Maxed Out 

The avocado stops here

By G.D. Maxwell

Travel broadens the soul... or is that the mind? Guess it depends on the form of travel. Not to mention the destination. Cruise ship travel, I’ve noticed, tends to broaden mostly the girth. I lack first hand knowledge of that particular nugget of travel wisdom, having not reached the minimum age to book passage on a cruise ship, but I have heard people complain about expanding girth being a side effect of such travel. In fact, the Universal Table of Conversions suggests using a pound a day – nothing so convenient in Metric – as a rule of thumb, rendering a seven-day cruise of the Inner Passage to Alaska a seven-pound cruise.

I’m not in Alaska.

But I did see a cruise ship in Seattle. I’m not there either but I passed by on my way to the southwest.

Yes, throwing caution to the wind, I entered the USofA. Testing the tolerance of Patriot Act I, Patriot Act II, various and sundry volumes of anti-terrorist legislation and the memory of the overworked border cops, I slipped in under the radar. Having packed Mello Yello, the aging and now near-antique status Westfailya, carefully – stripped of all armament, vacuumed down to bare metal, adorned with U.S. flags, festooned with magnetic ribbons bearing such sentiments as "Support our Troops", "USA all the Way", "Nuke Public Radio" and "Nothing in Particular; Just Didn’t Want to be Left Out" – I gingerly pulled up to the border check.

"Papers! (pause) Destination?"

"Phoenix."

"Purpose of your visit?"

"Visit my aging and very patriotic parents, one of whom is a World War II veteran... Sir."

"Any weapons?"

"A small quantity of killer chocolate chip cookies... Sir."

"Drugs?"

"No thanks; too early in the morning."

"Any magnetic stickers?"

"Four. Two patriotic, one conservative and one non-judgmental; I’ll be passing through some blue states after all."

"Dog food?"

"Say what?"

"Dog food?"

I looked in the back seat. Zippy the Dog was sitting there making goofy faces at the border cop, twisting his muzzle up in that weird grin/snarl suggestive of both obsequiousness and hope someone will throw him a treat.

"Uh, yeah. We’re packin’ dog food."

One eyebrow raised slightly; the corner of one side of his mouth curled into a gotcha grin and then he reached for his pen. NO!!!!!!!!! Not the dreaded Orange Ticket. Not that! Not again!

"Pull over and take this inside. See the Agriculture Control Officer."

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