As with most, there are special people in your life that bring about special times and memories that can create a smile on any day just by thinking of them and the moments that you have shared throughout your life. I have been lucky to have that special friend who has been in my life longer than I have known anyone. Such is the case for knowing one for so long, you always have the connection and whenever times allow in being together, you add more to the already huge list of life's precious memories that are ingrained within the hidden channels of your brain.
My best friend and I have traveled to many places and have shared some of the most amazing of times together, so it would come of no surprise to anyone who knows us that wherever we happen to be, or plan to be, there is always a special surprise waiting just around the corner that the two of us fall into. It would seem as crazy as any Lucy and Ethel skit and will always end up with uproarious, raucous laughter to seal the moment.
Take for instance our most recent rendezvous. It always starts off well planned, without any assumptions that something is pending ahead. It started off simple enough, catch a ride to the train station, get on the train and relax for our journey ahead.
Close call, the forgotten cell phone showed up just in time.
It was not left at home as it was thought to be. We took our places in the business class section and awaited our entrance into the Canadian countryside.
"What do you mean there is no dining car....only a snack lounge car....is there cocktail availability?
Whew, close call,.... long journey, no libations was the first sign of danger ahead but that fear was quickly extinguished by the on board announcement that the lounge was open and now serving beverages and that nice cocktail would take us to our comfort zone but we still had seven and a half hours to go. We made ourselves content relaxing in our seats trying to keep busy and napping every now and then.
A couple of hours into our ride I opened my satchel to get my computer and the potent acrid smell of medicinal herb sprang forth to embellish everyone's noses nearby. I asked about the smell and my friend explained that a gift for the journey had been given for our pleasure later and the joint was in the camera case that he put in my carry on bag. It was a good enough explanation, and no extra detail was needed to be given, I closed the bag and worked on the laptop for a while.
We had a halfway stopping point which gave us a few moments to try and procure a little dinner which led us on a very quick brisk walk to find a spot close by to have something to eat. We came back empty handed as there were no eateries within our area and our space of time to get back on board was short and we resigned ourselves to the train menu which was very limited. We were hungry and tired and still had some time before our arrival in Canada. The train system in the USA is very limited and there were quite a few stops and bridges to cross but the scenery made it all worthwhile. We arrived in Canada but still had to wait a while for a bridge to close up before we arrived at the station. I felt that we would never arrive and when we did we left most of our tired logic and senses back on the train.
We were the second car to empty out that evening and we were very much delighted to finally be there. We looked forward to relaxing in our hotel room and changing out of our travel clothes. Unfortunately we were not paying close attention to what laid ahead, and that my dear readers is quite the story to tell.
We both were so concerned that we had our passport and identifications available and proceeded to gather all that information, that we failed to notice that out came a delightful handsome black Labrador dog. Who graciously blessed us both with much attention. As I stupidly stood there petting him on the head I did not tune into the fact that it was a drug sniffing dog, and the herb that permeated my satchel was a delight to his most handsome of noses. In fact he like me so much that he came back for another visit, ............... gee how cute I thought and then the light caught my friends lilly white face and he telepathically relayed the message loud and clear. " B U S T E D "
By the time I made the connection we were at the border desk being asked for our identifications, and as I made my way up to the desk I could feel the anxiety spread through me like a plague. I watched as my friend handed his passport up and answered the questions with finesse, yet I could feel that he was on my trail of fear that still loomed until we got out of the train station doors. It was my turn and as I tried to still the panic within, I answered the questions asked of me, yet all the while trying to think of a way to dispense of the herb that now would probably land me in jail for the night. Afterall it was just a joint but still illegal by the law's eyes. I got my passport stamped and we both headed out the door towards freedom, and as I was just starting to feel freedom so near, we were singled out to go to another room and have our luggage checked as well as our beings.
As we both moved towards the room per their instructions, both our persona's stayed focused and calm. NOW...where did that calmness come from I have no idea. The whole scenario played out like a movie. I could feel the camera setup before me. We were the stars in some sort of drug movie and our lives depended on getting over the border unscathed and unnoticed. That was not to be.....we could feel the skin tingle with the fear of getting caught and just how we would be able to have, what started off to be, a fun getaway. Only now it felt like a scene from "Midnight Express" and two mature gay men were going to be locked up in some foreign jail, never to return to Saks Fifth Avenue or another Neiman Marcus sale. It suddenly became an out of body experience as I heard every thought my friend was saying to me and my thoughts were being heard also on the other side of the room. We never had to speak, we both endured interrogation beyond the normal range. Here we were dressed up in Prada and Gucci looking like very responsible American citizens and now we were being questioned about carrying massive amounts of, heroin, crack, crank, cocaine, and marijuana. If that was not enough we were thought to be carrying firearms also.
I was in dizzying disbelief that these most handsome border patrols were trying to coerce some kind of reality while the ONE joint laid inconspicuously in the camera case. Our items were gone through and removed from our bag one item at a time. My friend encouraged his inspector to check all the pockets, nooks and crannies within his luggage, while I stood smashed up against a wall while the inspector informed me to tell him now of what we were hiding before they found it. His demeanor, while not aggressive, reeked of hope to catch the smuggling "Attitude Americans" . He confessed to smoking and doing drugs occasionally but I needed to confess what I had hidden before it was found in my bag. With every ounce of tongue control I bluntly told him to help himself in trying to find something that was not there. He did not seem to interested in my response so I directly asked if he needed anymore answers and to quit trying to get me to admit to something I was not guilty of doing. That prompted him to move away quickly and move to the other side of the counter where he began to requisition my friend to see if our stories matched.
Meanwhile the only real "Attitude American" was now taking his dose of inquisition to see if our stories were corroborated, when suddenly the most amazing thing occurred.
SCENE 29 / TAKE 1
I peripherally saw the inspector take out the camera case (movie camera cuts to the camera and it's case) while I am still looking straight into his eyes, I casually glance at my friend across the room at the desk where his items were strewn on the counter and I heard within my head his plea to "STAY CALM".
"MOVIE CAMERA SHOOTS TO INSPECTOR PLAYING WITH CAMERA CASE"
"MOVIE CAMERA ZOOMS IN ON MY FACE THEN TO MY FRIENDS FACE AND BACK TO THE INSPECTOR STILL TOYING WITH THE ODOROUS SMALL CAMERA CASE"
He dutifully and graciously picked up the camera and its case, as well as my laptop and began inquiring about its disc contents and what would be seen on both. As if perhaps, pictures and names of my dealers would magically appear.....hahaha
I answered his interrogative questions about what he might find on my laptop and directly spoke to this patrol that if "he wanted to take me back and strip search me I was all for that" and he cut the tension with a most delectable laugh. It was at that moment that he removed the camera from it's case. That same moment, I was planning to be busted for the joint and was already designing my new home prison cell. I was in silent awe as I glanced across the room to my friend, whose face had completely drained of blood, stood watching across the room at what was being played out before our very eyes. His deliberate intensive glare loudly spoke once again in my head "STAY CALM"
It was at that very second that the joint rolled out of the camera case and was now in full view for anyone to see. As it laid on the inside edge of the case I quickly viewed it peripherally and kept my eyes solely on my inspector so that I would not draw attention to what laid in full view. I very much tried to keep him distracted from what laid out in view and knew that the camera that he held reeked of medicinal herb and yet he was content to keep inquiring, just hoping for a confessional breakthrough yet much to his chagrin nothing turned up. I swiftly glanced again at my friend across the room watching this whole filmed scene play out, when I saw the inspector pick up the camera case, eyes still on me, and as he tilted the case as his eyes kept me in full view, that insignificant joint rolled right back in it's holding area.
It was then that he put the camera back into it case, closed it, and laid it close to the other articles that were scattered about the desk. He nor anyone else noticed the "joint that got away". I looked across the room and could see the blood start to travel back to the outer reaches of my friends face, as if to say a great big "WHEW".
My articles from my bags were scattered about and I was still reeling from the moment of "DIVINE INTERVENTION" when he and his inspecting partners apologized for taking our time and thanked us for our cooperation. "Did you want me to repack this or would you like to" he asked. It was at that moment I snapped back into reality and quickly said that I would be happy to put it all back and that I very much respected his job and it was not a bother and I was not upset.
Upset hell, I had at least three heart attacks, wet underwear and could still feel the numbness of fear as I repacked my bags. Still realizing that the damn dog was nearby and the discovery of substance avoided, I had to figure out how to repack the camera that still laid on the counter. I looked across the room and saw that my friend acknowledged the presence of gods furry creature nearby and sent the message that I readily received. It would be imperative that I somehow disguise the smell of our gift so that I would not be "BUSTED" a second time as we exited this final scene toward freedom. I kept glancing at the camera case and how I would approach picking it up and packing it so its aroma would not follow me towards that canine and out the door of this inspection room. I found a travel can of hairspray that felt empty but I hoped for a squirt or two from the can and whatever remaining ingredients that might spray forth with an aerosol lacquer smell. AHHHH....divine intervention once again and as the last vestiges of spray spit forth, I sprayed my shoe inside and quickly picked up the camera and its case and shoved it briskly into my shoe, zipped the bag and turned to start my exit.
As if all that happened was not enough, that black snifster was still an awaiting nemesis fifteen feet ahead, and I still had to walk by him. I saw that we were not the only people being treated to a special meeting of border inspectors, albeit we were the older and nicer looking culprits, but the line ran out the door as we exited. There were so many people crowding the door that I swiftly lifted my bags high above my head to squeeze through the crowd with the most intense fear that the dog had it in for me, when the inspector who grilled me so intensely, led the dog back outside which paved my way out the door toward a taxi. My friend, still paralyzed from that whole debacle, tried to speak and I said lets not discuss this till we land in the safety of our hotel. With his savoir faire and his most award winning performance he happily spoke to the cab driver as if nothing had just transpired. While I sat in the back, almost hoarse from fear, could not say a thing. I was transfixed at how incredible he moved from one scene to another and how he kept himself so together so that no one would have known what we both just went through.
I sat in the back of that cab and realized just how surreal that previous scene had played out with such an amazing ending result. We arrived at our hotel and as my friend stood there looking so debonair, checked us in, his first question was "Is the BAR still open" which was the signal for alcohol tension relief. After leaving our bags in the room on the top floor, we vehemently made a dash to the libative lounge where we spilled out every detail that we each had just experienced. As the cocktails did their cleansing magic we both acknowledged that once again we had added another chapter to the book of friendship that we had shared for so many years. We had been kicked out of hotels for too much laughter and now we were suspected of being drug lords and we are still here to tell the stories that seem to arrive most unexpectedly.
I guess we should have been more aware that there might have been drug sniffing dogs at the border but we know that while we are older our collaborative efforts still feel as if we were in our twenties. Looking back, eventhough it was a harrowing experience, I felt the safety of someone who would be there if I ever needed help. It was a mutual feeling and showed what friends will do for each other in times of crisis.
As I make my way toward the epilogue of this "event" I can look back and see how silly it all went down. How unnecessary it all was and how it changed our perspective of Canadian borders. We were just two mature, well dressed tourists who wanted to visit their city. I searched for some kind of moral to the experience that evening in hopes that it would ease my opinion of customs and border patrols yet it still alluded me. The answer to my query would appear in the most funny way the next day.
The next day after a couple of hours of most intense shopping to ease our unfortunate pain of the evening before, we blended into the crowds of moving people out on the street which led us to a large city park all taped off with large signs with cannibas leaves painted on them and a very large banner which read "SMOKE OUT! LEGALIZE MARIJUANA IN CANADA". We ventured toward the stoned crowd where bongs and pipes were graciously shared by all and the smell of burning marijuana weed filled the air. As we entered to take a look, we panicked and turned around fearing that we would be stopped again as our clothes would smell of the essence of herb so we trotted out as quickly as we entered. It created quite a laugh for the both of us yet underneath the chuckle was still a sting.
This event would haunt us every now and then during our trip and our return to our homeland, which required no inspections of our luggage at the border. We both tried to analyze how it all went down and how we weathered through it with such aplomb.
It did not dawn on me until later that the reason for such an intense search probably had to do with the "SMOKE OUT" in the park. It was then that I understood why all those young people were lined up to be searched as they were making their way to the Cannibas Carnival. We unknowingly got infiltrated with the group of migrating pot people all by happenstance.
If you ever travel to the great country of Canada remember to leave your personal greenery behind or you might be starring in your own version "Cannibas House of Horrors".