Slightly Off Center

Border madness

By Dennis Hinkamp

Not to sound too utopian, but borders only exist on maps. They are conceptual art at its best. You can’t fly over the land and see outlines of the countries and states we were required to memorize in grade school, much less the counties and county seats.

Ideally, all states would just be perfect rectangles or we could divide the country into a pie chart, allowing you to stand in all of the lower 48 states at once somewhere around Lawrence, Kansas. We could do this if not for a small thing called politics.

I’m only going to mention in passing that border which has been so frequently in the news. If that wall is completed, though, it could sadly qualify as a border you could see from a flyover.

This reminds me: I don’t know about Mexicans stealing our jobs, but Canadians are definitely stealing all our best RV sites. We took a little tour of south central California last week and found ourselves surrounded by Canucks. The odd thing is, they look just like us. You don’t know they are there until you look at their license plates or hear them say “aboot.”

The last time we drove to Canada we were not exactly warmly welcomed. Pulled aside at the checkpoint for questioning, we were asked, “Where did you meet?”

Really? How many times have you stumbled over your simple anniversary date? “Yeah I think it was at an NPR fundraiser,” I said.

In retrospect, how fake and stereotyped does that sound? I might as well have said we have marijuana and patchouli oil under the seat. All the while our petulant dog was snorting and yapping in the back seat. We were never asked to produce documentation for the dog even though she was born in Russia. I repeat: Borders are insane. Somehow, they let us into Alberta.

Speaking of country borders, have you ever gone to Franklin County, Idaho for the scenery? You probably have not. Idaho offers liquor and lottery ticket sales 24/7 and many a Utahn has driven across this imaginary line to risk the wages of sin.

We just experienced the weirdest county border law in the history of history on our hot springs tour last week. In Inyo County, California you are not allowed to wear bathing suits in public or private hot springs pools.

Though this sounds titillating, it is mainly vexing. It means if you are a heterosexual couple and you want to go into a big pool, you have to go on his/her sides of the hot springs wall. If you want to go together you have to go into one of  these little hot pool rooms with locking doors.

I spent my formative hippie liberal years in Columbia, Missouri (Go Tigers!) in the late 1970s. Though you may think of the mid-Missouri as a backwater humid hole, we did some pretty progressive things before the Internet. We got the construction of a nuclear power plant shut down and we got a countywide five-cent deposit on cans and bottles. The trouble was this only applied to our little slice of Boone County idealism. Adding 30 cents to the price of a six-pack in those days was enough to get you to drive over the border.

Dennis Hinkamp still supports the border that keeps people “off my lawn!”

This article was originally published on March 30, 2019.