The chill of mid-Winter Canadian air could be felt inside the small border guard station.
The lack of chill in the Canadian border guard, who was the gatekeeper to our either turned-away or turnt-up destiny, could be felt inside our surging peripheral nervous systems.
Would we make the tour. Would we “make it” in wrestling? Would we make it to Booty Shake Monday?
These questions racked me and my road partner Sigmon, as we sat in ass-numbing plastic seats, listening to the mind-rumbling quiet chaos of typing, squeaky shoes on waxed floors, and a low-humming, clearly low-set heater.
The grumpy boarderman broke through the choir of soft sounds with a booming death metal vocalization of, “You...Driver.” He pointed at Sigmon. “Give me your keys. We’re going to search your car.”
Sigmon walked up to the counter the borderman was posted up behind and gently handed over his keys like a defeated outlaw handing over his sidearm to the sheriff in a Western film. The borderman snatched them out of his hands like a bully in a teen rom-com.
“Now, sit back down.” Demanded the borderman in a quiet-yet-harsh voice, that sounded as if he had a deep sense of loathing for standing.
Siggy took his seat back next to me and with a nervous giggle said, “Maybe I shouldn’t have brought enough protein powder to survive the zombie apocalypse.”
I slowly brought my hands up to cover my eyes, and with my own little fake-giggle said, “Yeah, maybe not.”
More semi-silent, full-shivering waiting.
I risked a look out the window behind me. The borderfolk had everything we packed unpacked and strung across the concrete parking area. A Canadian shepherd-dog, looking to be of German descent, was sniffing through Siggy’s traveling supplement shop with a hungrily wagging tail.
Our Sith-lord-like borderguard seemed to sense a disturbance in the force; he stood straighter, snap-spun around, and his fierce eyes gave me a millisecond’s worth of indication that he had every intention to remove my eyes with his teeth, given the opportunity. I looked away with the same intensity and embarrassment of getting caught admiring my crush at the other lunch table.
“They’re really making a mess out there.” I informed Sigmon.
Siggy spun around, looked out the window for a millisecond, and back at me.
He started full-on laughing and through heavily impacted breathing he said, “That dude looks so pissed.”
I started laughing, too. Our laughs encouraged each other like the kids that always choose the back of the classroom. Soon we were literally holding on to our seats to keep from falling in the floor.
Before the sound of bone marrow freezing wind could finish it’s first syllable of a friendly warning that the boardman was returning we went completely silent and were sitting upright.
The borderman didn’t look at us as he walked past. I listened to the rhythm of his boots on the floor and started to hum the Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) in my mind.
As soon as he reached his post, the borderman slapped our passports and Siggy’s keys down on the counter and said in a voice as cold as the Western Canadian prairie-winds of winter, “I guess you are good to go. This time.”
We both jumped up like bad kids in class at the sound of final bell, grabbed our passports and the keys, and got the hell out of that frostbitten hellhole.
I had half-expected all our stuff to still be strewn out across the parking area, but instead everything had been neatly and meticulously put back in place as if a nosey parent with severe OCD and an eidetic memory had been searching our private space. The only thing that was noticeably different was my phone that I had turned off and left in the car was now very much on. Praise the nerd-gods for passcodes or Darth Maulcop might’ve seen cringeworthy pictures of me snuggling my cats.
Sigmon started up the Volkswagon, who seemed to burr before she purred. Then he and I made eye contact with moose-sized, well-blended, sh__ slurpee slurping grins on our silly-sleep faces and with zero shame coded into our game we high-f__ing-fived like kids who did the right thing in a 90’s after school special.
With relieved nervousness and renewed excitement, we hit the highway. We marveled at subtle snow drifts dancing across the asphalt. We saluted mapled flags. We listened to “Blame Canada”. We sat dreamily staring into the entrancing, foreign city lights. And, eventually, we pulled up to a large-and-super-nice-to-a-coal-camp-kid-house, cautiously approached the front door, maybe wondering if we had the wrong address, and rang the bell.
A thick, glowing-happy man opened the door. The totality of his physical features and intuitively-felt energy essence reminded me of a younger, in better shape, shaven Santa.
“Are you tha boys?” He said in a heavily accented tone that made it seem like he should be a paid spokesman in a Friendly Manitoba tourism ad.
“We are. Are you the guy?” Sigmon asked.
“I am. COME ON IN, BOYS!” He bellowed with a province-sized smile.
As soon as we had sat our bags down in the foyer of the mansion-to-me, we heard a car pull up. I looked out the open door behind me and was honked at and high beamed by a Tweety Bird yellow sixth generation Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Ah. It seems it was time for us (you, me, and Sig-man) to take a trip to The World Famous Palomino Club for Booty Shake Monday.
You will join us, won’t you?