Shortly after Nine Eleven, I visited North Carolina on business. While there, friends threw me a surprise birthday party at a local restaurant. Rest assured there’s nothing like camo-clad cake and party hats to get you seriously questioning your ability to pick friends.
My birthday booty included two gifts that filled me with wonder: an electronic deer hunting video game remotely resembling a plastic, cartoon-looking sawed-off rifle, and Judy… the life-sized blow-up doll.
The ridiculous hunting game I had seen advertised on television – I wondered who on Earth ended up with such things. Now, ironically, I had my answer. Judy simply made me wonder how fast I could ditch her without anyone noticing.
Party over, I abandoned Judy, quietly stashing her under a table. Although relieved, I did have second thoughts: Might I have quashed my one chance for the perfect mate? Where else would I find someone less needy, lower maintenance or indifferent to my excessive nights in the field?
The next day a partygoer from my table drove me to the airport. “Good luck,” he said, smiling suspiciously as he dropped me off.
Hating to wait for luggage, I decided to carry on my rollaboard. I breezed through the metal detector and waited for my luggage as it conveyed through the x-ray machine.
Suddenly, the security monitor motioned for assistance. Immediately, two burly meatheads with really short ties appeared. They pointed toward the monitor. “Oh no,” I gasped, “the hunting game!”
“Excuse me,” I said, “I think I know what the problem is. It’s a toy – a gag birthday gift. Here, look at my license, my birthday was yesterday.”
Another meathead appeared and grabbed my arm. “Sir, please be quiet and step over here. I’ll need your identification.” Instantly I found myself kissing a wall, getting frisked, and watching a dozen more storm troopers and three attack dogs make the scene.
Unmoved, the head meathead radioed someone higher up the food chain. I envisioned the Pentagon, CIA, or the mother ship taking the call. “Should we close the airport now?” he asked.
“Not just yet,” crackled a response.
“Not just yet? Oh Jesus,” I muttered, jaw dropping open. If only I’d stuck by Judy and ditched that asinine game. Only an idiot would take a toy gun through security.
Fearing prolonged cavity searches and night in jail, I kept quiet. Then, as the three-hundredth gawker stopped to admire my one car pile-up, boss meathead fished the cartoon “gun” from my luggage and held it high. On-lookers laughed, security personnel turned red and exited quietly, and someone shouted, “All this for that?”
Quite embarrassed but maintaining his authoritative scowl, el jefe’ meathead commanded sternly, “Sir, you must check your bag. Bring this item through security again and you’ll be arrested.”
“Well, obviously I am that stupid,” I replied, “but rest assured it won’t happen again.”
Back at the ticket counter, chief meathead watching from afar, I zipped opened my bag to stow my misfortune. “There is no way this day could get any worse,” I sighed.
Then, through socks and underwear, I noticed a pretty plastic face with yellow hair and bright red lips, staring upward, deep into my eyes.
You know, I thought, this day ain’t over yet.
Tripp Holmgrain is avid outdoorsman who prefers higher maintenance women. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.