"Do you have anything in your pockets, ma'am? Keys, maybe?"
Crap, my keys! I pulled them out of my pocket, put them in a bowl and sent them through the xray. The TSA man told me to back up and step through the metal detector again.
"Are you wearing a belt, ma'am?"
I lifted my shirt, showing that I had already removed my belt. No, no belt.
"Anything else in your pockets?"
I showed him my Dr. Pepper lipsmacker. That was all I had on me.
"Back up, walk through again."
The TSA man sighed and motioned for me to go through again. He looked weary and I was beginning to feel bad for him. I walked through the arch.
He looked at me incredulously. "Are you sure you don't have anything else on you?"
Oh, damn. I'm going to have to confess.
"I, umm...I wear a prosthetic leg." I admitted, smiling sheepishly, hoping he'd take pity on me.
But no - he sent me to a little glass booth for inspection. The woman inside instructed me to sit in a chair. I sat. She said some words to me as she adjusted her rubber gloves. I blinked at her.
"Have you ever been through this before?" she asked.
I shook my head - I hadn't flown since before 9/11.
She picked up her wand. "Please hold up your legs, one at a time." She scanned my legs (to see which was which, I guess) and then told me to stand on a mat with my legs spread and my arms out, palms up. I assumed the position...
...and promptly welled up with tears. I cry whenever I have any intense emotion and at that precise moment I was feeling quite pissed and more than slightly humiliated. The TSA woman ran her wand up and down each limb and across the front and back of my torso, identifying each beep as they occurred. Beep. "That's the rivets on your jeans." Beep. "That's the hooks of your bra." Beep. "That's the underwire of your bra." Beep. "That's..."
I stared straight ahead and tried to think happy thoughts.
The woman set her wand down and informed that she was going to pat me down. "Palms up," she reminded me.
A few moments later, after she made entirely sure that I had nothing else hidden anywhere (and I mean anywhere) on my person, she told me to take a seat. I must have had an ominous look on my face because her voice took on a gentle tone as she told me that she was going to swab me.
I pulled up the leg of my pants and she stroked what looked like a small coffee filter over my prosthesis. She set that aside and told me to hold out my hands so she could test them too. She then went off somewhere with her swabs. For testing, I suppose. I sighed audibly and suddenly remembered that I had just been handling my pistol before I came to the airport. "I'm doomed, " I thought. "I'm never getting on that plane."
But just then TSA lady returned and declared me fit for travel. I had passed inspection.
I got to my gate just in time for boarding and watched out the window as the plane thrust itself into the sky. The green disappeared beneath me and I was on my way - the desert only a few hours away.