Me, a kidnapper?

Posted by jdg | Tuesday, September 19, 2006 | , ,

One of my goals as a stay-at-home dad is to have a major activity planned for either the morning or the afternoon of every week day. I'm sure I'll slack off, but right now I'm serious about making sure we do something every day, partly because I want to acquaint myself with this city and its surroundings as quickly as possible, and partly because I want to get all the outdoor activities in before the winter weather makes me regret having moved here. Oh, and partly because I figure the more we're out of the house, the less opportunity we'll have to mess it up, which means the less I'll have to do to clean it. That does mean, however, that the back seat of our car is starting to look like the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese's, if you can imagine the ball pit filled with moist, stale Pirate's Booty. Stale Pirate's Booty has the same consistency as packing peanuts, so I figure that having the kid sit strapped in her car seat with stale pirate's booty up to her neck is just an added safety feature.

Today I decided to check out Windsor. I wanted to get some good Indian food. I also saw a great looking playground on the Canadian side of the river and I thought there would be some great photo ops over there with the Detroit skyline in the background. Besides, I love Canada. Did I really need a reason to go there?

Apparently I did. The Canadians wouldn't let me in. I was detained for 45 minutes in a Canadian Immigration office today trying to explain to four immigration officials that I was not trying to kidnap my own daughter. I had forgotten her birth certificate, it was true. I totally understood why they wouldn't let me into their country, but was frustrated that they wouldn't let me back into my own. I was detained on suspicion of kidnapping and was told by one of the officers, "You should probably have a letter from the child's mother explicitly stating you have permission to take her across the border."

"Probably?" I asked. "Does that mean that I, in particular, just look like a kidnapper, and therefore I probably should have such a letter? Or do I probably need such a letter just because I'm a man, and my neighbor who takes her daughter to violin lessons over here every week doesn't need permission from her husband because she's got a vagina?"

"You should probably have a letter sir."

"Is it my scraggly-ass beard? I know I look like the kid in your eighth-grade class whose voice changed before everyone else's and who grew a sort-of beard just because he could, but this is the first time in four years I haven't had to wear business casual clothing M-F and I have no grooming requirements whatsoever. So I haven't shaved in a month. I'm not trying to hide my identity. Could this pathetic excuse for a beard really hide anything?"

"It's not your beard that's the problem, sir. It's the lack of a birth certificate for the minor child."

"Can I just go back to the USA now?"

"Why don't you just have a seat there, eh? We've got to fill out some forms."

It turns out Indian food and cool-looking playgrounds are not viewed as legitimate reasons for visiting Canada by some local immigration officials. They grilled me for nearly half an hour about who I was and where I was going and who the kid's mother was and why I was in Detroit and where Wood worked and they made me try calling her five times so they could speak to her. After every question they asked me I asked them whether they ask women who forget a baby's birth certificate the same questions and they insisted that they do. "Aren't there some poor middle-eastern guys you schlubs should be harassing?" I wanted to yell. Finally they let me go.

I tried to walk away with dignity, with all of the officers watching me carry the kid to the car to make sure we didn't make a mad dash to the nearby Tim Hortons and FREEDOM! BLESSED FREEDOM! But you can only maintain so much dignity when you open the back door of your car and three pounds of cheesy white corn puffs spill out into puddles on the wet cement, dissolving into a gelatinous white sludge that will rinse into their Canadian sewers and pollute their clean Canadian drinking water. Take that you unusually friendly universal-health-care-having subsidized-softwood-lumber-producing Canadian jerks! Sure I'd be glad you're so vigilant if someone was actually trying to kidnap my daughter, but holy cripes I'm an American! I have rights, goddamn it!

The booty had shifted like sand dunes while we were being interrogated, so I scooped out a spot for her on the car seat, held my head high and returned to the greatest nation on earth, where it's my god-given right to drive a gas-guzzling car filled with salty pirate-themed cheese snacks through pot-holed streets filled with abandoned buildings and hookers turning tricks in the backs of burned-out 1976 Chevy Impalas.