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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.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Smokey and the Virgin, Part Two 

She's amazing.

For the second time in less than 24 hours, the VMGCS has gotten me out of a speeding ticket.

Wednesday night I was on the phone with my editor, sailing along I-20 heading west toward El Paso when Officer Devon Wiles, with the Texas Department of Public Safety, pulled me over.

"The reason you are being stopped is your speed," he tells me. "I clocked you doing 83 when the speed limit is 70. I'll need your license and proof of insurance."

As I hand him my paperwork, he asks: "Where are you headed?"

"Las Vegas," I say. "I'm … I'm … I'm delivering…"

I can't help but trip over the words. Am I really going to use the VMGCS to get out of another ticket? Do I have no shame?

Wiles looks at me suspiciously. "You're delivering what?"

Now I'm stuck. He is about 30 seconds away from calling out the drug sniffing dogs to rip apart my Caddy. I tell myself I have no choice.

"Did you hear about that woman who made a grilled cheese sandwich and sold it for $28,000 on eBay? I've got it. I'm delivering it. I'm driving it from Miami to Las Vegas."

"You've got the sandwich and you are driving it from Miami to Las Vegas," he says.

"Wanna see it?"

"I think you are pulling my leg," he says.

"I promise I'm not pulling your leg. I'll show it to you if you want? It's right there in the briefcase."

I can see his eyes light up and I know I'm home free.

I again ask: "Can I show it to you?"

"Go ahead," he says.

I open the case and turn it toward him. He takes a long look.

"There actually is a face in there," he says.

"I promise to slow down," I say.

"Huh," he says, his mind focused only on the VMGCS.

"I'll slow it down," I repeat.

He begins to laugh. "Nobody would believe me anyway if I told them I stopped you and you were ticketed," he says.

He becomes quiet and looks around. He's trying to think of some way he can prove he stopped the guy with the VMGCS. "I'll tell you what," he says, "can I get this on video?"

"Sure."

"Okay," he says, "step out of the car."

He directs me to stand at the back of my car, facing his cruiser and holding the VMGCS against my chest, as if it were a set of jailhouse numbers and this was my booking photo.

Just as the highway patrolman did a day earlier, Wiles is going to use the video camera mounted on the windshield of his police car to capture his encounter with the VMGCS.

"I'm just going to get in my car and zoom in on it," he says.

Trucks and cars are whooshing by as I stand by the side of the busy interstate.

"Okay," he shouts from inside his car, "you can get back in your car now."

I do so and after a few minutes he returns with my license. "Okay, this is a written warning," he says. "No fines or fees will be assessed. Have a nice day."

Amazing. No, miraculous.

posted by Jim DeFede at 10:19 PM



Jim DeFede and Cheese


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