The cost of fake blood

Whenever Renato and I planned a trip to the United States from Rio de Janeiro, we were flooded with requests by friends and colleagues to perform errands “up there.” Between us, we usually wound up with a list two pages long. Our landlady once asked that we purchase an electric carving knife for meats as well as a dress with a crocodile (“crocodilo”) tag on the breast; friends and colleagues at the Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro where I worked in the headmaster’s office asked for Gerber’s child foods and specific music records (still vinyl LPs in those days).

Ruth, the director of The Little Theatre, would ask for sheet music, and fake blood. For this last I found a stage props store on NYC’s Broadway, where else. The cost was $8 per pint. It was in a glass bottle, which worried Renato, and we padded and swathed it in at least five plastic bags in case it came loose or broke in our luggage. The bottle survived our return trip, but the customs agent was not so sanguine (sorry!) and he insisted on opening it and taking a sample for testing. He allowed us to move on with a warning that we would hear from Customs if it turned out to be real blood.

Compared to a customs inspection on another trip, that was just playacting. We had brought home for ourselves an entire round of Roquefort cheese, which Had gotten loose from its wrappings and mingled with our clothing. On opening the case the customs man reeled back as though hit by a club, as did we.

The clothes, we could have cleaned, but the suitcase lining, after repeated baths of detergent and a week under the sun outdoors, had to go.

(my right leg isn’t really like that; folds of my gown and all that)


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