August 29, 2003

Canada and the Criminal Element

In these days of heightened vigilance against those who would do our countries harm, it is understandable and right that those with criminal records of a certain sort be scrutinized carefully at the borders, such as the one that we share with our northern neighbor, Canada. Case in point: my son, traveling in a circuitous route from Goose Creek to Vancouver, BC was sharing the ride with a friend bound to Seattle to relocate there. The friend intended to join Nate in Vancouver for a few days before returning to set up housekeeping in Washington state. But no. The friend (and you could tell this from his apparent mild demeanor and soft voice, his vocation as a chef and his excellent grades back in college where he met my son)-- had a criminal record and was prevented from entering the country. Four and a half years ago he got caught skinny dipping in the college pond. And now is forbidden to cross international borders.

Thank God our son is a law-abiding upstanding young man free of a criminal record. Well. He is a very lucky kid is what he is. We only know the small crimes he's confessed to. But it gives one pause to think that had he been caught for the following escapade, he may have become persona non grata and may not have been accepted to his graduate program in Canada. Here's the tale:

In his senior year, somehow Nate stumbled onto the college mascot outfit-- a huge scottie dog suit with a paper-mache head with little peepholes in the dog's mouth-- in an upstairs storage area of a building on the edge of campus. Come to think of it, he found the dog outfit while he was in that top floor room for the purpose of climing out a high window onto the roof of the building (that looked south toward the Smoky Mountains) to write poetry (that itself was against the law-- being on the roof, not the poetry, which really wasn't as bad as that.) But the crime story doesn't stop there, no indeed. It seems he figured the ScottyDog costume would make a great disguise, and he donned it unbeknownst to anyone else.

He walked around campus doing the stadium antics of the mascot, and students and staff greeted him cheerfully, thinking this was some kind of off-season team spirit activity. His anonymity allowed him to enter the administrative building and literally tweak the noses and otherwise mildly mock those administrators he deemed worthy of some mild unrebuked ridicule. Thinking it was all a skit, the deans and chairpersons tolerated his hijinx, asking each other as he walked around playing the fool at their expense... "Did you know anything about this?" and "Who is in inside the dog?"

The next week, he held the suit for ransom (this was during the off-season and nobody much cared) sending in tips to the college newspaper complete with polariod images of the suit (with him hidden inside) posing in different familiar places on campus and with magazine-cut-out cliched ransom notes. His extortion 'payment' was some silly something I cannot remember...providing ice cream sundaes to all seniors on Sundays or somesuch. He smuggled the dog suit back into its usual place, notified the staff of its return, and that was the end of that.

As parents hearing of this stunt over the phone his senior year (and so close to actually graduating!) we were mortified and mystified but secretly sort of amazed at his daring and creativity. But had he got on the wrong side of the college administration (especially those whose noses were tweaked) he could well have been spending the night on the south side of the border with his friend earlier this week. As parents, you try to hold up the dire consequences of thoughtless carrying-on, and they think you're just being overprotective. Now ya see here sonny boy! The little prank wouldn't have been so funny if you'd been apprehended. (I can see the bust at the crime scene now: "Okay Scotty, put ya front paws on the top o' the car, hind paws wide apart, and don't even think about biting".

Rules is rules. But I am sort of disappointed that a skinnydip or a scottydog theft would keep an otherwise law-abiding person from crossing a national border. On the other hand, should the whole truth be known about any one of us, and if this level of misbehaving qualifies one for the part, I suppose we are all criminals without criminal records, and just darned lucky to stay out of official trouble. And fortunate we can travel to Canada with what seems to be a clean record. If they only knew.

Posted by fred1st at August 29, 2003 09:06 AM | TrackBack

You've got me worried, Fred. I mean, I wonder if certain government officials know about the activities of certain college students back in the early Eighties. I'm not naming names, you understand, but hey -- ten demerits for being in the girls' dorm 30 minutes past curfew? (late-night p-chem study session, by the way...not nearly as tawdry as it sounds at first). Or frog gigging on Victory Lake? Or the night -- mere days before graduation -- when a bunch of ducks from Victory Lake were kidnapped and thrown into the Morton-Lemley common room?

Not that *I* did any of those things, you understand. So how do I know about them? Wellll...

Say! Got any new pictures of Tsuga??

Posted by: Curt at August 29, 2003 04:15 PM

Gollee Moses! Unless there's a lot more to the story on the skinny-dipping, it's a wonder we aren't all in jail awaiting execution. We've all participated in activities at least as depraved as that. But, what do you want to bet that my former abductor has no trouble getting through borders? It was many years ago, but no one but my friend (who got shot in trying to protect me), my family, and I (who spent a harrowing time for an hour or two, but who emerged unscathed), seemed to care. The miscreant was in the same Statics course that I was taking, just two months later. Madness. All is madness.
Curt--Is p-chem about the same subject matter as what we took in the physics department, in the olden days, as thermodynamics?

Posted by: Cop Car at August 29, 2003 08:02 PM

Unfortunately sexual predators have turned nudity in public...such as skinny dipping...into sexual crimes.

A friend and his wife of 20 years were having a picnic in their garden gazebo one warm summer afternoon that turned into lovemaking.

They have a very private, well fenced 5 acre property...surrounded and curtained with a thick growth of trees and shrubs..avid gardeners their property is a wonder of follies, private areas and walled gardens. They were alone, their son was away for the weekend, consenting adults in the privacy of their own property. A neighbor who climbed over their fence to retrieve a tennis ball saw them and called the police claiming they were exposing themselves. Had my friends not been professionals with a sterling community reputation and active in their church this innocent offense could have been disasterous..even to the point of losing custody of their son. As it is, they suffered incredible embarrassment and paid tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses and are on record as sexual deviants.

However, my friend says that as a father, he can't be angry if the reporting system prevents a child from being molested or murdered because a predator was tracked.

Posted by: feste at August 29, 2003 08:16 PM

Unusual ideas can make enemies.

Posted by: Whelan Sidney at December 9, 2003 10:42 PM

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