by Jason Anfinsen
Part One [Canadenied]
They knew I was coming. Someone had tipped them off for sure. My first problem was that the ticket I purchased on Amtrak.com was actually for a BUS ride, not train. "Oh YOU...YOU have to go outside to the curb and wait for the giant white bus with red maple leaf painted on the side." Not believing the extremely helpful lady, I walked over to the geek at the ticket counter.
"How may I help you today sir?"
"This is real funny man, like totally hilarious. See the thing is..."
"Bus ticket instead of train ticket?"
I began writing in dear diary, calling this adventure THE VANCOUVER CHONRICLES.
The bus plowed onto Interstate-5 and headed north towards Vancouver. I quickly forgot about the ticket mishap and gleefully absorbed the empty landscape of our great evergreen state. Hills and mountains. Vast stretches of openness. We cruised at a healthy speed and none of the other passengers seemed in dire need of an immediate arrival. There were eleven others. Accomplices included:
- Married foreign couple with foreign baby child. Eastern Euro parents, maybe Croatians or imports from Bosnia Herzegovina...shit they might have represented Jersey for all I know (which isn't much).
- A quiet black man sat two seats in front of me and read the latest Danielle Steele masterpiece.
- Across the aisle was some fat momma who gently wrestled with her teenage plumper. The Gordo kiddo sips on his Capri Sun grape pouch, munches saltines, runs up and down the coach.
- Middle aged couple of whiteys sat close to the Asian couple, which made 10.
- Let's not forget the hilarious driver, one of those wild cards who loves to hear himself cut jokes into a hot microphone.
"Attention passengers this is your captain speaking," he would say making the elderly couple giggle and look at one another in a get a load of this American comedy way. "We'll be cruising at 65 miles an hour for the remainder of today's voyage. Sit back, relax, and well touch down in Vancouver real soon. If you need anything just put your finger in the air and make a bing noise and old captain Doodles will put this bus on auto-pilot and run back to save the day."
I began writing in dear diary, calling this adventure THE VANCOUVER CHONRICLES.
The bus arrived in Vancouver around 1 p.m. The passengers and I were told to sit still. When the border patrol were ready, they would call on us one by one to check our passport identification.
NOTE: This is not my first entry into Canada. In 2004, along with my comedy partner Dori Goldman, I performed at the Toronto Improvisation Festival at the Bad Dog Theatre. Our performance of D & J was reviewed by Joe Kaplan of the Now Toronto Magazine who said "D & J, a two-person outfit from Chicago, succeeded with high energy and verbal dexterity in their series of scenes...First-rate... D & J saved an otherwise dreary and uninspired program." For that fairly decent trip I drove my Ford Focus right down the throat of Detroit Rock City, stoned to the balls on marijuana smoke, sliding in smooth like a back door surprise.
The bus arrived in Vancouver around 1 p.m. The passengers and I were told to sit still. When the border patrol were ready, they would call on us one by one to check our passport identification. Typical stuff. The line only had 10 people, apparently the bus driver had old history with the boys in blue, or was it grey, maybe it was white? Details Anfinsen, deeetales.
Me, I was rocking this Misfits t-shirt with skull logo, there was some writing on my left forearm (sharpie reminder notes) and these sheriff style sunglasses. Being a smart snapper I removed the shades and flexed my most phony salesman smile. I had nothing to fear but for some reason was sweating pools of stink water.
UNCLE BUCK ATTACK
"Where are you staying?" - some hostel (always say with friends)
"How much money do you have?" - twenty bucks (always say $300)
"What are you doing while you are here?" - drink. read. write. (always say vacation)
"Please follow the arrow to that dark metal room."
Oh fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Goddamnit fuck me. Fuck. What the fuck? Ah fucking fuck. No one else had walked into that room. They all got the green light to return to the big white bus with red maple leaf painted on it. Me, I have to go into the dark metal room. A man walks over to me and asks for my passport. He wears a real faggy mustache, black like Magnum P.I. There is all work in his face. Seriousness stuns my playful demeanor. I'm not thinking straight and the word GUILTY is visible across my greasy forehead to everyone but me.
"I am going to ask you the same questions that the woman over there did for no reason other than to scare the shit out of your butt hole. I will ask the same questions and for some reason your answers won't be as powerful as they were moments ago. I will ask with a deadpan official tone that will trip you up, flip your focus, make you squirm and sweat that barfy smell," he says with his eyes. I have the right to remain silent, right?
"Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony?"
"OK, I'll be right with you."
What the fuck, fuck, goddamn fucking...at this time the Asian couple comes into the room. Awesome, I thought. I'm not the only bitch being profiled here. Those Asians sure are...um...guilty...of...something, right?
He walks back towards the black metal room. Before he opens the door he grabs the attention of another agent, then points at me. Not a good sign. As I sat there waiting I really really tried to remember just why I was pinched ELEVEN years ago.
Inspector Cluso comes back to the desk. "Afeinson, jazun." I walked over to the desk with all of my bags full of books, color crayons, snack foods, and dropped them all on the floor. Without looking at me, he stares at this freshly printed sheet of truth paper that reflects my obvious guilt.
FUCK._"I've never been convicted of a felony," I tell him.
"I asked you," he says finally lifting his head so his words can see who they are going to punch, "Have you ever been arrested?"
"Not to my knowledge."
"This says you were arrested in 1995 Florida." For god's sakes NOW is not the time to forget something Anfinsen. You with the greatest memory since, since, what's his name...tell the gay porn cop what he wants to hear and get the fuck out!!
"Oh THAT...yes well that was a long time ago." He just stared at me with that fatherly guilt trip glare.
"Would you mind telling me what you are doing here in Canada?"
"I'm a freelance writer reporting which hostels in Vancouver are best. I have reservations already paid for at the Pender Lodge Hostel with a return ticket for next Friday."
He took my ticket and hotel information printout.
"How much money do you have in your account?"
What the balls? Why do you need to know that, asshole? I don't believe in money. I avoid the filthy paper every chance I get. Why is this bloodthirsty planet only concerned with money!!
"Um like $20"
"OK. I'll be right with you."
He walks back towards the black metal room. Before he opens the door he grabs the attention of another agent, then points at me. Not a good sign. As I sat there waiting I really really tried to remember just why I was pinched ELEVEN years ago. Then, the flashback memory sequence began...
Our whole crew was operating poorly under the influence of Goldenschlager devil liquor. Young, 18 years old, April 1995. Adult, legal and intoxicated badly. Those treasured brain cells were sold cheap to that bottle of hell shine. The late great Autumn Moore was driving a real nasty hooptie, far worse than an Amish buggy made of Styrofoam, some reckless wreckage. We gobbled acid and everything became severely unclear, very askew from the reality we knew. The sober territory we voluntarily strayed from. Our night was metaphysical, electric cool, fuzzy flesh burning the atmospheres gentle touch. Ripping through the unassuming traffic we quickly turned a sharp corner blindly; this was the worst decision of the evening. The other was doing shots of Robitussin.
We must have been flying around 60 or so miles per hour, time stretched our faces back, the darkness of the night made cars buildings everything indistinguishable, unmistakably nonexistent. Autumn, like some Evil Kneivel behind the wheel, could have been a baby with a pillowcase over her eyes or your Alzheimer gramma. We were people who should not have been operating a poor precision automobile. Flying wild, Autumn yanks the wheel to the right causing our horror ride to skid off the city street, out of the designated lane, at a troublesome slant. The tires screeched smoke and the backside flung into the belly of an 18-wheel truck. Our ride popped that giant rolling vessel hard, lightning jab, stunning it silly for seconds. There was major damage to both rides, smoke blocking our psychedelic sights. Because of the absent state of mind we were all registered in, Autumn kept on keeping on. We sped away from the scene like adolescent brainless buffoons.
I walked back over to the counter. By this point all of the dudes who weren't succumb to indie hippie stoner profiling were standing outside the bus, waiting, steaming...
"Mr. Anfinsen," he says looking straight into the back of my spinal chord. "We are going to let you into the country today since you have already purchased your ticket. But next time you will have to prove what the results of your case were."
"I did community service"
"I replaced this tree that I uprooted"
"I even passed all of the piss tests"
"Mr. Anfinsen next time you will have to provide proof of what happened with the court."
"So...I'm aloud in?"
[Part 2 Coming Soon]