• At the age of 8 in 1993, I phoned 911 when my dad refused to play catch with me in the backyard. I hung up immediately. But blue phoned back, forcing my mom to give me a crash course in “proper apologies.” Later at the swimming pool, I told my friends there had been two squad cars and (for hyperbolic effect) the “jaws of life” parked outside my house for hours.
• At the age of 17 in 2002, some friends and I transported a stolen toilet (don’t ask) to second base of a local baseball field, poured lighter fuel in the basin, dropped in a lit match, and then scampered to a nearby ditch as 15-foot flames shot out into night sky. Eventually the annoyed small town cop showed up and anticlimactically doused the pyre with extinguisher gunk. The next morning in school, I detailed, to a girl I had a crush on, a blow-by-blow account of getting chased down a hill by three officers.
• At the age of 19 in 2004, I got drunk on a single cup of beer and ended up at a frat party. The daughter of the then-state-governor was rumored to have gotten a minor consumption at the frat-house-next-door’s party. I told the campus newspaper staff I watched her get cuffs put on.
• At the age of 21 in 2006, I borrowed the local church’s sound-recording equipment to make a 4-track for the weekend. The priest thought he’d been vandalized and called in police, who dusted the pews for fingerprints. When I came home (I lived as student resident), I told the cop the misunderstanding, and got a stern talking-to from the priest. Later at my girlfriend’s house, I told her the police wanted to take me in for “grand theft” and “misappropriation of property.” Her father, a lawyer, had never heard of the last charge.
• At the age of 26 in 2011, a guy next to me outside a club in downtown Minneapolis tipped over a garbage can. For a brief moment, nearby cops mistook me as the guilty party. But it was all straightened out. Except when I relayed the story to my students the next morning, telling them I had been witness to a “political riot” of “some significance.”
• At the age of 27, like three nights ago, I was picked up for driving with a revoked license (no insurance, not an actual crime like a DUI) and received a courtesy ride (in the back seat) of the officer’s cop car into town. Buts thanks to melodramatic tweeting, conversations with my boss, and a few “stretchers” told in the men’s locker room today, most faculty and students at my college now think I spent the night in jail, might possess a criminal background, and frequently depend upon the help of strangers and coworkers to help bail me out of tight spots. All of which are not true—except for the last part, which is true, if by “tight spots” I mean, “my oven burners are dirty” and “what’s a good cheese with Malbec?”
Photo courtesy Bluesguy from NY