“Could you come over here, please, Miss?” There is a certain amount of vain delight that goes along with being called “Miss” at my age, especially since I’ve been married twice, given birth three times, lived at 36 different addresses since the day I arrived on the planet, and have a child who has been able to vote for almost a decade-and-a-half. What’s more, I remember the dawn of the 8-track tape. There came a point when I began to feel less like a “Miss” and more like a “Venerable Mrs.,” and the use of that sweeter, four-letter word was a kind reminder of the days when my attention revolved around Cutex nail polish and jumbo lip smackers.
What a shame the word was coming out of the lips of an airport security officer.
What on Earth had I packed in to that purse?
I generally travel with my Swiss Army Knife (love that thing!) but I knew I had plunked it safely into my cosmetics bag prior to leaving the hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, what seemed like a hundred hours earlier. I’ve been known to pop a half-empty water bottle into my purse and then promptly forget about it until I line up for Security. I knew that wasn’t the case this time. And I’m a writer, for pity’s sake! There were no arrows, avalanche packs or Molotov cocktails in my purse. No bleach, hatchets or letter openers.
I grabbed my shoes, belt, laptop bag, jacket, passport, boarding pass, neck pillow and book, and willingly staggered over to the side of the conveyor belt where the nice lady was waiting.
“We’ve found an object of interest in your purse, Miss, may I look in here, please?” the security officer asked politely. There was that word, again!
“Of course,” I said. Does anybody actually ever say “No!” to that question? By now I was in a state of avid curiosity to see what I was carrying from Los Angeles to Toronto that had not triggered alarm bells so many hours earlier during the security scan preceding my flight from Auckland to LA.
The hunt began.
The officer rummaged around in my purse, ignoring the collection of items that lay jumbled together in the frazzled container of my travelling priorities, until she found the little pink bag that I sometimes refer to as my “pencil case.” It holds all the important stuff – my cell phone charger, my turbo stik, a spare battery for my wireless mouse, a small pad of sticky notes, a USB flash drive, an emery board, a tiny bottle of Oscar de la Renta perfume and four lipsticks.
She drew a pointed gold container out of the little bag and looked at me a little severely. “What is this, Ma’am?” Oh. NOW I was a “Ma’am!”
“It’s a lipstick,” I said. There was no advantage in informing her that it was a Christian Louboutin Bengali Velvet Matte lipstick that retails for well more than $100. It had been a gift from my oldest daughter, an incredible luxury that I absolutely love. I reverently lifted the glorious gold cap and showed her the stunning shade of bright pink that swiveled up when I twisted the neck of the container. She nodded curtly, thanked me, and went on to the next potential breaker of airport security regulations.
I stood in my sock feet with the hum of 100,000 travellers swirling importantly around me, and I took a moment to soak it all in. I was living what my friend Laura Gisborne refers to as a “limitless life.” I had had a phenomenal trip. I had met some extraordinary people who I was tickled to now include in my community of friends. There were no doubt going to be more wonderful adventures in my future. I applied my lipstick, put my shoes back on and smiled.
And I was going home.
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