Watch 'n Wait: I sooo hope you are right. In the meanwhile:
Lady Brownsville-Fox was a large and imposing woman. She could not fairly be described as fat, but was just plump enough to be sensitive about her weight. She was often on whatever diet fancied her at the moment. Of course none of them lasted for more than two or three days, but she always felt better for having made an effort. Recognizing she was not beautiful, she dressed fashionably in expensive clothing, attended carefully to her hair and jewelry, and used makeup intelligently to emphasize her complexion, by far her best asset. If one were called upon to describe Lady Brownsville-Fox in a single word it would have to be as “dignified.” Dignity was the most outstanding feature of her personality and was immediately recognized by all. She was one of those British ladies who would much prefer to die than give up her dignity. Paradoxically, she professed to like best those individuals who were honest about their vices. She did not apply this standard to herself.
Lady Brownsville-Fox had a secret vice, a passion for liverwurst. When desire overcame her she went secretly to a Jewish Delicatessen and ordered a liverwurst sandwich. She pretended it was for her husband and her personal distaste was communicated by holding the package at arm’s length until she left the Deli. Of course she always consumed her sandwich in private, as it certainly would not do to allow anyone to see her eating such a questionable “lower-class” delicacy. Similarly, while she had been carrying half a liverwurst sandwich in her purse for part of the morning, she realized she would have to dispose of it before boarding the plane. Furtively, with regret, she took a huge bite out of the very center and casually tossed the remainder into a convenient garbage disposal before taking a seat in the waiting area.
Lady Brownsville-Fox was returning to London after visiting her mother in Miami. After her father died, her mother had rather startlingly, in fact, shockingly, remarried too quickly to be entirely respectable. Not only that, she married a handsome but decaying American that, in his retirement, was little more than an expensive beach bum. After several years Lady Brownsville-Fox barely recognized her mother, now burned dark by much too much sun and wrinkled like a raisin. She thought her mother was completely, as they say, “dotty.” Nonetheless she felt duty bound to visit occasionally even though she did not like the United States, especially Florida.
Lady Brownsville-Fox was proud of her independence, symbolized most importantly by the fact she had demanded to keep her own name when she married, even though her husband bore a much more renowned name. Of course she kept a separate bedroom, bank account, and even a small and private vacation cottage. Likewise, she did not always accompany her husband on his many diplomatic trips abroad. Thus she did not understand her mother’s subservience to her husband, especially as she knew they must exist primarily on her mother’s money. How else could they afford the large elegant house on the beach and the yacht moored nearby? She also knew, or at least thought she knew, that her mother constantly nourished her mate’s fragile ego. Lady Brownsville-Fox believed she had a gift for understanding people. She could just look at a couple, even for the first time, and understand what motivated each of them and what their lives were like. She thought this ability came from the Brownsville side and was infallible.
It was while she was indulging in such thoughts the dog first appeared. A large and quite handsome German shepherd on a leash. A man in uniform was on the other end of the leash. The dog went directly to her handbag and began sniffing excitedly. The Officer looked carefully at Lady Brownsville-Fox and tried to lead the dog away. The dog persisted until the officer was forced to ask, “Ma’am, what do you have in that bag? This dog is trained to find drugs and he sure seems to think he has found some.”
“I beg your pardon,” Lady Brownsville-Fox replied. “Do I look like the kind of person that would be carrying drugs?”
“No Ma’am, but why else would the dog be so interested in your bag? Would you mind if I just have a look?”
“Yes, I do mind, but go ahead and look. And be careful, there are important papers in there.” She angrily handed over her bag.
The officer looked carefully, and finding nothing suspicious, returned the handbag. “Sorry, but I had to know.” He forcibly removed the dog and the pair moved on.
Lady Brownsville-Fox was not stupid. She realized immediately what it was the dog smelled. But of course she could never admit to carrying a liverwurst sandwich in her handbag, no matter what. She breathed a sigh of relief, a sigh that was unfortunately premature as a few minutes later, as she moved through security, the same dog attached himself vigorously once again to her elegant handbag. The checker searched the bag and found nothing while Officer Sampson watched with interest.
“Do you have any explanation for why the dog would be so interested in your handbag,” Officer Sampson asked. “Might you at one time have carried drugs or something in there the dog could be smelling?”
“Of course not,” Lady Brownsville-Fox snapped. “I have no idea why the stupid dog might be interested in my bag. There must be something wrong with him. I think this is outrageous. Perhaps the dog was not well trained. Does he never make a mistake?”
The Officer, knowing the dog was extremely well trained, and also experienced, was suspicious. “I’m sorry Ma’am, but you’ll have to come with me.”
“Come with you? Where? Why should I come with you?”
“I want to have you examined by one of the women. It will only take a short time and perhaps we can clear this up.”
“Clear what up? This is absolutely outrageous,” Lady Brownsville-Fox spoke in a loud and agitated voice. “I am to be examined like a common criminal? This is quite unthinkable. I refuse.” She was so angry she began to sputter and search around for sympathy.
“If you refuse I will have to place you under arrest,” the Officer said firmly. “Come along now.” He took her by the arm and began moving her toward a nearby door. She acquiesced as she could not resist without making a scene.
“Officer Gannon, please search this woman thoroughly,” he instructed a large uniformed black woman . “I think she may be concealing something.” He closed the door to what appeared to be a large dressing room.
“Now just take it easy. This won’t hurt a bit,” the black woman said kindly. ” I’ll have to ask you to remove your clothing. You can hang your things there.” She motioned to some hooks on one wall.
“Remove my clothes!” Lady Brownsville-Fox exclaimed. “Never! Do you know who I am?” she demanded.
“It doesn’t matter to me who you are,” the Officer said calmly. “This is my job. If you refuse to cooperate we will have no recourse but to arrest you. Please cooperate. It will only take a couple of minutes and there’s nothing to it.” She looked carefully at Lady Brownsville-Fox and, having been raised in the streets, knew intuitively this was a mistake. There could be no way such a person would be, or even could be, concealing drugs or anything else. Nonetheless she had her orders. “Please ma’am, just take off your clothes and let me have a look.”
Lady Brownsville-Fox was so upset she began to turn red. “I’ll have you know my husband is the Earl of Sandhill! He is presently the British Ambassador to Luxembourg.” In spite of her much cherished independence Lady Brownsville-Fox was not adverse to appealing to her husband’s name and authority when it was needed. “He will complain to the Airline. You won’t have a job much longer.”
Officer Gannon looked directly into Lady Brownsville-Fox’s eyes. “You are not cooperating,” she said. “And you are now threatening me. Do you know how much trouble you could be in? You could go to jail for this. I suggest you calm down and do as you are told. I could, you know, ask for assistance, and we can forcibly remove your things and search you.”
Lady Brownsville-Fox suddenly realized the seriousness of her situation. No matter what her husband might be able to do she did not want to go to jail. She removed her expensive travel jacket and wriggled out of the skirt, hanging both items carefully on the hooks provided. She stood there in her overly feminine lingerie, now just a somewhat dumpy, frightened, middle-aged woman.
Officer Gannon looked her over carefully. She felt her initial appraisal was right. There was no way this pathetic woman could possibly be hiding anything. She felt sorry for her. “Okay, put your things back on.”
“She’s clean,” Officer Gannon reported. “There’s nothing.”
Seated on the plane at last, Lady Brownsville-Fox observed a ripe middle-aged man being very oversolicitous to the fading beauty that was obviously his wife.
He’s not in love with her, Lady Brownsville-Fox concluded. He has a mistress or a lover. She knows it but is enjoying the attention.
She leaned back into her comfortable first-class seat, a humorless but triumphant smile of victory on her face, her guilty secret secure.