Jayne Ormerod writes what she knows—small towns (influenced by her childhood growing up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio) and beach settings (a result of 28 years as a navy spouse, always living within a flip-flop’s throw of the ocean.) Thanks to a youth spent reading Nancy Drew and an adulthood devouring the words of Janet Evanovich, she can now write about amateur sleuths, wacky escapades and dead bodies with a modicum of authority. Her first cozy mystery, The Blond Leading the Blond, was released in October, 2011. Learn more about Jayne by visiting her website or blog.
Jayne has graciously offered a copy of The Blond Leading the Blond to one of our readers who posts a comment. And a warning to all, be sure you’re not drinking coffee or anything while reading this guest post. I was and nearly sprayed my keyboard and monitor! -- AP
You’re Never Too Old to Stop Learning
By Jayne Ormerod
You may think it odd when I tell you I haven’t flown since the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Actually, I haven’t flown since well before then, and only because a short notice event (a funeral) prevented me from making the journey via what experts consider the less safe (but it keeps for wheels on the ground) option, my SUV. It’s not that I have allowed terrorists to frame my fear, but that I have developed my own fear based on experimentations with gravity conducted as a child. I pretended to be a graceful red Cardinal and took flight out of a tree—and promptly landed in a painful heap on the cold, rocky ground. This attempt at flying necessitated a trip to the ER, which meant I couldn’t attend my best friend’s birthday party that afternoon. (I was more upset about missing the pony rides than having to wear a cast for six weeks, but I digress.) My point is if a little, lithe me couldn’t maintain a state of airborne-ness for more than two seconds, how can a behemoth piece of metal carrying a hundred people be able to soar at 34,000 feet without crashing to the ground?
But alas, writers must travel. Often long distances, and sometimes on short notice. A few weeks ago I found myself needing to get from Point A to Point B, which was 600 miles away, in the most expedient manner. Only now my fears were compounded by tales of aggressive and frightful TSA screenings accompanied by threats of TSA jail if I did not conduct myself in a strict and regimented manner like that portrayed in “The Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld. But needs must, so I booked a ticket.
At the airport, I piled my traveling belongings into gray tubs and avoided making eye contact or chatting up the screeners, as instructed by my husband and son, world travelers both. Thus I was surprised when a TSA agent spoke to me.
“Your jacket,” she said.
“Coldwater Creek,” I answered, looking down and once again praising my choice in selecting the sage-green velvet jacket with big showy snaps down the front. I was quite proud that I found something that could be paired with a cute pair of shoes that I could slip on and off easily, thus avoiding complications with both TSA and TFP (The Fashion Police.)
The stern-faced TSA spoke again. “You have to take your jacket off and put it in the bin.” She nodded towards the gray bin in my hands. “The snaps, they’re metal…”
That was all it took for me to hit my internal panic button. I dropped the bin, reached into my purse, fished around for a second, then yelled in a tone of voice one usually reserved for announcing a fire in a crowded theater, “Oh my god! I left my wallet at the Pizza Hut Counter!” Thus my actions of grabbing all my traveling belongings and shoving my way back through the line of passengers seemed to be warranted.
It’s not that I suddenly freaked at the thought of flying in an airplane. Nor had I suddenly freaked out at witnessing the elderly lady in front of me being hauled away because they’d found nail clippers in the pocket of her carryon. My freak out was because there was no way in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks I was going to remove my clothes anyplace but in the privacy of my own bedroom. For you see, underneath my stylin’ jacket I had only a turtleneck…or what appeared from the neck up to be a turtleneck, but was merely the collar of a sweater in what’s known in women’s fashions as a Dickey. And if I took my jacket off, I had nothing underneath but a two-sizes too-small bra with yellow sweat stains and nothing to hide my muffin-top of skin that oozed over my tight corduroys and glowed like a fluorescent Martian.
I raced in the direction of the Pizza Hut counter and ducked into the nearest restroom where I locked myself in the back stall. With shaking fingers, I unzipped my overnight case and dug around for an alternative outfit. Something with nary a metal snap, button or zipper. I had two choices, my sleek, satin nightie or my ratty, tattered, torn and stained, but comfy and comforting sweatshirt. My writing sweatshirt. The one I put on when I snuggle up with my laptop at 3 a.m. (it’s a menopause thing) and kill people (that’s not a menopause thing, but a mystery writer thing) in my latest work in progress.
I obviously opted for the sweatshirt. And after having removed my nail clippers from my purse and tossing them into the trash bin (thank goodness I remembered they were in there), I once again headed for the gate. Only this time I had lost my Sophisticated Traveler swagger and now felt more like someone heading out to 7-11 at midnight to buy a bag of Nacho Doritos. Fingers crossed I would make it through the screening process without further incident.
As luck would have it, I ended up in the same line as the stern-faced TSA agent as before. Only this time, she nodded at me and cracked the barest hint of a smile.
It was then I realized the saying printed in sassy red letters on the front of my writing sweatshirt isn’t the best thing to be wearing when being scrutinized by no-nonsense people looking for hijackers attempting to sneak weapons onboard a plane.
You see, my favorite writing sweatshirt says, “You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word. ~ Al Capone”
So even at my advanced age, I learned two things that trip. First, never, ever wear a dickey under a snap-front jacket when going through a metal detector at airport screening, and some TSA agents do have a sense of humor.
Now that had to be one of the funniest guest posts we've had! Thanks for visiting with us today, Jayne. Readers, what did you think? Have any TSA stories to tell? Post a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Blond Leading the Blond. -- AP