At this moment, the desolated streets of downtown Tampa look like a scene out of Children of Men. Fences and barriers are everywhere, blocking access to roads and sidewalks. Soldiers, police, and Secret Service appear to outnumber civilians. The dreary, stormy weather recalls the hopelessness of dystopian, infertile London in the year 2026. If someone has to be Clive Owen in this analogy, I guess it could be me.
The heavy security presence is understandable. The Republican National Convention is, after all, as perfect a target for terrorists, Occupiers, and acid-filled-egg-toting anarchists as you could imagine. One safety measure is seems fairly gratuitous, however. As I learned this morning while passing through the security checkpoint at the entrance to the Tampa Convention Center (the media’s headquarters at the GOP convention), no fruit is allowed inside. I had a banana with me. I ate half of it quickly and threw the rest away. I wasn’t even hungry.
But the prohibition on fruit was too perplexing to ignore. “What about, say … vegetables,” I asked the TSA agent manning the checkpoint, in my least sassy voice.
“Vegetables? If you brought in a bag of diced onions, I wouldn’t care,” he told me.
“So, really, it’s whole produce that you’re concerned about,” I suggested. “People can throw them, I guess?”
“Now you’re putting two and two together,” he told me, as I walked away.
It still didn’t make a lot of sense, though. You could throw pretty much anything. I could get up right now and throw a chair at the guy sitting next to me. But, rules are rules.
Or are they? Moments after passing through security, I peeked inside the Google Lounge — a colorful, Wonka-like room full of exotic chairs, a coffee bar, and various computer displays showcasing the many wonders of Google — to find a snack table replete with oranges (photo, above).
There is some kind of conspiracy going on here, but, like the whole onion I am not allowed to bring into the convention center, one must peel back many layers of deception in order to find the truth. Which seems like a lot of work. I’ll probably just stop eating fruit.