featuring guest mystery authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Friday, March 30, 2012

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR JAYNE ORMEROD

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

28 comments:

Liz said...

Pre-9/11. Armored tanks all around the European airport, to protect civilians post Iraq invasion of Kuwait. Guys with machine guns, the norm. But tanks?

W. Lynn Chantale said...

You poor thing. Nothing quite that dramatic has happened, I hate flying and since I typically have to walk through the metal detector without my cane (visually impaired) I try to keep things as simple as possible. Slip on shoes, knit clothing with pockets, little to no liquids and ID in hand.

Now I can add no dickeys to the list.

Jane R said...

The TSA guys have a pretty tough job. I usually pack my jewelry, belt and miscellaneous clothing in my carry-on or purse and finish dressing after I go thro security. I get a few funny looks but it's so much easier!

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

I think Blogger is having a problem today. Misty Dietz tried to post the following comment:

"Jayne...Laughing my freaking BUTT OFF!!! LOVE IT! Sorry it sucked, but it made for a great story! Thanks for sharing the experience. Totally wanna read your book! :D "

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Karen Burns also had trouble posting. Here's her comment:


I loved the blog and understand exactly how Jayne felt. TSA is weird and inconsistent. This last Wednesday I went through security with a can of almonds, a large bag of Peanut M&M's, and bottles of hotel lotion in my carry on. I thought for sure I'd get stopped but nothing. For sure, flying is a hassle these days!

-Karen BMAL

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Liz, Tanks do seem like overkill (no pun intended) but on some sorty of wierd way it does make me feel safer. I mean, good luck Mr. Terrorist blowing by them!

Thanks for stopping by this morning.

Pat Dale said...

Funny, funny, but too true for comfort. With TSA agents, it's like with any other law enforcement folks. They have to maintain a neutral posture, but it is their personality that makes the difference. Makes me wonder, though. If a man has trousers with a metal zipper, does he have to take them off in the line? Hmm...
PD

Jayne Ormerod... said...

W. Lynn, Simple is better, in everything in life, but flying these days takes so much THOUGHT about every little item in the pockets and purse. I hear just yesterday somebody tried to board a plane with firecrackers in his backpack...he forgot they were in there! I might forget about nail clippers, but I think I'd remember about the firecrackers! :) Thanks for stopping by this morning.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Jane, Your plan makes perfect sense! Easy through screening and yet you still look fabulous on your journey. I suppose the same principle could be applied to footwear...slip ons through security then switch into stillettos once safely on the other side.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Misty, I share your blospot pain! But thanks for taking the extra effort to make your comment heard. Sadly, my life seems to be one "funny" (read totally embarassing) story after another, but it makes great fodder for books and blogs so I guess I am blessed. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy The Blond Leading the Blond!

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Another comment from someone having trouble posting today. (What's up with Blogger?) This from Donnell Bell:


...that blog was funny. Been there, but instead of nail clippers I carried on the deadly weapon of tweezers! In my current WIP, my protag is afraid of heights. Loved your guest’s background and motivation.

Donnell

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Karen, next time I fly I want to sit next to you so you can share your M&Ms! Another thing I noticed on my flight is they don't even give you a complimentary bag of peanuts any more. sigh. I guess my age is showing again...

Thanks to you for stopping by and to "Anastasia" for forwarding your comment.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Pat, I sure wish I'd been clear thinking enough to make that "zipper" argument. I agree, there couldn't have been that much more metal in my snaps than in their zippers.

Next think you know we'll all have to fly wearing sweat pants. What a far cry from the "Leave it to Beaver" days when Mrs. Cleaver wore a dress and pearls to cook dinner.


Thanks for stopping by this morning.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Donnell, TWEEZERS??? I didn't realize they were on the contriband list. Thank goodness you didn't end up spending the afternoon locked up in the TSA pokey! I can't imagine they are any more dangerous than a ball point pen...hmmm...I maybe shouldn't have said that or now we won't be able to fly with writing instruments.

Patricia said...

RARELY do I find any blog posts funny but this was hilarious and THANK YOU so much for that. It started out my Friday with a bang. And I've always loved the title of your book The Blonde Leading the Blonde. You are toooo funny.
Patti

Helen Ginger said...

I travel enough that I've gotten pretty good about it. Slip-on shoes, no belt if I can avoid it, jewelry in purse, no jackets or coats. My problem with pat-downs is that a lot of airports have male personnel primarily. One time I had to wait so long while they looked for a female that I was close to missing my flight before a male guard (or whatever they're called) came over and asked if I would mind if he did the pat-down, which I didn't since I've never had anyone pat me inappropriately. Not counting my husband.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Patti, ALWAYS great to have you stop by. I have to say I still love my dickeys, because they cover the waddle on my neck without adding excess padding around my middle. Pure fashion genius, IMHO, but not so good when flying. :)

Hope you continue to find things to laugh at all weekend!

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Oh, Helen, I really thought things were going to get a little too "interesting" for this blog, but I'm glad you didn't miss your flight. I found it interesting different levels of screening at different airports. My return trip wasn't anywhere near as interesting, but I was a little more prepared. Happy flying!

Ann Yost said...

Jayne -- that is hilarious! I share your fear of flying (totally justified as per your calculations) AND your fear of disrobing in public. And the dickey seemed like SUCH a good invention. I hope your trip was a good one, after all.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Ann, I've spoken to many pilots and even put my arm out the window while driving at 60 mph to show the effect of "lift" but I just don't get how a plane can fly. It does, though. But it was a great trip, thanks for asking.

jeff7salter said...

Jane, I'm rolling on the floor.
This reminds me of some of the best of Erma Bombeck, and she was absolutely tops.
Yes, enter me in the drawing, please.
LOL
salter8jeff[at]yahoo[dot]com

Patricia Winton said...

My strangest TSA moment happened at the Charlotte, NC airport. I was in line, carrying my unhandy plastic bag of liquids. A guard asked if anyone had hand lotion. My thought was, "Darn, I need that on an international flight because the air's so dry." I handed it over. She screwed off the lid and poured some out, then replaced the cap and handed it back. Without a thank you.

Gabriella Hewitt said...

Your description of what was under your jacket was absolutely hilarious. I laughed out loud. I have to admit, I'm not so keen on flying but I have not choice. I live in Japan and it's the only way to get home to see my family in the US. I find it very stressful getting on and getting off the planes. Your post reminds me that it's good to keep a sense of humor about it all.

I'll have to check out your books. I'm glad I stopped by.

Shelley Freydont said...

Get a titanium joint. I have a knee. You still have to take off your shoes but you get to go through one of those nifty sci fi beam me up, Scotty, machines which beats the "female assist" searches you get if the airport is too small to own a machine.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Jeff, Erma Bombeck was a classic! "If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, then What am I Doing in the Pits?" or "The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank." I read 'em all! Thanks indeed for that high praise.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Patricia, that is a very funny TSA story! I guess if the agents suffer from dry hands that proves they are human after all. :)

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Gabriella, I have to admit, flying is probably the ONLY viable option for trans-Pacific traveling. I guess your other option is a boat, but that would probably take a while. And they have screeners, too, I understand, so the no-dickey advice applies there as well. Safe travels, my friend!

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Shelley, If I find I have to start flying a lot, I'll definately look into getting a titanium joint. Thanks for the tip! This is another one of those things they don't tell you on the TSA advice to travelers sheet. Actually, I think you just gave me a new idea for a book! A whole lot of ways to avoid a pat down. Hmmmmm.....