My husband drives me to the Toronto airport for my interview. Pass it, and I’ll be granted a NEXUS card, which speeds up passage through the Canada-US border.
Never mind the fact that I haven’t travelled anywhere in many years. I have hopes; many beloved family members live in the US.
The two officers — one Canadian, one American — want to make sure I’m really the Cynthia Reyes I claim to be.
I start to giggle. Then stop, feeling alarmed.
Cynthia Reyes is a disreputable name.
I’m remembering the time I discovered my namesakes on the internet.
There was the woman who had a flat tire and asked a passing cop for help, forgetting she had a huge bag of marijuana in the car trunk.
“Even you wouldn’t be that crazy”, my family said. Leaving me wondering: do you mean that I wouldn’t flag down the cop, or that I wouldn’t have a bag of marijuana with me?
But I digress.
Here’s another: “Cynthia Reyes, 41, of New York was arrested and charged with third and sixth degree larceny on Jan. 27. Reyes’s bond was set at $5,000 and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 9.”
I now understand how people feel when they have to prove they’re not drunk. Or insane.
“Well,” I tell the NEXUS officers, “there IS a Cynthia Reyes who is an author too, you know; she lives in the US. And another one is a paediatrician.”
I puff my chest out, warmed by the halo effect of being able to cite reputable namesakes.
The whole interview somehow goes downhill from there. They have moved on with their questions, but I am still stuck with wanting to defend the name Cynthia Reyes. So I mis-answer their queries, supplying replies they didn’t seek or ones they requested two questions ago.
The woman officer regards me in disbelief, the man in bewildered amusement. As in: “Yes, we have a live one here, Mildred.”
My poor husband, watching from a short distance, doesn’t know if he should step in and help or let me try to swim to the surface on my own.
As I valiantly continue to screw up the interview, the officers still staring, I start to laugh.
They start to laugh. We are all laughing now.
I wipe my eyes.
It’s fingerprint-time. I must stand a distance from the counter, positioning both sets of fingers on their hightech thingamijiggy. But without my cane, I start to fall over. The quick-thinking officer stops me, does something with the equipment, and I prop myself up against the counter. It works.
Despite my obvious insanity, the officer now seems to be telling me I’ll be granted a NEXUS card.
He reads a list of things I must do when I travel.
“Slow down, slow down,” I say, still not believing. “I must make notes.”
If he’s rolling his eyes, he hides it well.
“She is special,” my family would have told the officers. It’s how they explain my strange answers to often simple questions — the way the words come out, or simply the way I see the world.
Point is: You never want to interview me. About anything.