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Government-deemed danger 

How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

Damn if Grant Henry didn't put a bomb on eBay. Not a bomb that would actually detonate, but one that had the whole city of Boston frozen to heightened level of freak-out recently. Yes, I'm talking about an authentic piece of the Cartoon Network's curious national ad campaign to leave rudimentary light panels throughout major cities to promote their animated "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" program. The Plexiglas, 24-by-14-inch light panels look every bit as dangerous as the children's toy they were fashioned after, but for some reason the placement of them throughout Boston struck terror into the hearts of the populace.

So of course, Grant has one. He has everything. He probably has 12 Taliban members hiding in his ass, too. Colleen bartends beside Grant at the Local, and I saw her on television last night, holding the "bomb" in her hands as she explained to the news crew that the "bomb" had been hanging above the bar for three weeks now. "But we took it down," she explained to the reporter.

"Because it's dangerous?" he asked.

"No, we don't want anyone to steal it," she answered.

Evidently it was decided, wisely, that Colleen would be the spokesperson to represent the place on the Fox evening news. But I question the effectiveness of the bar's security measures when it came to safe-keeping the bomb, seeing as that very bomb is now on eBay with a picture of Grant holding it up, a smile wider than a highway on his head.

"WARNING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!!" the listing blares. "This item has reportedly been deemed by the Boston Police Force, The FBI, The MBI, Homeland Security, George Bush, and multiple other 'TRUSTED AUTHORITIES' to be a BOMB!!!" The listing ends with the appropriate conclusion, "Own a piece of absurd history!" Notice, too, that Grant is standing at the precise place in his gallery that affords the camera the most opportunistic vantage of his business, titled "Sister Louisa's Art Gallery in the Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium ... Come on in, Precious." Yes, Grant is nothing if not above using a government-deemed dangerous bomb to whore his way ahead.

But in the government's defense, you never really know what a bomb looks like. I remember being taught how to dismantle bombs during part of my flight-attendant training back when airlines were desperate enough to hire the likes of me. In the most rudimentary sense -- and rudimentary bombs are sometimes the most effective -- there are three components to a successful bomb; the power source, the detonator and, of course, the explosive. So you can literally make a bomb with hardly more than one battery and a hair clip (probably), if you had your hands on an explosive of some kind, and we all know how hard that is to find. Ha! I've got five fermented mystery tubs in my fridge right now that are probably ready to blow any minute.

I remember I worked a flight once that sat on the tarmac for two hours because one of the attendants found a big bag of granola sitting in the sink of the lavatory all suspicious-like. We made 20 announcements and practically got to the point where we were asking passengers to turn over their carry-on luggage so we could pack it against the back of the plane in order to fortify a barrier and muffle the blast. Finally, an exasperated passenger came forth and claimed the granola, but we still wouldn't believe the bag was harmless until he opened it and ate half the contents right there in front of the pilot. To this day, I don't think it was his granola, but sometimes it takes the simple bravery of one to illuminate the idiocy of others.

But idiocy is nothing if not a master of disguise. For example, I personally think it's idiotic to leave unattended luggage lying around the airport when the world is freaked out about bombs. I'm like a hall monitor drunk with power when it comes to that. I point out lone suitcases on the concourse to airport security all the time, and I'd wave people away and surround the suitcase with flares myself if not for the fact that it's actually impossible to enter an airport concourse with a pocket full of flares. And don't even politely ask me to watch your bag for you while you run to the restroom, because not only will I say no, but I will drag a security guard over to the next person you went to who said yes, because a bomb isn't any less of a bomb just because the person who left it behind was polite when they asked you to watch it.

But admittedly, if I were a clever terrorist, I'd realize airports are probably the first place people would expect to find a bomb, so I'd leave mine where no one was looking. Which, in turn, means that if I were a clever anti-terrorist, I'd have to focus intently on these unexpected places. So it doesn't take much of a mental stretch to fathom how, with this mind-set, you could look at the world and see nothing but bombs. Bombs everywhere. Striking terror into the heart of the populace. In fact, this is perhaps the biggest bomb that could ever be dropped on any of us. In fact, this is perhaps the most successful bomb of all.

Hollis Gillespie is an award-winning humor columnist, NPR commentator, "Tonight Show" guest and author of two acclaimed memoirs, Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood and Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories. To register for her writing workshops, The Shocking Real-Life Writing Seminar, visit www.hollisgillespie.com.

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