How can a dream wedding turn into a nightmare? Try a trip through airport security in a remote mountain region with a modern-day Frankenstein.
The wedding in September 2008 was lovely, with a marvelous mountainous backdrop at Glacier National Park in Montana, just south of the Canadian border. The bride’s bouquet, filled with colorful wildflowers, played up the delicately embroidered accents in her gown. The festive reception was delightful, with both families mingling sociably and the wine flowing freely.
Perhaps a bit too freely. Because of the ensuing adventure through airport security the day after the wedding, I learned to choose my traveling companions far more carefully. In addition, I now know that arriving at an airport (even in a low-traffic destination) two hours before a scheduled departure may not nearly be enough.
During this Wild West wedding, two years ago, a few members of the wedding party imbibed a bit excessively, despite the next day’s travel itineraries for our group. In fact, one of the groomsmen (whose name actually was Frank) took a terrible tumble during a turn on the dance floor, resulting in a late-night trip to the local emergency room and several heavy-duty staples across his forehead.
Frank’s outpatient medical procedure led to complications of an altogether unexpected sort — for the entire wedding party — in airport security the following day.
A half-dozen of us, all bridesmaids and groomsmen from the wedding (and former college chums), were traveling together from Montana to Minneapolis. From there, we would depart for our various home cities.
That night, we packed our carry-on bags with care, diligently following the 3-1-1- rule for our liquids and gels. Piling into a trio of rental cars, we drove to Glacier Park International Airport, in Kalispell, Mont.
After returning our convoy of leased vehicles at the airport, we printed our boarding passes, using the computer units by the Delta Airlines ticket counter. With 90 minutes to spare, we rolled our carry-on luggage toward the airport security check-in. The line was about 20 people deep, but it seemed to move fairly quickly.
That’s where the real trouble began, and it was positively alarming.
I shuffled into the passenger line, along with three other bridesmaids, and Frank stepped in behind us, still reeling a bit from his inebriated mishap. I tried not to stare at his two blackened eyes or the badly bruised and swollen wound on his head, as he pulled his brand-new cable-knit cap down over his eyebrows.
Approaching the Transportation Security Administration conveyor belts, I began to prepare for the inspection. I grabbed a plastic bin and stowed my purse, my cellular phone, my medical packet, my clear zippered plastic bag of cosmetics, my shoes, my belt and my wristwatch. I stepped up toward the metal detector unit.
Suddenly, I noticed that Frank had stepped ahead of me in the line. I turned and watched my personal belongings, moving into the x-ray machine. For a moment, I was surprised that my pre-filled medical syringes did not provoke any response from the TSA inspectors.
The alarm sounded, as Frank entered the metal detector unit. Two TSA agents instructed him to step back. Frank’s face turned red, as he lifted his shirt to look for his belt. He stepped into the arched machine again.
Again, the alarm echoed, despite the crowd noise in the small Montana airport terminal.
Finally, the TSA staffers took Frank aside for a private inspection, where they discovered that the 17 metal staples in his head were activating the metal detector.
We sprinted to the gate.
We were the last passengers aboard.
Since that tumultuous trip, I have flown again, with no measurable mishaps in airport security. But then, I have never traveled with Frankenstein again, or any of his cohorts, and I always arrive extra early at the airport.
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