Thursday, November 28, 2019

Got to get me one of those sweet-potato detectors

            I'll take my shoes off to that.

            Whatever the Transportation Security Administration wishes to do. Done.

            Strip search. Check. Mouth scraping. Check. Hair sample. While it lasts.

            I'll surrender all fluids. Body scan? I'll stretch out on the conveyor and slide along with the tennis rackets.

            Some say today's airport procedures are excessive and invasive. Not me.

            Some say it's silly to shed footwear 18 years after one person tried to blow up a plane with explosives in his shoes.

            I say, "Where do I shed? What else do I remove?"

            Continually, we hear about dangerous things that would get onto a plane were it not for TSA's diligence.

            Like Kevin Bacon's sweet potato.

            It didn't pass security. Agents at the Los Angeles airport caught it before it became airborne.

            And a nation breathed a triumphant sigh.

            Bacon told Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" the sweet potato was in his bag for eating at his next stop.

            Bacon is not to be trusted. What was his true intent? Sweet potatoes are not for eating.

            I have done extensive research into this -- this eating thing.

            I ate sweet potatoes once. Once.

            That tongue sounded the lights, the alarm -- half a century ago -- a sinewy orange mass having infiltrated my once-inviolable defenses.

            I had fended off turnips, and all sorts of greens. I had turned away cauliflower and varied cruciferous agents.

            But I was duped that Thanksgiving -- by the goodwill at the table, the smiles, the joyous sharing, the construction-paper pilgrim hats.

            On that day of communal celebration, my sense of homeland security had left me vulnerable.

            Never more would it happen. Not when a co-worker attempted to make me think that a sweet potato pie he'd delivered to me was pumpkin. Not with any number sweet-potato entreaties portrayed as tasty and nutritious.

            Never more. I would commit myself to speaking truth across the land, especially with all the duping done on Thanksgiving.

            The years have gone by, and I have not ceased the lonely crusade I started in print sometime back when the '80s were new.

            My children have heard me preach the message. My wife has been devoted to my dining dictum. For years my home was secure from this terror.

            Then a few years ago a young lady who had earned a son's invite to Thanksgiving dinner showed up with – I struggle to wrap my mind around it:

            Sweet potatoes.

            Suddenly, right there at my dinner table, a full-blown revolt took place. "Um. Good. Pass that over, please." "Delicious."

            Orange with fury, I couldn't say a thing. My wife shot steely glances to preempt any insult to our guest. Under duress, I feigned placidity.

            Back to Kevin Bacon and his sweet potato. TSA's gallant act of stopping it before it went up in the air harks back to one of the (decades of) commentaries in which I explained that sweet potatoes may have good uses, just not to eat.

            George Washington Carver, I wrote, showed that without serving the role of food, sweet potatoes could serve mankind -- toward the manufacture of ink, or plastic, or makeup. All hail him.

            I wrote also that sweet potatoes could serve as effective weapons when dropped from above or flung at an enemy.

            So, then, what exactly was Kevin Bacon planning to do up there at 35,000 feet?

            All I can say is if airport security wants me to empty my luggage and take off my size 12s, indeed remove all of my garments, to prove I am not bearing tubers that could harm so many, I will.

            As for those TSA sweet-potato detectors, I'll check online to see if one can be purchased for home security.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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