Airport travel has become very stressful. You have to plan your outfit to fit into security guidelines — and this is coming from a person who wears a Billy Joel concert T-shirt and extra large yoga pants almost every day. (Full disclosure — I don’t actually do yoga, I just find the pants very comfortable.) And when you buy them online from Old Navy, they are also very reasonable.
In any case, for someone who is sensitive of her “bat wings” — that’s what we middle-aged flabby ladies like to call our upper arms — if we are going to wear a tank top, we are going to be wearing a sweater or jacket to cover the arm situation. Nobody needs to be seeing any of that floppiness, unless, of course, you are comfortable with that, and then more power to you, sister!
Well, any of you who have gone through security know that chances are, they will make you take off the jacket. I often plead with the TSA guy, but that usually ends up with a pat-down from a female agent who keeps asking me if I am hiding anything under my shirt and so I have to say, “No ma’am, that is just 40-some-odd years of Entenmann’s consumption.” She never finds it funny, but I always make myself laugh.
To continue with my tale. I went to Chicago to pay a shiva call. And before I went back to the airport, my friend took me to Romanian Deli, home of the cheapest deli sandwiches around. I am talking approximately FIVE DOLLARS for a sandwich. No, I am not lying. They also have amazing chopped liver. A little more than a pound cost less than six dollars. It is almost worth it to move to Chicago. I knew that the liver would make my dad happy, and I have traveled with it before, so the purchase was made and to the airport we went.
I arrived at security all prepared to take my sweater off, to take my sneakers off, and to be patted down by an agent and have to justify my stomach. The computer comes out of its case and into the plastic box, and in next to it go my carry-on, my phone, my boarding pass, and assorted other items that I was traveling with. The container of chopped liver and the corned beef sandwich were safe and sound in my carry-on. I go through that spinny security thing with my feet planted on the footprints and my hands in the air. Secretly, I always hope that this machine will turn me into Wonder Woman, but it never does.
As I go to gather my belongings, one of the agents pulls me aside and says he has to go through my carry-on.
Not knowing where this is going, I just smile. He looks in my bag and takes out the chopped liver. “Ma’am, is this peanut butter?” “No, sir,” I nervously reply. “It’s chopped liver, I am bringing it back for my dad, who hasn’t been well.” “Ma’am, is this anything like peanut butter?” “Um, no sir, it is chopped liver. I have traveled with it before.” “Ma’am, I am sorry, but this looks like peanut butter and it is more than three ounces, so you will either have to check it, or throw it away.”
The thought of spending $25 to check a $5 container of chopped liver wasn’t so appealing and there was no way I was throwing it out, so I asked to speak with his supervisor. The supervisor informed me that yes, chopped liver is like peanut butter, and I can travel with it in a bag or on a piece of bread but not in a container. I told her I would put it on a piece of bread (you can’t make this up) and she told me I would need to go back through security and start all over again.
So visualize a large woman dumping a container of chopped liver onto a piece of bread (from the corned beef sandwich, poor thing didn’t know what hit it), rewrapping it, putting it back in her carry-on, and then starting the process again. Out comes the computer, the phone, the change, off goes the jacket, off go the shoes, and the TSA guy looks at me and says, “Hey, didn’t you just go through security?” Yes, genius, you tried to confiscate my chopped liver (no, I didn’t say that out loud, and fortunately, they cannot read your thoughts when you go through the spinny thing).
I get patted down again, had to explain my extra weight gain again, put all of my stuff back in the carry-on. Open up the sandwich, dump the liver back into the container, apologize to the corned beef for destroying its sanctity, and then have a nice man hand me a napkin as he watches me make a mess all over the place with the chopped liver.
And after all of that, my dad really enjoyed the chopped liver in question, so it was totally worth it.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is very excited about her new home at the Jewish Standard, a paper she grew up reading. She is the mother of son #1, son #2, and son #3, and the wife of husband #1. (She calls him that because, well, you just never know….)