I’m Afraid of Americans
So there we were in our amazing hotel room on the 19th floor of the Marriott Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario, looking out the window at the mist rising up off of the Horseshoe Falls, the segment of the falls which lies half in the United States and half in Canada… There we were on the eve of our first anniversary, watching the Falls as they were illuminated in a bright rainbow of colors, falling asleep in an armchair. To sleep we soon went, on a bed so soft it might have been a cloud. But the night would not be without incident. I woke with a bad case of nausea and Stephanie woke to the sounds of the couple next door screwing like rabbits.
Our trip to Niagara Falls was amazing, a short little excursion that offered us just enough to time to see the sites and be with each other in the “Honeymoon Capitol of the World” for our anniversary. We left on Friday afternoon, drove six hours to a town just outside Rochester, NY and then got up early the next morning and made our way the last hour and a half to the Falls. Most of the day Saturday we spent on the American side, exploring every facet of this natural wonder, recalling what we barely remembered from when we came long ago as kids. In the late afternoon we crossed the border into Canada without incident and we checked into our hotel. We did a little more sightseeing that evening before eating at the Outback Steakhouse and returning to our room.
It was in the middle of the night when things really got interesting. I woke with a terrible case of nausea around 3:30 AM and made my way downstairs to see if the front desk had any medicine. They didn’t and as I made my way back to our room I hoped to God that I wouldn’t soil our expensive room. Thankfully I found a can of Canada Dry ginger-ale in the vending machine on our floor. Grandma was the one who told me, all those years ago when I spent an entire Easter Sunday in bed with a stomach bug, to drink ginger-ale to make me feel better and it never fails. I was soon fast asleep.
I’m not sure at what point Stephanie woke to the sounds of our next-door neighbors having sex but in the morning she couldn’t understand how I’d slept through it. While we ate breakfast in bed we had a spirited discussion about how much noise the woman next door made and whether our sex-life (or more than occasional lack thereof) could be considered “normal.”
After breakfast and showering we checked out, did a little bit more sightseeing and then decided to cross back over the border to visit Fort Niagara, an old military base occupied on various occasions by the English, the French, and the United States. We hoped to stop by the American side of the falls really quickly before heading home but alas, that was not to be. Our trip across the border was not to be as simple this time.
You see, whereas the Canadians were more than happy to let us into their country after a series of simple questions, the Americans, our own countrymen, weren’t satisfied. I was driving Stephanie’s car and I gave the wrong answers to all of the officer’s questions. When, in my nervousness, I popped the hood instead of the trunk, the officer asked us to pull into a garage and then took us inside a building for questioning.
I know why he did it. Stef’s car is a 97 Buick LeSabre. We bought it from the estate set up after the death of her great-grandparents. It’s not the kind of car people are used to seeing two twenty-somethings driving. When they asked us what we did for a living and I had to say that I was unemployed, that was obviously another red flag. Me not knowing which button to push to pop the trunk, that was the last straw.
In a way, I am glad that they were as cautious with us as they were. I am glad that our border patrol is taking things very seriously in the wake of the events of last September. But it strikes me that our getting pulled over and questioned was probably more a random act than a calculated one. We were an example. We carried Massachusetts plates. We spoke English clearly and fluently. We were almost certainly just a couple of people coming back to their own country.
But they needed to prove a point.
We didn’t let it sully our anniversary entirely though. We went on to Fort Niagara and toured it in the cold drizzle and then we began our trek home. The questioning had cost us our final glimpse of the falls. I took solace in the fact that we took a lot of pictures and that some day we would be back. Outside of Albany we stopped for an ice-cream and opened the cards and gifts we’d received over the past few weeks. We’d forgotten to bring them up to the hotel room with us.
All in all, it was a great weekend. As for the customs debacle, I joked with Stephanie that she and I are just destined to go through every little experience like that at least once, and I was glad that at least we did it together.