This Brave New World is actually a bunch of chickens...all without heads and running around, I might add.
Cluck cluck...I admit it. I have become...a chicken, poulet poulet and all that good stuff. My parents are traveling this month. Their itinerary: Paris to Vienna to Prague to Budapest. I envision hijackers on the plane and old dad saving the day by dousing same with several martinis while my mother casually tosses a match. In the aftermath, dad tells mom, "Thank God you didn't listen when I asked you to stop smoking."
Oh yes, I have crafted every possible scenario involving doom and destruction. I have issued the grave warning: "If someone introduces himself as Akfenafalafel Smith and he is wearing a winter coat and an unusually-large backpack, and asks for directions to the embassy...RUN." Don't set your purse down; don't hang around someone who is lurking...even casually lurking...don't go near embassies. Don't eat at popular restaurants - go to the holes in the wall because nobody will blow them up. I admit it, radical fundamentalists scare the bejeez out of me and now my parentals are traveling right into the heart of the action and I am scared for them...cluck cluck.
In between bouts of searching the barnyard for the best pieces of corn on the ground, I query whether my rational thought processes have taken a vacation since September 11. I am not by nature suspicious of people - often to my detriment. I actually look for the best in people. Hate, suspicion...none of the negatively-focused thoughts tend to enter my day-to-day...even when I lived in New Jersey. They are not very useful and lead to silly behavior.
Still, there I sat actually instructing my parents how to avoid terrorists. Yeah, as if I would even know how. WHATEVER! I am beginning to think I watch too much television and let the blatantly alarmist news broadcasts affect my own mentality about travel.
Think about it: how would you spot the terrorist? Would it be like Monty Python's "Spot the Looney?" I mean, can you actually tell who is a terrorist? And what if you are wrong and you jump the wrong guy while the real terrorist proceeds to blow him or herself up? Or shoot everybody? Why would I even consider this within the realm of any rational possibility...heck, even make it a probability in some parts of the world?
Perhaps Hester Prynne and her crew had it right: reinstate the Scarlet Letter principle - every terrorist will have to wear a big scarlet "T" on their clothing. Nah. Somehow I do not believe they would exactly volunteer to do so. And once caught, most would rather die anyway. God, what would lead someone who is healthy to prefer death over living and think that was good? The whole rationale, again, is incomprehensible to me.
But I will admit I am worried about my parents. I like to think of dad as the James Bond type and mom as the peace maker. But these are the same individuals - I kid you not - who, while in Nairobi during a coup d'etat, were stopped by the miltary. What transpired next even I could not fabricate.
As one of the soldiers aimed an Ouzi square at my dad's head, he ordered my mom to open the trunk of their car for inspection. She did so and her underwear apparently blew out onto the road as it had been in an open laundry bag. She took off after it. The soldier ordered her to stop. She did not. She was not having panties on the road, hell no. Finally, my dad got her to chill and return to the vehicle. They narrowly escaped with their lives. Not exactly a stellar moment in the lives of terrorist-foiling couples, but one which leaves me, again, with grave concerns over their safety.
I am certain I am not alone in worrying for real about the "whethers" and "whens" of violent acts that make no sense. Hey, don't forget that Timothy McVeigh was one of our own. We have, indeed, become a nation of chickens. One big ol' barnyard fed so much alarmist crap by the media I might even start thinking I saw Osama Bin Laden at the local Shell station. Although the reward IS enticing.
At the end of the day, I will pray for my parents and hope they have a safe and happy trip. I somehow do not think terrorists and things blowing up are in the forefront of their thoughts. Dad visiting his old university haunts is. It is me, left alone at home with a vivid imagination, who will be clucking around the barnyard with the rest of the chickens hoping they have a wonderful time despite the world in chaos that surrounds them.