A Spaghetti Western: Exploits of Food Smuggler

February 26, 2009

The sombrero in her trembling hand was only permissible because she bought it for the price of a ham sandwich. That and the fact that it was so offensively large that it succeeded in blocking the abnormal bulge to the left of her belly, which slightly resembled an engorged liver. The customs guard smiled up at her with what she interpreted to be an interrogating grin. She suspected that his flaxen blond hair only added to his questionable character.

“No fruit? No meats? Traveler’s checks over $10,000?” he asked as his pudgy fingers poked around her unmentionables.

“No.” Her fluttering voice reminded her of why she could never be a drug dealer. Once in college she borrowed some boy’s lab notes, and was so consumed by academic paranoia that she manically cocked her head around her shoulder to spot out any undercover professors that may have been following her. The people at the White Dog cafĂ© mistook her alarm for stupidity and laughed at the scene. She nearly walked backwards all the way home.

Back at the customs desk, a nervous tremor fired inside her as she maintained her right to be an ambassador for food. Christ, what crinkled inside her pocket was a downright gem if he didn’t understand. It was her relic. It was like jade from China or Guernica prints from Spain!

It was nothing more than a Mexican ham sandwich.



To be precise, it was actually two wilted al pastor quesadillas smooched together. They had seen better days, most accurately the day prior, when she had bought them. Since then they had lost a few bites, sat in the artic fridge overnight, contorted into ungodly shapes due to unforeseen turbulence, and suffered a sadistic death that involved suffocation by way of plastic bag. Nevertheless, they were her prizes.

You see, al pastor was commonly misunderstood to be marinated pork of the grill genre. In the states they had a vile tendency to fry it up raw on the griddle. At times it would come out dry, and left the slight scent of ketchup in ones perspiration. Here and there she would catch stale wifts of this aroma around her apartment. In Mexico, the meat was slowly cooked in its own juices on an upright rotisserie, much like that of shawarma. The pineapple juice used in the marinade broke down the tougher meat resulting in succulent pieces. 



On her last night in Mexico, she retired early, bought two quesadillas and jubilantly ran home. Determined to bring them to the states, she wrapped them tightly and slipped them into her pocket before leaving the next day.

Of all the cagey personalities that stood in the customs line, she, the little Asian girl with glasses so scratched that her general world view was nebulous at best, was selected for a random luggage search. Perhaps this was penance for not declaring her prized possession, for she was sure that they would take it away from her and greedily devour it when she wasn’t looking. Or perhaps she was slouched so far over (in order to mask her bulging pocket) that she too looked questionable, a present day quasimoto of some sort.

She focused on her breathing as the chummy guard rattled on, spewing inane questions about her trip. Oddly enough, in those few moments she had taken up asthma. In fact, she suddenly felt the beginnings of what had to be incontinence. Her heart raced along defiantly. She was so nervous that she even confessed to being nervous.

After what felt like hours of sniffing and searching, the contemptible man gave up his search, zipped up her belongings, and sent her on her way. Perturbed as all hell, she yanked her luggage off the table and briskly rolled it away, remembering her incontinence. Out of what felt like a holding cell, she emerged into the airport’s general repository for international passengers and nervously darted towards signs of the metro station. Recalling her college experience, she refused to look back in fear of exposure and ridicule.

Suddenly, she her ears perked at the advancing footsteps behind her. She cursed her own transparency, convinced that her demeanor had tipped them off. Half expecting a brigade of the airport’s finest enforcement imbeciles, she turned around to face the gentry. To her delight, the man who was so brazenly stalking her was none other than her own boyfriend, who had come to surprise her at the airport! In her lunacy and through the haze of her glasses, she had failed to notice him as she took off for the exits. Squealing, she collapsed into his arms and spoke in tongues, begging him to remove her as soon as possible.

It was not until after they had driven out of garage was she able to speak intelligibly. Pulling out a damp foil packet containing two stinky morsels of food, she presented them to him, for she knew that they were his favorite. She was jitterier than ever and launched into an illustrious account of her subterfuge. How she painstakingly dangled herself at the clutches of the US government to share a token of her travels. And how she raised her skirt and shook her fanny in the face of authority.

And how she risked her health and good reputation to bring forth this prized object…all in the name of a ham sandwich.

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