It’s A Wonder that Neither of Us Ended Up In Jail After This Conversation

Sula damaged her passport this past summer. To prevent herself from being carried off by giant, pterodactyl-like mosquitos while working on the tundra, the government of Canada issues her and her crew bottles of Deet. Along with keeping bugs away this marvelous chemical is also a potent carcinogen and has the ability to melt plastic. Supposedly the melting of Sula’s passport occurred while she was flying up North in a tiny twin otter plane. She’s talked about having to army man crawl to the back of the plane to spread herself over her equipment in order to both protect it and even out the weight distribution of the small aircraft. I picture the passport demolishing as having occurred while she bravely clung to the specimen collection boxes to keep them safe as the plane soared over the tundra.

This attempted destruction of her identity meant that Sula had to apply for a new passport in a rush to travel this Christmas season. Thankfully she informed me before the government of Canada called my house that I was one of her primary references.

For some reason when interacting with government officials and people of authority, I become more nonsensical and even harder to understand than normal. Take for example the last time I drove across the border when Homeland security asked me the purpose for my trip. My partner at the time had been coaching me in the long line up to the border, encouraging my explanation to be succinct and confident. It ended up being one of the two.

Angry Homeland Security Official “What’s the purpose of your trip ma’am?”

Unwashed inexplicably in a flopsweat and panicked that despite having never even seen a gun at that time, let alone an explosive that both she and her partner will be detained for being terrorists “SAAAAAAAKS!!??”

Angry Homeland Security Official “Ma’am did you just tell me you’re crossing the border for socks?”

Unwashed, even higher pitched and more wail-y this time “No, SAAAAAAKSSS.”


They do sell socks here, but the real draw were the dresses and tops. Photo Credit :

After that encounter, I just gave up and decided to be my rambling, over sharing self. We’ll have to see how this pans out for Sula and her passport. I imagine my conversations with the Canadian government officials to go a bit like this.

Government Official- Hi is this The Great Unwashed? We’re calling about a friend’s application for a passport, could you answer some questions?

Acceptable Response – Yes, of course. Please proceed.

Unwashed Answer– I am all about the questions and have every answer you could possibly imagine.


Government Official – That’s great. Pause. Can you tell me how long you have known Sula?

Acceptable Response – Seven years, we met near the end of undergrad through a mutual friend.

Unwashed Reply- About seven years now, I met her through my ex-husband, I got to keep her in the divorce along with the good kitchen knives. Wait that sounded vaguely threatening, I didn’t mean to threaten you. I feel like this is not going well.


Government Official- Let’s just move on. Can you tell me about Sula’s family?

Acceptable Response- Her mother’s name is Fay, her father’s name is Kim and her younger brother’s name is Patrick. Her parents have been together for over thirty years, they live in the sprawling suburb and her brother lives in the enormous, throbbing metropolis.

Unwashed Answer – Well her Mom has excellent taste in everything and her Dad enjoys drinking beer, smoking and hunting. Sula once went pheasant hunting with him but she didn’t come back with any game because she shot the bird when she was too close and it exploded. I think it made a real mess. Also she has a brother, I think he’s younger but he’s enormous, like really, gigantically tall so it’s hard to tell who’s older. Mind you he needs to be that tall given the size of his dog who looks like a dart. Oh no, I think I’m sounding threatening again.


Government Official ignoring my faux pas – Could you tell me where Sula was born?

Acceptable Response- At a hospital in the sprawling suburb where we both grew up.

Unwashed Reply – You’ll never believe it but Sula and I totally lived practically down the street from each other our whole lives. Well not practically, hers was the next subdivision over but then her parents moved early on when we got to know each other and now they live thirty seconds from my Dad’s house, I mean I practically don’t even need to put on shoes to get there but I do because Sula’s mom keeps her house SUPER CLEAN.

Government Official – You didn’t answer the question.

Unwashed – Are you sure? There must have been an answer in there.

Government Official curtly- There wasn’t.

Unwashed – Oh dear.


Government Official – This is the last question. Tell me about Sula’s employment during the past two years.

Normal Response – Sula is a field biologist who has been working on her PhD for a year and a half, prior that she was a project manager at a bird research facility.

Unwashed Response – Well, let’s see, a year and a half ago she broke my heart and moved away to start her PhD but it was ok because she moved close to my grandparents and they totally have her over for dinner and we’ve been talking about having a grown up slumber party where I come to visit and then we talk and hold hands until we both fall asleep but for some reason it’s never worked out thus far. Before that she was working on a top secret project for the government but I never knew what she did because I am THE WORST secret keeper in the whole world and would have spilled the beans to everyone although she did once mention that she had to figure out the surface area of a bird for her job. I won’t describe how she did that to you because it’s gross but let’s just say she’s an excellent taxidermist.

Government Official – Thank you Unwashed. That will be all for today.

Appropriate response – You’re welcome, please let me know if you need anything else.

Unwashed reply – I failed didn’t I? Can you tell me whether I failed, or is it a secret? I totally understand if it’s a secret and you can’t tell me, I’m trustworthy but I tell everyone everything, in fact I told a hobo about the time I got my wisdom teeth out last week.

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