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Follow the Cheese

Herald columnist Jim DeFede's odyssey across the United States as he delivers the Virgin Mary cheese sandwich to Las Vegas.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Attention Homeland Security 

Approaching the border, I get in a long line of cars waiting to enter the United States. I watch as the owner of each car is made to get out of his vehicle, open their trunk and stand aside as U.S. border agents go through their cars.

I'm expecting the same treatment, maybe worse. I haven't shaved in a week, I look even more disheveled than usual, and I am driving a rented Cadillac with a large metal briefcase resting on the passenger seat. If anyone is going to get tossed, it's me.

This trip to Mexico wasn't what I expected. After getting lost in Juarez, I eventually did find the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission. But now it was time to get back on the road.

When it was my turn to be questioned, the young border agent asked if I was bringing anything back from Mexico. I told him, no. I can see his eyes starting to search my vehicle. He seems to lock onto the metal briefcase.

"What was the purpose of your visit, sir?"

"I'm driving the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Miami to Las Vegas and I thought it would be nice to take a detour into Mexico."

He stared at me blankly.

"Have you heard of the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich?"

Another blank look. Images of a strip search and a plastic glove begin to race through my mind.

"This woman in Florida, she made a grilled cheese sandwich ten years ago and she claims the face of the Virgin Mary is on it," I babble. "She sold it on eBay last month for $28,000."

"And let me guess, the sandwich is in the briefcase."

"Yes. Wanna see it?"

"Okay," he says, moving around to the passenger side of my car. He opens the door and I unlock the case.

"You can really see a face," he says. "And she sold it for $28,000?"


"And you are driving it to Las Vegas?"


"Okay, sir, have a nice day."

And with that he let me pass. I never got out of my car. He never looked in the trunk. As I drive into the United States, I suddenly realize we can't allow the VMGCS fall into the hands of terrorists. They could use it to smuggle almost anything into the country and once they did, they could drive as fast as they want.

posted by Jim DeFede at 3:35 AM

Jim DeFede and Cheese

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