THE DRINK One for the runway

Posted on 09/15/2015

I stopped short of asking the airport security agent to put cream on my back. She had just found a bottle of body lotion in my carry-on luggage and told me to dispose of it. I smothered as much cream on myself as I could before it was confiscated. It was new and it was expensive; so I have measured sympathy for the woman who got busted at security with a bottle of cognac. She made the careless decision to use it rather than lose it.  
The Chinese woman (Zhou) is identified by her last name only; much like Kramer and Plato. A few weeks ago she was flying from the US to Wenzhou on a stop-over in Beijing and got held up by security for having a bottle of Rémy Martin XO Excellence in her carry-on. She was not going to hand it over. I get that. It was new and it was expensive.

She opened the bottle and took a sip. And you know how a sip turns into a gulp; and a gulp turns into guzzle and a guzzle turns into a rendition of a Kenny Rogers song? And your legs get wobbly and you tell your new friends in the blue uniforms and badges that you love them? And then you say “drinks for everyone” and you pass the bottle around? Well, that’s not what happened. Except for the part about the guzzling and the wobbly legs.

The woman chugged. Had she shared it, she may have changed the outcome. But she drained the bottle. And then she couldn’t walk. Or talk. To her defence; Chinese people are big on toasting when they consume alcohol. Their word for ‘cheers’ is ganbei. A literal translation is “drink it all” so, you know; she did. All 700 ml. Now cognac is best enjoyed when you can let it sit on your tongue to savour the nuances and flavours, but this woman’s quaffing was more utilitarian than hedonistic. The elixir would have had to bypass her tongue completely, rendering her unable to enjoy it to its full $200 potential.

Mercifully Zhou was denied boarding of the plane. Airport security plopped her into a wheel chair and then took her to a room, where apparently she received medical attention and slept off her intoxication. Later that evening family members picked her up and took her home. Eventually she will do a cost benefit analysis to determine if pounding back expensive brandy in an airport was worth nursing what must have been an Airbus of a hangover. Or if it mightn’t have been wiser to have put a dab of cognac behind each ear and then slathered the rest all over herself.