Weeks and weeks ago I hassled Ben to be sure his passport was in order. It was.
Tonight I went to the file where we keep our passports because we leave the country in a few days. Not there. No problem, thought I with a sigh, looking at the messiest desk this side of tax day.
After the winter holidays I moved five or six linear feet of loose paper off the top of my desk to the dining room table. There was a certain crude order there and the piles of paper at least had roughly squared off corners. When visitors came, we shut the dining room door. We had a house guest for a few days and fed her in the kitchen. But I’ve cherished the clear surface of my desk and credenza, so I felt righteously miffed the other day when we were forced to move the papers back in order to use the dining room for a dinner… I know the guests would have been happy to eat in the kitchen.
Tonight came the time to get our papers together ("Ausweis papieren bitte," you don’t want to fuck up when you hear that request or it’s back to Stalag 17). I’ll admit it. My desk had more papers on it than the four or five linear feet from the dining room table, because current business has a way of growing around me. And I dimly remembered pulling the passports out of that file and then I invented a memory of putting them somewhere convenient. Or I should say i transposed the memory, because I had indeed done just that in September when traveling out of Bush’s USA to Canada we thought it would be smart to bring the passports. I mean, we knew the Canadians would treat us with respect and be generally friendly and not at all uptight and basically laugh at the concept of passports, "Does this look like the third Reich, eh?" But we had to get back into the country and we figured what with that basic paranoia we’ve been living with since the chimp-faced boy took office…. well, passports would be a good thing.
Up in Beth’s office there’s a wooden box with about six inches of bills and receipts and such. Next to that is a pile of insurance adverts, old checking statements, bundles of holiday greeting cards going back to 1924. After going through everything on my desk (and removing it a pile at a time to the dining room table where it could all be sorted more easily) I figured I’d find the elusive little blue booklets with the flattering photos in Beth’s relatively short stack. No luck.
I’m thinking it’s time for the long-story-short finale. No reason to go into the darker corners of my self doubt around whether this was just avoidance behavior because I didn’t want to travel, or whose fault it was that the passports were long since shredded following a Saturday morning recycle run or any of that.
On my dresser is a cigar box, memento of the November 7, 1979 when the boys were born and I bought some of the nastiest, hugest stogies available cheap in San Francisco. The best thing about them was the box. But I got a kick out of behaving like I was in a fifties sitcom and handing out these cancer bombs to the boys at Bank of America and I still have the box.
The passports weren’t in it of course. But while I was going through it I heard the front door downstairs open and close and a few minutes later Beth was back with the prize. The damn things had been in my glove compartment since the Canada trip.