My shameful past - read all about it! - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

October 21, 2013

My shameful past - read all about it!

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I'M SITTING HERE filling in my request for a visa. I'm not going to America for another six months but, when I go, I shall be there for more than 90 days. And so I need a visa.

The reason I'm asking for it now is that I'll have to go to Paris, to present myself to the embassy. That will be a three-day venture if I go specially. But since I'll be there anyway in January, I thought I'd do the paperwork now and fix a date for when it suits me.

Actually, the day that would most suit me is 20 January. But that turns out to be Martin Luther King day, which I don't mind but which does lead me to wonder if embassy staff get all their American days off and all the French ones as well. And also, as it happens, why he should be Martin Luther King rather than, say, Martin L. King. And why he's Martin L. King Jr when nobody - i.e. me - has ever heard of his father.

But, please, don't write to tell me.

There are a lot of questions on this form, including (a trick question, I think) the name of the road in which I lived when I was eight. It also asks if I have been ten-printed, an aberration on an otherwise clear form which had me turning to the notes for explanation.

It means, apparently, whether I have had all 10 fingers printed and not, as used to be the case, just the forefingers. But they didn't just say that.

American visa applications always have entertaining questions, to which it is inadvisable to answer Yes. They've dropped the one about being a member of the communist party but they've added several more. For instance:

█ Are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution or unlawful commercialized vice or have you been engaged in prostitution or procuring prostitutes within the past 10 years?

█ Have you ever been involved in, or do you seek to engage in, money laundering?

█ Have you ever committed or conspired to commit a human trafficking offense in the United States or outside the United States?

█ Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?

█ Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization?

█ Have you committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings, political killings, or other acts of violence?

What they don't ask, and really they should, is:

█ Have you ever sat on a toilet for so long that it grew into you?

You wouldn't think that such a question would have any relevance. And neither would I. So imagine my joy when I found that my route from Washington to San Francisco includes the very town where such a thing happened. This woman told her boyfriend "I'm just going to the bathroom" and... well, she never came back. Not for two or three years, anyway.

She just sat there, if you'll excuse the allusion, minding her own business. Her boyfriend asked if she fancied coming out and every day she answered: "Not today; maybe tomorrow." So he carried on taking her drinks and meals and went off, I suppose, to watch Super Smackdown Wrestling on the wall-wide television.

I know how the story turns out but I won't let on now. Let's just say that it'll be worth the wait.

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