Sunday, January 17, 2010

Your Papers Are In Order, Sir

I’m at the border; the train comes to a hissing stop and the guard comes aboard, checking each passenger. He approaches me and I take out my passport, visa and, perhaps, a few dollars carefully hidden inside the passport. “Ah, yes,” he mumbles, palming the dead presidents, “your papers are in order. Have a nice trip, sir.”

Life should be so mysterious, dark and foggy. In my case, it was just a normal transaction: I walked across the street to the county courthouse, second floor, went to the office where passport applications and photos are handled and had mine renewed. They did all the work, with a smile and no bribe, and I sent it to Philadelphia.

No “Casablanca” intrigue; just checking in at the cruise ship dock. No “Your papers are in order, sir”; just “ok, thank you, enjoy your cruise.”

I’ll get the rest of it when I hit Montreal. There is where all the folderol of papers being in order starts and ends. Or at least, with me. Not the Caribbean and its pirate-filled islands of intrigue and mystery; neither the coves and islands of the Canadian Maritimes. Not even ever-seceding Quebec city.

Montreal. Its guard at the dock, not satisfied with your usual ship’s i.d. and driver’s license, demands your passport that’s usually left on the ship. “Your papers, sir?” he fairly grins, waiting for my distress. I pull out my “papers” and practically shove them in his grinning face. “Here they are, you stupid frog,” I say to myself. “Mangez marde.”


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