Palms sweating profusely I handed my license and the plane tickets to the TSA agent as we all stood obediently in front of The Decision Maker. One person stood between us and the body scanner or the infamous pat down. I could hear the snap of latex gloves as we waited for what seemed an eternity.
Sure, our compliant smiles said “We are a totally normal family who doesn’t pose a threat to anyone… Really!” but the agent’s face twisted and turned as he went rifled through our paperwork, eyes darting from the details on the page to each one of us with a burning look of authority. Our smiles became forced and then it just plain hurt to maintain them. Still, we struggled with equal intensity to look like your typical, unassuming family who just wants to get through airport security without incident. Guessing from the way I felt like I was going to pass out, I think we were holding our breath, too.
“So little man, what’s your name?” said the agent, his eyes fixed so intensely on Will that I thought my son might catch fire.
Without hesitation, Will blankly replied, “Tony.”
Our heads snapped to glare at Will who was not smiling, mind you, but rather looking as bored as bored could be. Tony? Oh, Tony Stark… Iron Man. In that moment I forgot that Will had signed his schoolwork as Tony. Little writing samples, holiday ornaments and artwork all reflecting the wrong name, but now? Now when we are trying so hard to walk through this situation unscathed.
“Damn that Tony!” I thought, “He’s going to get us thrown into the scanners quicker than you could spell bomb scare.” The agents eyes scanned the paperwork, probably wondering if he should check an Amber Alert for this cute, missing Tony.
“This isn’t the person you should joke with,” Hope leaned into whisper, but it came out like a shout. Kind of like when my mom tries to talk in church. “This is serious.”
Under his breath a barely audible “Will” came out and I was sure we were sunk. Get ready for a cavity search and a discussion with the police. Now I didn’t give a second thought to Hope’s transgender status in a body scanner. That was nothing. In that moment I was way more concerned with how I’d convince the TSA that Will was not Tony. Isn’t that how life pulls a switcheroo on you? You prepare for one thing and end up dealing with another.
All of the sudden my paperwork was beneath my nose and an arm ushered us to the conveyor belt near the rest of the busy travelers. As I walked in disbelief I glanced back to the agent who had moved on to the next person like nothing ever happened. He let us go! I mouthed a “thank you” to the back of the agent’s head and closed my eyes as I removed my shoes and released my stagnant breath in a heavy sigh. Thank you.