As Ithers See Us

Black leggings. Black and white sleeveless tunic top. Black button-free cardigan with tight sleeves. Black sandals. It’s an edgy look, I’m thinking, especially at my age: I turned 71 this year. It’s definitely not grandmotherly.

House dresses or dressy dresses. Matching low-heeled pumps. Nylon stockings. Not one pair of pants of any description. Shorts? Ha! Capris? Nope. Jeans? Don’t be silly. This endless parade of dresses was a grandmotherly look, I’m thinking, completely appropriate in that day to my city-dweller grandmother’s age: She turned 71 in 1961.

But there is no dress here. No matching pumps, no stockings. Virtually no colour. It’s an edgy look, I’m thinking in some satisfaction as I edge forward in the US Customs line at Toronto’s international airport. And that’s appropriate because surely I am edgy, at least for my age. Not edgy in the sense of nervous, fidgety, or irritable. Edgy in the sense of cool. Edgy in the sense of unconventional. Edgy in the sense of interesting: deserving a second look.

Black leggings. Black and white sleeveless tunic top. Black button-free cardigan with tight sleeves. Black sandals. A US border guard standing away from the formal kiosks looks up from his tablet and with one glance identifies me from the photo taken by the Nexus kiosk five minutes ago. A photo linked via face-recognition software to my Nexus account, and to my unsuspicious history of unsuspicious travel to and from the USofA.


I acknowledge my name, but don’t move. What’s up?

Waiving his right to ask any additional tricky skill-testing questions–What is the purpose of your trip? How long will you be in the USofA? When was the last time you were in the USofA? Do you have anything to declare? Do you have anything to hide?–he waves me through. For his purpose–protecting the homeland–he clearly doesn’t think I deserve a second look. After all, his first look showed a grandmother. In his world, I’m thinking, “edgy” and “grandmother” don’t often go together.

Maybe he didn’t notice that the cardigan had no buttons. Yeah, that must be it.

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4 Responses to As Ithers See Us

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – don’t knock being waved through Customs just because you don’t seem edgy.
    I am probably one of the least edgy people you know, but I was refused entry into the US of A once.
    The US Customs officer didn’t believe that a US company with a one-man office in Canada so it could bid on Canadian government contracts as a ‘Canadian’ company would actually have business meetings in the US. I must be working for a US company, therefore as a Canadian I had to have a TM visa in order to enter the US. I got the necessary paperwork and paid the $50 US for the visa. I expensed the $50 and it was a year or more before US Customs stopped asking me if I had ever been refused entry into the US each time I entered the US.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – No, I can sure see the advantages to looking, let’s just say, “unedgy”. I’m glad you finally made up with US Customs.

  2. Mary Gibson says:

    Yes. Well! I recently complained to my neighbour the Gard (or, actually, to his wife which is the next best thing) that I am completely frustrated at Garda traffic stops. At the most recent of these, although the gards were having extended conversations (hard questioning?) with the cars ahead, ONCE AGAIN we were simply waved through. I am thinking of travelling around with a kilo of gelignite in the boot, just to show them.

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