Have you ever accompanied a jet-lagged sheep through customs?
Our Lufthansa flights from Rome to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt to Chicago were peaceful. In Frankfurt, Dolores wheedled her way into the First Class lounge and helped herself to so much complimentary lager beer that she more or less oozed down the jetway. The flight was unusually empty, and she managed to pass out across two seats before we took off.
Aside from a twitch of the nostrils as the stewardess passed by with a cart full of duty free cigarettes, she didn't stir for eight hours.
I was hoping she might sleep all the way through passport control and customs, so that I could just drape her over a luggage cart and claim her as baggage. But no. When we'd reached the gate and the other passengers began to stagger off, her eyes snapped open.
"Where are we?"
"Chicago. Welcome home."
"Shit. I had a dream we were diverted to Mykonos."
"Sorry to disappoint you."
"My mouth tastes like the inside of Rick Mondragon's left shoe." She waggled a hoof at one of the stewardesses. "Ingrid, my little pfefferneusse, I need a Bloody Mary quick as you can get it to me."
"Der befferatch serwice is entet, meddem," said Ingrid. "Vee air on de grount."
"Typical German," Dolores muttered. "A slave to petty detail."
At the gate she commandeered a wheelchair, and drove like a maniac through the crowds of sleepy international travelers. I chased after her and managed to arrive just as she slammed to halt against the immigration control barrier and pitched forward onto the tile floor.
"Your passport and immigration card," said the agent, peering down at her.
"Keep your shirt on," she said, rummaging around in her purse. "Or better yet–don't."
The agent blushed and pulled his collar closed around his notably beefy, tanned neck.
"What was the purpose of your trip?" he asked.
"Pleasure," Dolores cooed. "And let me tell you, young man, I know a thing or two about pleasure." She flashed a smile that might have been seductive were it not for the traces of lipstick and complimentary apple streudel on her teeth.
The agent's hands began to shake, and he stamped the counter four times before finally hitting her passport.
At customs, the man at the x-ray machine asked, "The two of you together?"
"Not in the legal sense," said Dolores. "Outdated marriage laws. I just use him for sex."
"Dolores!" I hissed.
"Sir," said the customs guy, "I really don't need to know about your alternative lifestyle."
"She's joking," I said. "We're not together. We just...live...together."
"Really, sir, like I said–"
"Hey, Barney Fife," said Dolores, "How about you just run our goddamned bags through your fancy-ass machine so we can get the hell out of here and into more flattering light?"
Forty minutes later, after all of Dolores luggage had been searched and customs was satsified that there was no cocaine sewn into the seams of her evening gowns, they unzipped my suitcase. My eyes were glazed over, my stomach was growling and I would have liked very much to pee.
A tap on my shoulder brought my attention back to the bags.
"Sir," said the agent, "I think we have an issue here."
"With what," I said. "All I have in there is a couple of Greek tablecloths and some dirty laundry."
"Sir, are you aware of the laws regarding the carriage of obscene materials across United States borders?"
He held up a small book entitled La brebis galeuse et amourese fait la connaissance du Marquis de Sade. For those whose French might be rusty, a spirited photo illustration on the cover hinted broadly at the scope of the story.
"And there's this, and this, and this, and this..."
Apparently the eponymous brebis had enjoyed a life that was, as Lady Bracknell would say, "crowded with incident." And somebody, not me, had amassed a full set of her memoirs whilst in Corsia.
An hour later, when I'd been interrogated and let off with a warning and the brebis had been taken into custody by the federal government, Dolores and I were at last in a taxi and motoring for home.
"Can I be held responsible if government hacks don't appreciate fine literature?" she said peevishly.
"I am not having this conversation with you right now."
"They could have at least let me keep La brebis galeuse fait boules-de-neige avec Père Noël."
"Please shut up."
"Are you worried that the body cavity search constitutes adultery?"
"Don't make me stop this cab."
"Because it doesn't, even if you kind of enjoyed it."
I'm not telling.