cheeri-no.

I couldn’t write this in England.

call me paranoid.

but when the last thing you hear from the immigration official is ‘we’re going to make one more call, and if it doesn’t check out, you’re on a plane back to Paris’, a certain uncertainty takes over and you seriously start to, well… what’s the Latin word… oh yes:

‘shit yourself’

and this wasn’t the first time I had had some problems getting into the U.K. – why, just last month coming back from Venice, they’d kept me there a good 20 minutes, which, in stand-there-while-I-and-my-big-stamp-with-a-computer-that-holds-god-knows-what-kind-of-information-checks-you-out time, it seems like years. maybe it was because I made the mistake of waving to Josie, who, being a British citizen made it through instantly. I say ‘mistake’ because the officer noticed me waving and the inquired to who she was. my girlfriend, I said, secretly hoping he had one although with the way he was starting to throw his minute of authority around like no one ever listened to him, I was quite sure he was married. questions about her, my boat, my intentions, etc were all thrown out, but in the end, I was given the almighty stamp… one that looks like this:

pass_2

see the little writing above the stamp? 6 months. it’s what everyone from the States gets. 6 months and no questions. I have at least two dozen in my passport.

and then I went to Paris.

Paris was great. maybe too great. when we landed, I updated my Twitter [I refuse to say ‘tweeted’] with ‘see you later, good food. hello, England’.

perhaps I shouldn’t have done that.

my friend Jenni and I were first off of the bus and first in the immigration line. I had my choice of either a guy or a girl and I chose the guy, as my attempts at simply making conversation with folks is often construed as flirting and when an immigration official thinks you’re flirting, it’s one of their red flags – kind of like smelling of coal when you visit an orphanage. he was a nice enough guy, I told him I was tired and made a few French jokes [‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ being the current favorite of Brits], but he could tell by my wine-stained eyes and clothes reeking of roquefort that I secretly did fancy the country I just left a bit more than the country I was trying to get into.

what do I do? well, sir – I am a writer, I said proudly now that I have a few Converse articles under my belt.

and I can work from anywhere? yes I do. I chose England because I already speak the language [arguable] and I have friends here.

can I prove my financial stability by logging onto a banking website and showing you my tens of thousands? no. no I cannot. but quickly I added that I was paid in the States, my parents accepted and cashed all checks and then sent me money as I needed.

anyway, I was about to move to Vietnam with my girlfriend anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal at all.

show you the ticket to Vietnam? well, I haven’t bought it yet. even though we’re leaving in a week.

tell you about my girlfriend? fine. [I told him about my girlfriend]

and then he gave me a piece of paper to write her number down.

I thought he was bluffing, so I gave it to him.

as it turned out. he was not.

callme

not only did he call her, he grilled her… but not before inquiring if she happened to know if I was traveling with anyone else.

she knew.

and did she know if it was a man or a woman?

what a dick.

and then, the question that got me into real trouble.

‘what are your and his plans?’

now, poor Josie had no idea what to say and automatically went with the last thing we had seriously discussed…

San Francisco.

that was all he needed and he came back to let me know that I wasn’t telling the truth.

I, again, thought him to be bluffing and told him he was lying and she most certainly said that we were moving to Vietnam.

if you take anything from this little yarn, let it be to never call an immigration official a liar.

so, he began, I have no money, I have told him a lie about my British girlfriend and I don’t have a ticket out of here…

and, oh yes – what was this about a boat?

fuck.

wait! not ‘fuck’! I saw an opening…

yes, I have a boat. why are my recreational activities of any importance?

you just bought a boat?

I did… with all of my moneys.

we went back and forth and back and forth and at this point no one was in the tiny airport, so Jenni who was quite bored now of the tiny empty airport walked back around the corner to see what was going on.

if you take another thing from this little yarn, let it be to never ever walk back through the immigration line to see what the hold-up is.

look, you petit chef, it’s the end of August. and this is England. of all of the places I’d try to sneak into, a British Winter?

I didn’t say this until… well, right now, to be honest. I didn’t say a thing.

he did:

‘I’m going to go make one more call and if it doesn’t check out, you’re on a plane back to Paris.’

which meant that Jenni was on her own, and Josie was going to have to sail the boat to the boatyard while I drank good absinthe… half of me wanted to make a WWII joke.

I was made to sit down with a guard standing right next to me making sure I wasn’t going to use the phone.

whoever he called and whatever was said got me a never-before-seen-stamp:

pass_1

one month.

hand-written.

gross.

along with this was a warning: every time I enter England from now on, I can expect the same treatment. I will need to show sufficient funds in the bank, along with a plane ticket out, and even then it’s not a guaranteed entry… American or not.

you know, this passport was going to be a gift to my nephew, a colorfully-stamped novel of the chapters that could also lie in front of him, with lands unknown and strange currencies and now, it’s nothing but scribbled truth porn…

proof that Uncle Aric was a pikey.

7 Comments

Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. Roman says:

    I got the same grilling on the train from Paris, it was complete BS and they took my passport for an hour while I’m shitting myself on the train under water… , hopefully Vietnam is more “user friendly” 😉

  2. kris says:

    finally. some answers. i was about to tell you that your week was up.

    ahhhh, such is the life of a queen (so much discrimination). i am sorry more people cannot find it in their hearts to welcome and nurture queens. so what though? screw those redcoats – asia is definitely wear it’s at.

    2 1/2 countires down, but the possibities are endless. deportation is your future, dear friend and i love reading all about the controversy. so, not to wish you ill will but to merely ask you to keep stirring the pot and maybe to finish your first book before many more countries restrict your access. k? thanks.

  3. SD Steve says:

    Only time I’ve even been questioned was in Osaka. Why all the hassle? Is it because you’ve spent so much time there? I’m curious as to what they look for in your passport as warning signs. At least you were able to swing it one more time.

    Have you picked out a home city in Vietnam? I’d assume Saigon but never know with you since you’re adventurous. Adventurous? That’s an understatement! 😉

    Your plight reminded me of the movie “Stripes” when Bill Murray’s character says, “We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts!” I guess you want to continue the tradition. 😛

  4. Manuel Padilla says:

    Oh! You are moving to Vietnam? Wonderful! What pulls you there?

  5. excuter says:

    you do seem to atract trouble (sometimes?/often?…),but this is definately just this little airport-torturer´s ill-will.
    He probably think´s you want to immigrate (your problem: you told him about your girlfrind and your boat) and isn´t happy with that…

    next time you should just walk through like you don´t know anyone and if it´s not the same person who checks you, all should be as usual ^_^

    I think it´s funny that the more interest you show to people at the airport and the more info you give to the guy at the door to a country the more problems are arising and if you walk like you don´t care and don´t give more infos then you have to, you pass the procedure within seconds…

  6. seb says:

    “English rules” ah ah ah!
    Come back to Paris, here we don’t have that!

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