I had promised myself I would be a little lamb and not be difficult. But now, the lioness emerges, and, as these two goons continue to rummage deeper into my luggage and pat harder in the wrong places, I lose it.

​“The problem, gentlemen,” I shout, with venom in my voice, “is my f–king shirt!”

The two men bolt upright as if they’d been shot in the rear with buckshot. Worse than that, they look as if they are delighted to collar a real perpetrator.

“OK, lady, step way over here!” the scary one says, guiding me further from my belongings and escape.

“Stand here and don’t move,” says the other. “Keep your hands out in the open. Don’t say another word.”

​Just as think I might be detained in a dark room with no food or water, another security guard steps up.  He looks over the situation thoughtfully. Then I hear him whisper to my two captors, “Guys, I think it might be her shirt.”

​After staring me down for a few seconds, the nicer guard, looking down at the floor, says, “You can go, Ma’am.  But don’t fly with that shirt again.”

“No problem,” I say, as I gather my things. “I wouldn’t want to meet up with you two again anyway.”

That brings a scowl from Mr. Meany, and when it looks like he might detain me again, I run like hell.

​— Kaye Curren

Kaye Curren has returned to writing after 30 years of raising two husbands, two children, two teenage stepchildren, three horses, umpteen dogs and cats, and several non-speaking parakeets. She used to write computer manuals but now writes humor essays and memoir, including two other blog posts on this site, Find her musings on her website/blog at

Reflections of Erma