Our Daily Correspondent


A cheese-ball scanner, one of many found at a typical airport.

I’m not saying I smuggled a cheese ball through security and onto a domestic flight. That would be illegal, and I would never encourage anyone to break the law, by word or deed. Besides, only a total sociopath would have the hubris to boast of having pulled off such a feat. 

But let’s say I had. Let’s say the cheese ball in question contained not just cheddar, blue cheese, and cream cheese, but also mustard and many seasonings. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it had been rolled in finely chopped nuts. Let’s say I’d thought, These cheese balls are so good, and I’ve made such a large batch, that I believe I shall bring one to my parents.

Now, to pull this off, one would want to freeze the cheese ball solid—to maintain its texture and suppress its smell. One would probably then wish to place it in a ziplock bag, and to wrap said bag in a pair of pajama bottoms for extra padding. 

To avert any suspicion, one might wear lipstick and heels. Perhaps one would even pay a few extra dollars for priority access in the vague hope that this would impart a veneer of extra respectability. One would be extra compliant during the security screening, removing one’s coat with alacrity, preemptively removing the transparent cosmetics bag from one’s suitcase, for once, and attempting to communicate both friendly confidence and insouciance.

At such a moment, one’s glance might dart, somewhat nervously, to the TSA’s list of banned substances. One might note that cheese ball was nowhere on that list. One might, nonetheless, feel a little nervous as one passed through the scanner. 

And one might begin to panic outright as she heard an agent call for a bag check. One might suddenly imagine the large, round object buried in the bowels of the bag as it would appear on the X-ray screen, wondering whether the box of Ritz crackers would be damning or exonerating … 

And then? The euphoria of realizing that the questionable bag belonged to the man behind; of seeing one’s bag sail through the machine with one’s shoes and coat; of knowing, as if for the first time, the thrill of the outlaw.

Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review, and the Daily’s correspondent.