I am waiting to board a plane at Kansas City International Airport, desperate for moisture in any form.
Obeying the latest Transportation Security Administration rules, I left my water bottle in the car and packed all my lotions, potions and gels in a small suitcase that I surrendered to the ticket agent, even though I haven't checked a bag for a two-night trip since the Fourth of Never.
Sure, I could have purchased travel-size toiletries in 3-ounce containers and carried them on in a regulation quart-size, Ziploc bag. But my brand of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion isn't sold in travel size! What was I supposed to do, spend all of last night emptying old hotel shampoo bottles, just to refill them with my stuff?
Have you ever tried to wash out one of those teeny Neutrogena bottles? It's not just an exercise in futility. It's the "Futility X-Games"! Besides, 3 ounces of lotion is a drop in the bucket when your skin resembles an alligator purse.
The longer I wait, the drier I get.
And I think to myself: Doesn't the TSA know 50-year-old women require moisture to survive? We need body lotion. We need eye drops and face cream and Burt's Bees lip balm. We need styling gel and revitalizing face serum and mouthwash. And we need water. Gallons of it, in frequent doses through the day. Water prevents dehydration, which, when you're 50 and sitting in the arid environs of a Boeing 717, occurs 10 times faster than it does for the average 30-year-old.
Just thinking about it makes me shrivel up like a dried Mission fig.
And, besides, isn't the Ziploc counterterrorism policy counterproductive? Couldn't a suicide bomber with a high school diploma, time on his hands and dozens of empty 3-ounce containers fill those bottles with potentially combustible ingredients prior to boarding, sneak to the rest room after take-off and blend a potent Malatov cocktail at 30,000 feet? (I''m not trying to put ideas into anybody's head. But if those crazy zealots think they can blow up a jet by igniting their shoes, surely they'll think to try a simple chemistry experiment behind the "Occupied" sign.)
Finally, it's time to board. Settling into seat 2A, I stow my laptop, buckle up and start to fantasize about that first sip of ice water. Let's get this bad boy in the air, boys and girls. Mama's got a date with the beverage cart.
The jet takes off. I look out of the window at the shrinking houses below and wonder what the people inside are drinking. I slip a Listerine breath strip into my mouth of cotton, hoping to coax forth a drop or two of saliva. The strip sticks to my tongue like a tetherball pole in the dead of winter.
At last, the flight attendants wheel the beverage cart out from the galley and HEAD DIRECTLY FOR THE BACK OF THE CABIN!! I gaze longingly at the carafe of ice water as it passes by and whimper, "Oh, nooooooo." My eyes try to well up, but apparently my tear ducts are tapped out, too.
As the servers make their way up the aisle at the pace of an elderly snail, I glance down at my hands. They are flaking before my eyes. If I don't get lotion soon, they'll turn to dust! I twist off my overhead fan and pray for a hot flash to come and coat my body in perspiration.
Suddenly, I have an irresistible urge to leap out of my seat and commandeer the beverage cart. But I'm so weak from dehydration, I picture myself crawling on my belly down the aisle like Bugs Bunny in the Sahara, lunging toward the mirage: "Waaaah-ter ... Waaaaah-ter ..."
At last, the beverage cart finds its way to Row 2.
"Would you care for something to drink?" asks the flight attendant, cheerily.
Would I CARE?!? Hel-lo?! My lips are cracking like an octogenarian Sherpa. Yes, I would care. I would care very much.
"Two glasses of water, please," I say. "And could you come back soon? I'll be needing refills in about five minutes."
She forces a fake smile, and I know I'm inconveniencing her. But I don't care. Because she can't be a day over 35. And I'll give you 10-to-1 odds SHE has a Ziploc in her carry-on bag.
- Cathy Hamilton is host of "Home & Away" on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6 and a 50-year-old empty-nester. Events recounted here may be embellished, exaggerated or completely made up because she can't remember squat anymore.