Humorist Dave Barry And His TSA Pat-Down

Host Melissa Block talks to writer Dave Barry about his unpleasant airport experience under the new security system that examines passengers electronically. He was singled out for a pat-down after authorities told him he had a "blurry groin" — meaning the detector was unable to get a clear picture of his body.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Well, now to someone whose junk was recently touched: humorist Dave Barry.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Last week, he went through a TSA full-body scanner. What the screeners saw, they did not like.

And Dave Barry, you have discovered that you are suffering from a rare disorder. What exactly is that disorder?

Mr. DAVE BARRY (Humorist): They told me I have a blurred groin.

BLOCK: A blurred groin?

Mr. BARRY: Yeah. I was in that machine - like a phone-booth thing, where they make you hold your arms up. And then it sends a scan of your naked body to -they claim - a TSA person in another room. But it could be to Bangladesh to hacker - you don't know where.

BLOCK: But word came back you have a blurred groin. Did you know what -

Mr. BARRY: Yeah. They were letting everyone else go. Everyone else had a nice, sharp groin, I guess. But when I went through, they pulled me aside and put me in this - kind of like little pen. And after like - I don't know - three or four minutes of standing there, I asked one of them: Why am I here? And he said, you have a blurred groin. And I went, what? Because you hate to find this out at the airport.

BLOCK: Yeah, you would want to know.

Mr. BARRY: And I had just had a physical - I mean, literally, two weeks earlier -which was pretty thorough, if you know what I'm saying. So I'm standing there, you know, after another few minutes. And then another man came over and said: You have to come with me - to this little room. And he gave my boarding pass to another guy. And as we're going to the room he said, your groin was blurred. And so...

BLOCK: You said, I know. I know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: So what happened?

Mr. BARRY: So right now, like - everybody in Miami knows I've got a blurred groin.

BLOCK: Well, what happened next?

Mr. BARRY: Well, they take you in this little room. And it's an unpleasant little room. The man is putting on the blue gloves. He's telling me how he's going to touch me. And he makes a big point about when he's going to be using the front of his hand, and when he's going to be using the back of his hand.

And I'm thinking, I don't really care. Like, it's not like if I'm going to have a guy touching me, I'm going to look down and go, oh, it's okay; it's the back of his hand - you know what I mean?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: And then while I was in there, the other guy with the boarding pass came in. And he says, oh, I'm a - you're Dave Barry. I'm a big fan. And so I had this kind of surreal conversation with one guy telling me what a big fan he is, how much, you know, he likes my - and the other guy is groping me.

BLOCK: We asked TSA for some response to what happened. And they sent us some general information about the pat-downs. One, they're not punitive. They say it just makes good security sense.

Mr. BARRY: Well, I would say whoever wrote that it's not punitive was not having his or her groin fondled at the time.

BLOCK: But they do point out, look, you know, we remember the would-be Christmas Day bomber last year with explosives in his underwear. They say if there's an anomaly - and I guess you were an anomaly - if it's detected during screening, you're going to get a pat-down.

Mr. BARRY: I, you know, I'm not going to argue that it's totally unnecessary. I'm not going to say that. I do think - and this is not an original observation - you see a lot of - I do - a lot of elderly ladies being pulled aside for one issue or another. And I suppose terrorists could use an elderly lady to attack a plane. I just don't think they ever have. It just seems like it'd make more sense to focus your efforts on things that are more likely to actually happen.

BLOCK: Did you have a conversation with your wife after this, Dave - like, honey, you know, I have something I have to tell you?

Mr. BARRY: Yeah, I got on the phone right away. And I called my wife, because they say you should share that with your partner.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: And her reaction was?

Mr. BARRY: She thought it was pretty funny. How do I put this? My wife doesn't have any complaints about my groin - that I know of.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Well, Dave Barry, safe travels.

Mr. BARRY: All right. Thank you. I'm feeling much safer now, knowing that they're not going to let me on there without checking me.

BLOCK: Humorist Dave Barry's blog is called Dave Barry's Blog.

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