I'd have posted earlier; unfortunately there was the matter of the MISSING ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL to be looked into first. I wish I could tell you it had been positively resolved.
Brushes with the Law
Cops can save your butt, right? I'd never have been surprised to hear that, but it didn't really hit me for many years.
I grew up in a town whose size could be described by "smallish- to medium-sized city". It was home to a few hundred thousand people, had a discernible (though tiny) downtown area, yet was close enough to middle-of-nowhereness, evidenced by two-lane highways and thickly wooded areas, that it was possible, every year, for each high school's junior and senior classes to hold keggers in the woods come June.
I know. It's classy. High school tends to be.
My junior year of high school happened to end in the spring when area cops decided to crack down on underage drinking, and on large keg parties especially. The local paper printed stories that detailed police plans to patrol surrounding areas with methods that included circling helicopters in search of illegal teenage debauchery. Rumors of extensive arrests of minors made kids nervous, but the planners had no fear. No caution, at least.
I went to the junior keg in a two-door coupe with six other people and three tents. We drove to the designated map pick-up, where we were given barely and purposefully incomplete directions, which took us nearly there. At the last labeled spot on the map, we found the point person for final direction to the party site, a clearing about half an hour's drive into the woods one and a half hours north of town. It was a semi-well-oiled machine. Since it was the middle of June and the sun didn't set until late, the festivities kicked into full gear around 10:30, when the only illumination came from a bonfire, a few headlights and the gleams of adolescent mischief in 150 sets of eyes.
I woke in a tent the next morning not long after dawn when a friend called to me from the outside, saying the cops were there and that I needed to come out. "Yeah, right," I responded, "you're not getting me out of bed that way." Naturally, she'd been telling the truth.
The next six hours were spent being systematically sorted and questioned by the police. After determining age and BAC the cops separted the kids into two groups: those to receive MIP (minor in possession) charges, and those who would go free thanks to the generosity of the justice system. By the time it was my turn to speak with a cop, I'd swallowed a breathmint, sucked on a penny, and chewed a stick of gum, even though I knew perfectly well those mythical breathdisguisers would fail.
The cop asked for my license and examined it. "Have you been drinking?" he asked.
Strangely, I did something right: "Yes," I responded without hesitation.
He nodded, and asked whether my parents were aware of my whereabouts. I equivocated - just as I'd done when I told my mother my plans the previous day - and he picked up the breathalyzer. I blew, and waited a few seconds for a miracle to happen.
It did. I blew a 0.000.
"Let's call your home and let your parents know where you are," the officer said, friendly enough now that my sobriety had been established. I gave him the number and he called; he informed my mother that I'd been at a party in the woods, and he assured her that I hadn't been drinking.
He assured her that I hadn't been drinking.
I held my tongue. Had he forgotten my answer to his very first query? Was he just trying to give a girl a break? I'll never know.
Two: Po Po Creepin
Cops can be dimwitted fools, right? I'd never have been surprised to hear that, but it didn't really hit me for many years.
The first two years of college had two constants for me: a roommate, and a boyfriend. The former varied; the latter didn't. The problem with having both was that #1 afforded little time to be alone with #2. So whenever we wanted to talk without being overheard, my beau and I would take to one of our cars and park someplace quiet and pleasant.
Almost without fail, we would be approached by the fuzz while parked. Over the course of two years this became a running joke: apart, we were harmless, but together we emitted a signal that cops latched onto. At times, it seemed that we spent more time in threes - the two of us plus a police officer - than alone together.
Typically, the officer would approach the vehicle and shine his or her flashlight into our faces. Then our IDs were checked, and the car's registration. Then the questions.
"What are you doing here?" (talking)
"This late?" (yeah)
"Why?" (we both have roommates)
"You're sunk down awfully low in that seat." (excuse me?)
"Are you sure he's not harassing you, miss?" (this is getting ridiculous)
It was harmless, though an annoyance.
Our most irritating run-in with the police happened when we actually were driving. He'd been pulled over for failing to come to a complete stop at a four-way stop sign. (It was a deserted area in the middle of the night.) Officer 1 had taken his identification, registration and insurance card back to her car when I was startled by a tap on my window. I turned and was blinded by a second policeman's flashlight. After regaining my wits, I rolled down the window.
"What's that in the back?" officer 2 asked suspiciously. We glanced back. Several Corona boxes sat on the floor of the van. We were underage. "Oh, those are empty," my driver said. "I use them to store plastic bags."
Officer 2 narrowed his eyes. "Open it up," he said after a moment. Inconvenienced but understanding, we opened the side door and displayed the boxes of bags. The officer picked up a few, eyeing them under his bright light, and asked with deep suspicion, "Why are they tied up?" With frustration that was obvious to me, my boyfriend answered, "Because otherwise it would be a big mess."
After toying with the bags for a minute more, the cop sighed and muttered, "I suppose that's acceptable." He switched off the light and left.
Three: Picked Up
Cops can be just regular assholes in bars, right? I'd never have been surprised to hear that, but it didn't really hit me for many years.
Cop: Come here often?
Kate: Actually, I just turned 21 a few minutes ago.
Cop: Ahhh. I might have to turn my watch back and arrest you for underage drinking, just to get you into my patrol car.
Which one's the LIE?