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Cheese Smuggling for Dumb Blondes

We were strategizing about how we could smuggle cheese back into America after our upcoming French vacation. It turns out the conversation was for naught, because according to the US Customs website here, hard cheeses are “generally admissible” (which implies that the Border Agent has a certain amount of discretion depending on how hungry he is and how much he likes cheese), but it’s always a good mental exercise for couples to plot how such a smuggling scenario might play out.

I refused to let Mr. Pinault assume any risk, for his lawful status in this country depends on him remaining unnoticed by law enforcement. But me…

“Here’s the plan,” I say, after much discussion about various scenarios. “We hide a wheel of Beaufort in my bag. We buy legal foie gras at Charles de Gaulle. We declare the foie gras at US Customs. You present the foie gras to the inspectors, hopefully rendering us and our bags immune from a random inspection. And then we go home with the cheese and the foie gras, and live happily ever after.”

“And if they inspect your bag, you can say you forgot you had it, ” Mr. Pinault says.

“What? I forgot that I have a 10-pound wheel of cheese in my bag? No, if I get caught, I’ll say that I didn’t know that cheese was dairy.”

“Huh?” Mr. Pinault said.

“Well, I assume that on the list of prohibited food, it says ‘dairy.’ So, I’ll just say I didn’t know cheese was considered dairy. ‘Isn’t dairy, like, you know, milk?'”

Mr. Pinault laughed. “They won’t believe that.”

“My dear husband, there are a lot of idiots in this world,” I said. “You’re too smart to even conceive of how dumb some people are. I guarantee that there are people who don’t know that cheese is considered dairy. And US Customs wouldn’t levy a $10,000 fine against some dumb blonde.”

Mr. Pinault continued to doubt the raging dumbness that plagues a good percentage of the American population. But not so long after this conversation, I encountered exemplary random dumbness in the locker room at the pool.

“Excuse me,” a cute, petite woman in her 60s said to me as I sat on the bench and dried off my feet. “Could you use an extra lock?” She held out a closed combination padlock. “I found it in my locker.”

“Um… is there a combination?” I asked. She looked confused. “Because it’s sort of useless without a combination,” I added.

“I don’t know anything about that,” she said firmly, as if disavowing involvement in a crime. I noted that she used a padlock with a key. “I just found it here, and I’m not sure what to do with it.” She was very sweet, which is lucky for her. I wonder if she’s dumb because she’s sweet, or she’s sweet because she’s dumb. I wonder if she knows that cheese is dairy.

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