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I walked up to the airport security checkpoint feeling confident and secure—with a fat sack of weed nestled in my underpants.
I’d brought more doobie than I needed on my trip back East to see my family and there was no way I was just throwing it out. I was bringing it back to L.A. with me.
This was back in the days before there were marijuana dispensaries on every corner in Hollywood—back when you had to put a little effort into scoring your weed. You had to make phone calls and speak in code about needing some “salad” or “groceries” or “tickets to the show”—and then meet up with a dude named Sponto or Kozmo or Dreddy some sketchy corner in Culver City and buy a sack of whatever he had on hand to get your blaze on—back in the days when you had to score your weed like a real, dirty little drug addict.
So—I wasn’t about to just toss my hard earned bud—especially not with the foolproof weed smuggling method I’d so carefully and cleverly developed.
See, I didn’t just carry weed on a plane in my underpants. I carried weed on a plane in my underpants in a hollowed out maxi pad. I decided that the troglodytes at airport security had to be pretty fucking sure I was carrying something dangerous before they felt justified in asking me to hand over the maxi pad I was currently wearing.
My crotch carry method required a few minutes of pre-flight preparation and an old school Kotex extra thick maxi pad. Kotex (with wings) were always the best—offering plenty of room to nestle your buds inside the absorbent stuffing. I sliced the pad down the middle, tucked my sack of green inside, place some “absorbent” stuffing back on top and then seal the whole thing shut tape to neutralize the scent. I’d done it at least a dozen times before, with 100% success rate.
I thought I was pretty hot shit—until that day when I strode up to airport security with my husband and the TSA agent stated politely: “Would you two just step over to the left side please? You guys are going to go through the puffer.”
“What’s the puffer?” asked my husband.
“Oh you guys have never been through the puffer?” said the Troglodyte.
“No,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve been through the puffer.”
Beads of cold sweat began to form all over my body. I felt dizzy.
“It’s no biggie,” said the security agent. “You’re just going to step inside that chamber right there, then you’re going to get a few puffs of air blown on you—then we analyze the air to make sure you’re not carrying any foreign substances—and then we let you out on the other side.”
Foreign substances. Really dizzy. I wondered how suspicious it would look if I started screaming that I needed to go to the bathroom RIGHT AWAY.
As my husband (who wasn’t carrying ANYTHING illegal) was directed to enter the puffer, the first security agent seemed to notice my distress.
“You claustrophobic?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m VERY claustrophobic.”
This was my way out of the puffer. My ticket said I was headed to L.A. The guy read me as one of those kooky, crazy L.A. artist types who just couldn’t be locked in a cage. He was going to let me skip it.
“Don’t worry hon,” he said. “We’ll getcha in and outta there in a jiff.”
I heard a long, low beep and looked up to see my husband exiting the puffer on the other side—free. He turned around and waved at me, smiling weakly.
“Right this way ma’am,” called out the puffer operator, indicating that it was my turn. I smiled and waddled forward. My profuse, all over body sweating had caused my weed filled maxi pad to become unstuck and ride up between my buttcheeks. It was a wedge I dared not pick.
“I’m really claustrophobic!” I told the puffer operator in one last, pathetic attempt to escape my fate.
“Don’t worry hon,” he said echoing his partner’s words. “We’ll getcha outta there in a jiff.”
There was no escape. I stepped inside. “The puffer” was an 8-foot-tall Plexiglass chamber that looked something like those booths they used to have on game shows with all the cash flying around inside.
There were two footprints on the floor showing me where to stand and a lighted sign over the exit door that said “STOP”.
The door closed behind me. I was caught—like a giant rat in a giant plastic trap. There were no signs that cash would be filling the chamber any time soon.
I peered through the Plexiglass at my husband. He looked like he was about to shit his pants.
Then, then puffing began. Five short blasts of air from head to toe—and then nothing.
I was busted. The evidence was collected. This was where it would all end for me. I was going to get arrested for a federal offense. I would have a police record. I would lose my job—all those years of work to become a trained psychotherapist—all waster—all over.
Yeah, that’s right. Some psychotherapists smoke weed. I did. Yours probably does to. We have to. Because people like you are unbelievably fucking boring to talk to.
I closed my eyes. As the seconds in the puffer ticked by, I braced myself for the sound of an alarm followed by a swarm of security agents wrestling me to the cold, hard airport floor. I envisioned myself being mercilessly dragged to a “private screening room” where I would be subjected to a ruthless strip and body cavity search.
Don’t say anything without a lawyer, I told myself. I was thankful that my husband and I had just finished watching all five seasons of The Wire on DVD. At least I knew that I had to “lawyer up” the minute they had me in the interrogation room.
Then, I heard the sound—not an alarm actually—but a long, high pitched beep. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes. The red light above the door that had said “STOP” had turned to a green light that said “GO”. The exit door opened in front of me.
I walked out. Calmly. Like someone without weed in her crotch.
“That wasn’t so bad was it?” said the TSA troglodyte on the other side.
“No,” I said. “I guess it wasn’t. I’m such a baby. Heh heh. Heh heh.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Have a nice flight guys.”
My husband was next to me now—shoving my purse into and coat into my hands.
“Come on,” he said, grabbing my arm. “Let’s go!” He started walking—steering me in no particular direction—just away. Away from the puffer—towards freedom.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. You can still get weed on an airplane if the security gate has a puffer.
Also? Being white helps.
[Note to anyone in a position of authority who may be reading this post: please consider it entirely fictional. Everyone else, consider it 100% factual memoir. Thank you.]
The Puffer was first performed at the Groundlings Theater in Hollywood.