Full-body scans are like your first visit to a nude beach. Or Barack Obama's first year in office: unreasonably high expectations dashed by dumpy, lumpy pedestrian reality.
We should thank Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz for pushing an amendment earlier this year banning full-body airport scans. At least someone is showing a little taste in the stampede to make people look at other people pretty much naked.
I'm not sure how you feel, but I don't want to be anywhere near an airport security line when Karl Rove shows up for his full-def debut on the electronic Transportation Security Administration monitor, not even by accident.
No offense, Karl. I feel the same way about Democratic Senator Max Baucus, whether he's drunk or sober. That's why some members from both parties have resisted the scanners. It's appropriate bipartisan disgust and vanity.
Is that a bomb in your underwear or just some bulky support hose?
This is also a horrible idea for our self-esteem and basic decency.
Newser's cranky-but-fearless Michael Wolff explored a similar theme yesterday.
I'm avoiding the serious grapple over the safety vs. privacy debate going on about these machines, and sticking to the important aesthetic risk here.
We Americans, passing through just about any air terminal other than maybe Burbank, are not usually Calvin Klein models. Full body images with lurid and detailed outlines, projected on a screen and without the modest benefit of some cover-up, will certainly not help our collective national image.
There's the security we should be getting from the CIA, but aren't, then there's the more private security we work out with our therapist. Doctors' offices could be filled with people traumatized by getting even an x-ray glimpse of themselves or too many fellow citizens.
Anyone applying for new TSA scanning jobs might want to consider that and ask for hazard pay.
We dream we might look better on the scans. Just as we imagine public nude beaches are filled with Victoria's Secret and Men's Health models. (Those looks you never get to for free).
Even the annual SF Bay Guardian nude beach issue, a perennial bonanza for our oldest alternative weekly, seems to show some pretty taut, un-P.C. men and women mixing sand and skin. Go to any of those places, however, and you just find...us: Out of shape, bony or flabby and deeply asymmetrical. If you're going for anything other than the feel of sun all over your excess flaps, forget it.
And a lot of people also had exhilarating anticipation about Barack Obama, a belief he would fix everything while still looking really good in a suit, or just his skivvies.
But everywhere from Huffington Post to the Venezuelan high command, people are having post-expectation let-down.
Wednesday, HuffPost had a photo of Mr. Obama on its home page under a headline: "The Biggest Political Disappointments in 2009." The two things weren't necessarily directly connected, though the juxtaposition may have been Arianna Huffington's old conservative roots showing. (We might know for sure if we could get her into one of those scanners.)
"The Obama illusion is finished," says President Hugo Chavez in Caracas. Even in Cuba, "the hopeful tenor toward Obama is ebbing," says the New York Times. And that's mild compared with the Obama fire from the right.
Yes, reality can suck. So get ready for a big dose of your own humility when the body scanners expand from the current 19 airports to probably every place that can afford one.
You might want to start with one of those cheap New Year's gym memberships. And pray that those various kinds of implants you bought to make yourself feel better don't end up getting you tackled and shackled.