So here we are.
When we travel by air in our brave new world, we are subjected to all sorts of personal invasion. There is the handing over of photo I.D.s, the stripping off of footwear and much of our clothing, and of course, those wacky body scanners that send our sorta-naked visages to a tiny room in the back of the security area, where there’s undoubtedly more pointing and laughing than there is the thwarting of potentially dastardly deeds.
Recently, however, it’s been announced that these strip-machines will soon be taken out of commission, and while we are all happy to know that these involuntary I’ll-show-you-mines will eventually be a thing of the past, there is still one little invasion that is more revealing than any of the other personal indignities of flying: the quart bag.
Indeed, it is that ziplocked collection of tiny liquids and gels, three ounces or less, that instantly tells you more about a person’s character, habits, and general intentions than anything else. Clear plastic bags are see-thru in more ways than one.
I have become much more aware of the quart bag’s power during a recent weeklong trip to a frigid city at the height of cold and flu season. The climate and destination meant hand cream, nasal spray, extra moisturizer, and not one, but two tiny Purell bottles. (Hey! That lady is a type-A germaphobe with sensitive skin!)
A weeklong trip, as opposed to a weekend trip, means cramming the 3 oz bottle of mouthwash in there as opposed to the more manageable 1 oz bottle along with the toothpaste. (She’s either serious about her dental hygiene or really loves minty breath!) It also means bringing several hairstyling products and/or dry shampoo spray. (She actually puts effort into that hairdo?)
Add to that the menagerie of minuscule deluxe samples of high-end eye serum, eye cream, face serum, sunscreen, night cream, body lotion, toner, pH-balanced face wash, retinol cream, lip gloss, eye makeup remover and perfume. (Yipe... imagine her without all that crap on her face!)
And then there’s deodorant, the kind with a consistency that is not quite liquid or gel, but not solid either. To quart bag or not to quart bag? And while we’re on the subject, what of Freshen Up gum, with its minty, oozing liquid centers? Or Silly Putty, the “Real Solid Liquid?” Do they belong in a quart bag? And if so, and they’re in your quart bag, what does that say about you?
In any case, my quart bag was stuffed to the gills, groaning and angry with me as I just barely zipped it shut. Even the TSA agent who spotted it raised an eyebrow and said, you sure have it all in there, don’t you? To which I replied, I need all the ounces I can get. I should have been embarrassed by my bulging Hefty bag (a brand, by the way, that more than lives up to its name), but I was just relieved that the deodorant I’d left in the carry-on wasn’t considered a liquid.
If you don’t believe me about the revealing powers of the quart bag, I make my final case with this story: Several years ago, I was in the security line at the Burbank Airport, and I spotted a very well-dressed man in his late twenties, sporting sunglasses and a buttery leather jacket, cool as Kanye. His quart bag contained only one item: a half-filled bottle of cologne.
And that says it all, doesn’t it?
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.