Thinking that I wanted to anticipate all the possible trouble I might have, a) having no photo ID, b) facing the likelihood of fatigue because surgery, c) looking like a mummy in my face wrap, and d) being a tranny, I figured it would be best to take the 12:30 shuttle to the airport for my 4:00 flight back home. I reckoned that the 1:30 shuttle would simply be cutting it too close if I had trouble with any of those issues.

Upon being let out at the curb at American, I had a wave of fatigue wash over me, so I thought I’d check my bags right there on the curb. After waiting 10 minutes for a family to check in, I told the guy I had no ID, and he said I would have to go inside to talk to a supervisor. Fine with me, I thought, but a tiny doubt began crystallizing in my brain that while I had written the TSA to ask about having no ID, I really hadn’t checked with American Airlines. Remaining optimistic, I went inside, pushed the “baggage only” button on the kiosk, and talked with a supervisor, who took my bag and said there was no problem, and that I needed simply to tell the TSA about my situation. My bag, in other words, would have no problems. He printed me a new boarding pass that had a bunch of S’s on it, presumably to flag the need to screen, screen, screen, then he let me go.

So down the walkway at Logan I went, following what had to be another transsexual woman, a tallish, gray-haired matron from England, and told the TSA guy that I didn’t have my driver’s license. “No problem,” he said. “We’ll just mark you for extra screening. Please move along.”

At the metal detector, everything had gone through the conveyor belt when the man motioned me through. I was holding my boarding pass and I told him I needed extra screening because I didn’t have my ID. “What happened?” he asked, pointing to my face. “Face surgery,” I said. “You don’t have anything we could use?” he asked. “Lots,” I said, and listed the pilot’s license, my faculty library card, credit cards, among others. “We’ll just do the extra screening,” he said, and yelled for “Full Screen, section B,” or something like that. A thin and pleasant-looking woman started coming over, saying, “Female?” My guy kind of mumbled something about “Yeah, presenting female,” and I looked at her and said, “Yes.” So she moved me off to the side and did her inspection of my body while the guys across the Plexiglas swabbed down my shoes and other belongings for traces of bomb-making dust (or fertilizer, which made me glad I was coming from Boston and not Bedford Falls, where it’s pretty easy to run across agricultural fertilizer). As each item cleared, the pimply-faced guy would say “Shoes are OK, ma’am” or “You can take your purse, ma’am.” It smoothed over the “presenting as female” remark from a bit earlier.

But honestly, when you’ve had surgery and have just dodged the feds and are about to make it to the concourse to your freedom, being a tranny is really the least of your worries, and I took my “all is OK” sign happily and walked down to the restaurants with a spring in my step and a throb in my head. And it was only 1:30, to which the angel on one shoulder reminded me that if all had gone wrong, this could have taken much longer, while the devil on my other shoulder was whispering that I should have rested at the hotel or taken a soothing bath instead of being stuck inside the secure area with 2.5 hours until departure.

Time was killed by checking email on the phone, dozing, picking at remaining crusts in my various scar lines, and trying to adjust my bandages so they didn’t feel so mummy-like. I finally hit the bathroom and re-wrapped my head, which made me feel a lot more put-together, and then ate a terrific bowl of marinara soup.

Once aloft, I dozed some more, wrapped from head to toe in the airplane blankets because either this was an especially cold flight or I’ve become much more temperature sensitive. Upon waking, I realized that my head wraps were incredibly disheveled, so I again went to the john to fix myself and put on a little lipstick. I had to wait at the back for the drink service to clear out before I could get back to my seat, and when Ann, the older of the two flight attendants, finally got to me with the empty soda cans and I was just about to go past, she leaned up with a very warm smile and asked “Are you OK, honey? Did you have surgery?” Yes, I said, face surgery, and I was OK. “When did you have this facelift done, if you don’t mind my asking?” “A week ago yesterday,” I said. She smiled from ear to ear and said, “Well you look amazing for only 1 week — I think you’re going to look great, don’t you think?” “Yes,” I said, “I certainly hope so.” “How much did this facelift cost?” Honestly not remembering, I said, “I think it was around $20, $25,000.” “Where are you from?” “Bedford Falls.” “And why’d you go to Boston — is your surgeon in Boston simply better than back home?” “Well, I had a lot of work done, not just fleshy work, and this surgeon is really tops in doing both bones and skin.” She was very interested, standing nice and close, maybe regarding me as a tranny, but more like someone who had done something she wanted to do, as she told me later. “What all did you have done?” I figured if push came to shove, I’d explain that I used to be a man, but there was no reason at this point: “I smoothed out my forehead, had upper and lower eyelids, smoothed out the nose, did a lip lift, and smoothed out a very square jaw and chin.” She nodded sympathetically, incredulously, “And this was just one week ago?” Yes, I told her. “It already looks fabulous, and I bet in another week it’ll be beautiful,” she said warmly. “Now you don’t forget to drink lots of water, OK?”

I thanked her and worked my way back to my chair, feeling a little guilty because I think she wanted to talk more, but I was feeling like it was time to get back to my space. Just as I sat down and pulled out my laptop, here came the other attendant, smiling in a way that you never see them smile these days. Bending over my seat, she leaned over and said with secret enthusiasm, “Ann told me all about your face lift, and I just wanted to tell you I think it looks fabulous, really fabulous.” Again, not really the right place to sit down for a chat, so I said thank you and she left, presumably to talk with Ann about face lifts.

I’m sure that this episode has a lot less to do with me looking fabulous (after all, since they didn’t know me before, how do they know it’s a fabulous facelift?) and more to do with some perceived bond of sisters who, wanting to be modest but also being vain, are drawn to examples of fellow sisters who have taken the plunge in cosmetic surgery. I don’t have any other examples of this sort of thing, but I found it pleasantly affirming if a little surprising.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and it was glorious to finally be home among the bills and lawn-needing-mowing and children and fireworks and all the mundane beauty that blesses me.