I like the United States a lot even though I no longer like traveling there. They’re now using machines I had previously only seen in the movies, and they’ve replaced the friendly “How’re you doing” with the suspicious “What are you doing here?”

When I arrived in Chicago last week, my fears were realized. After my hands had been scanned, hands which just a few years ago played Bach preludes rather well, the customs agent thumbed through my passport, laid it aside and said, “Wait here. Someone from Security will come. We have a few questions we wish to ask you.” My heart dropped.

As I followed the security official, I could already see myself seated in a brightly lit room, surrounded by picky CIA agents who would quickly put a hood over my head and whisk me onto an airplane bound for Guantanamo. I was led into a room with about 30 others and had to wait until I was called. The official was nice, paged through my passport, stamped it in a few places and finally asked amiably “Do you come from an aristocratic family?” I quietly said I did. “What level? Did your family reign?” Not very high, I hastened to say, and it was no longer considered aristocracy. I wanted to explain that my ancestors had only had jurisdiction over perhaps a dozen small villages, but he interrupted me to ask whether I owned a castle. No, no castle, I said. I was allowed to go.

I like the USA a lot, even though they sometimes ask funny questions. But I do wish to declare at this point that I will not be available to help establish a monarchy in the USA!