I know there is a law in the U.S., has been for a while, that makes it illegal to attempt to engage in humor when going through the security X-ray at an airport. People always say “whatever you do — don’t try to be funny. You could end up in jail — or worse.”

Even so, this morning I took my life in my hands. On my way to board a flight at J.F.K. airport, there I was, about to walk through the X-ray body scanner, the one place where everyone works very hard to avoid the unexpected, when I was startled to see the woman in line in front of me start to walk through the X-ray machine holding a cat.

The guard told her she couldn’t take the cat through with her — she needed to run it through the baggage scanner. Don’t laugh — having watched Monty Python, I am well acquainted of the dangers posed by exploding cats.

I realize that this would have been a very good moment to remain silent, but there are forces that move deep within our souls, forces that are more powerful, more primal in their pull, than such mere niceties as self-preservation.

And so I went for it. Looking the guard straight in the eye, I asked him “Doing CAT scans today?”

For a moment he just stared at me, the wheels in his head seeming to turn. Then his face broke out in a broad grin, and he burst out laughing.

Today, it seems, would not the day my government puts me in jail for inappropriate humor.

5 Responses to “Inappropriate”

  1. Sharon says:

    Yes, I can see how that would have been too hard to resist! Too funny!

    I wish my experience with TSA at JFK today had been nearly so entertaining. They insisted that something that was not a liquid or a gel or a cream was still in the same category and we ended up having to go back out, buy a bag to check the things (food items), and then go back through security. The woman who pulled us aside for this definitely did not look in the mood for jokes.

  2. admin says:

    Wow, that’s terrible! I had a grapefruit in my bag on this flight and had completely forgotten about it — until I arrived at my destination after the flight, and had a yummy grapefruit to eat. It all seems so arbitrary.

    Sometimes I wonder whether this is just an elaborate form of theatre. I mean, if they already see the food, then making you buy a plastic bag for it is not going to decrease the chances that you are actually bringing on board exploding food.

    If you see what I mean.

  3. sharon says:

    The items that they didn’t like were jars of Belgian chocolate spreads that we had bought as gifts. So it was more borderline than a grapefruit but clearly not explosive —if anything, chocolate is more of a drug than a weapon :-). I guess I should have played it safe and put it in the checked luggage but I was concerned about the jars breaking. The TSA agent admitted that she knew it was food, but still said that it was not coming through security. Oh well. It all worked out in end.

    Hope you have a good trip!

  4. sally says:

    I’m glad the “Cat” didn’t get your tongue…

  5. dacosta says:

    The TSA person’s request was actually quite horrible. I believe you should not put pets through the x-ray scanner, they are to be held with you through the metal detector. The dose of radiation in the airport x-ray scanner isn’t safe for anything living, I expect.

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