"Wait, what?" I said, "I thought she wouldn't do cruises?"
For years, maybe even decades, my dad has wanted to someday go on an Alaskan cruise. As he tells it, his brother went on one once and came back filled with tales of incredible beauty and grandeur. The main obstacle has been that he didn't want to go alone, and so he's simply waited, dreaming about it occasionally, but never being able to do it.
The most likely person to accompany him would be my Mom, and actually, I was surprised to learn that she didn't want to go on a cruise! Apparently, she gets seasick and was worried that she'd be ill all through the cruise. Finally, though, their travel agent suggested that she get a cabin in the middle of the ship, as the motion isn't felt as much there, and after years of protesting, Mom decided that maybe she did want to go after all.
And upon making that decision, she immediately booked a cruise for herself and Dad.
"Well, your Mom's not one to let any grass grow under her feet," Dad said, grinning a bit.
I laughed. "No, I guess not."
I was a little bit wistful, since I'd sort of had this dream that I'd one day be able to save up enough to send Mom and Dad on a cruise, but I was just happy they were finally getting to go.
"Now I just need to get a passport," Dad went on.
I thought about that for a minute, while "does not compute" bells went off in my head.
"Um, wait a minute," I said, "Alaska is a state, right?"
"Yes, it is," Dad replied.
"In the United States, right?"
"As in, Alaska is part of the same country as Nevada, California, New York, and so forth, right?"
I paused for a moment with my mouth hanging open, trying to figure out how to delicately phrase the question that had occurred to me. It came to me with the usual eloquence. "Okay. Why the FUCK do you need a PASSPORT to visit another STATE in the same fucking COUNTRY?" I yelled.
Dad was obviously trying not to laugh. "Well, we take off from Vancouver."
"Please tell me that's 'Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada' and not 'Vancouver, Washington, USA,'" I begged him.
"No, no, it's Canada," he said, "apparently you need a passport to get back in the country now."
"Hooray for Homeland Security, keeping us safe from math professors sneaking in from Canada," I exclaimed. We laughed, and Dad went back to his den.
So, really, while it still seems a bit stupid to me, all he needed to do was get a passport. No big deal, right? He'd even found his birth certificate (an amazing feat considering it's nearly a quarter-century old document). What could possibly go wrong?
As it happens, a lot of things.
[to be continued here...]