Montréal–Trudeau Immigration-Officer: Bonjour-Hello.
Duck-Rabbit: [Rather over-excitedly] Bonjour!!!
I-O: Ça va?
D-R: [Reflexively] Oui, ça va bien!!! [Mid-sentence realizes that replying in French is ill-advised because it gives the impression—sadly, false—that the duck-rabbit will be able to answer more complex questions in French. Decides that swift action must be taken to correct this false impression.]
D-R: But actually, that’s all I can say in French.
I-O: [Mock-annoyed] Why did you say “Bonjour” then? If you say “Bonjour,” I’m gonna talk to you in French!
D-R: [Opting to treat “Why did you say “Bonjour”? as a genuine rather than a rhetorical question] I dunno, I just said it and then I realized I was digging myself into a hole … [trails off]
I-O: [Perusing the D-R’s passport] Twenty-one street, huh? Just like the movie, right?
D-R: [Drawing a blank] Uhh … what movie? [Plumbing deepest recess of brain comes up with ‘80s TV show with Johnny Depp. But surely he can’t mean that. No, this is a test; he is probably referencing some avant-garde Québécois 1970s film. But all I can think of is Johnny Depp! Throwing caution to the wind ] Do you mean that old TV show with Johnny Depp?
I-O: [Frowning at D-R] What show with Johnny Depp? No, no, it’s a movie.
D-R: A Canadian movie?
I-O: [Impatient] No no, it’s an American movie, it’s a recent movie.
D-R: Who’s in it then?
I-O: Oh, I don’t remember … these young actors … you know, the one all the girls think is really hot ….
D-R: Oh oh oh Channing Tatum!
D-R: 21 Jump Street!
I-O: [Excited] Yes!
D-R: So … [Unsure whether it should divulge this next piece of information or whether this will be unnecessarily humiliating for the Immigration Officer]….so …. that movie actually was based on the 80s TV show with Johnny Depp …
I-O: Huh, really?
D-R: [Trying not to look smug] Yup.
I-O: I did not know that. [Pause]. Uh, so what brings you to Montreal?
D-R [Relief that the conversation has finally moved on from 21 Jump Street gives way to panic because it has been so long since the answer to this question has been something other than “work” or “visiting family” that the duck-rabbit is momentarily stalled … What’s that stock phrase that is sometimes used in this context? “Are you here for business or pleasure”? ]
Uh I’m here for … pleasure?
[Wait, that sounds really dodgy. Why does that sound so dodgy? Oh God, is the phrase “business or leisure” not “business or pleasure”??? By saying “pleasure” rather than “leisure” has the duck-rabbit given the impression that it will be engaging in some kind of illicit behavior? How can I correct that impression? Oh, I know!]
Uh, I meant pleasure with friends [Oh God, that sounds so much worse!]
I-O: [Frowning at the duck-rabbit and repeating the phrase slowly and deliberately] “Pleasure with friends”?
D-R: [Babbling] What I meant to say is that I’m meeting some friends here … for fun …
I-O: [Now extremely suspicious] And where are you staying?
D-R: Uh … in a flat?
I-O: And where is this apartment?
D-R: Uh … well, I dunno exactly. I mean, do you want me to look up the address? [Starts rifling in purse looking for phone]
I-O: [Slowly, as if talking to small child] Are you staying in Montréal?
D-R: [Stops rifling through purse] Oh! Yes, yes, in Montreal. At least I think so.
[D-R finds that, in effort to be scrupulously honest, is instead acting increasingly shiftily and avoiding eye-contact in manner of person who has something to hide]
I-O: [More suspicious] And to whom does this apartment belong?
D-R: [Up-talking] Well, we rented it?
I-O: And who is “we”?
D-R: Uh, me and my friends?
I-O: How many friends?
D-R: Four. I mean three. No, wait, four. Plus me.
I-O: And do your friends live here or are they coming here from the U.S., like you?
D-R: Welll … uh, two of them are coming from the U.S. And one of them is coming from Toronto. [Pause] No! I mean, two of them are coming from Toronto!
I-O: [fixing the duck-rabbit with the unflinching gaze that is the same merciless stare your doctor trains on you when he or she asks, “And how many drinks do you have a week?”] Is … this … a bachelorette party?
D-R: [Horrified] NO! Good God. A bachelorette party? No way! Jeez. No, we are all old married ladies.
I-O: [Glancing back down at D-R’s passport]: 1974! You’re not old!
D-R: [Bashfully] Well … thanks, I guess.
I-O: [Stamping passport and grinning at the D-R]: Have a great trip!
D-R: All right! I will!