They say that hindsight is 20/20…or is that Mad Dog? Either way I wasn’t doing much looking back ten years ago, and not too much looking forward either. In a way, you could say that that drug and alcohol fueled time was the most zen period of my life; a time when I was living in and for the moment, if barely. Today I thought to regale you with a tale from my youth, the tale of my second arrest.
Being twenty is difficult for many young adults, primarily those without the proper fake IDs. Although I was one of the burdened few who had only my wits and charm to rely on, being twenty was not a challenge to my quest for near constant inebriation. I had become friends with the bartenders at one of the local downtown bars, and they would wave me in before the bouncer could try to check my ID. I would perch on a bar stool and drink free White Russians to my liver’s content; the only price was flirting with forty-year-old John and his leering friends. Whenever a band I liked came to town they usually played at an over twenty-one club on the square where I had another in, this time at the door. Once again I would drink on someone else’s tab, in this case another older man who had fallen under the spell of my well-developed friend Marie. And then, most of my friends were older and were always down to run to the liquor store for their underage chum.
So I had no problems getting alcohol: my problems started with the things I wanted once I was already drunk. The night of my second arrest what I wanted was Taco Bell. My friend Jeanie and I tried to coerce her boyfriend to take us out for chalupas but to no avail. Finally I snagged his car keys off the wall and we snuck out of the house and stole his car. I made it to Taco Bell just fine, but as we were about to pull out of the parking lot, Jeanie told me that she wanted to drive. It was, after all, her boyfriend’s car, so I handed her the keys. Two minutes after pulling out of Taco Bell we got pulled over. I stuffed the rest of the chalupa down my throat and lit a cigarette and Jeanie put two pennies in her mouth, some worthless folk remedy that supposedly foiled breathalyzers. I think we both knew that we were going to jail. When the officer (campus police! we were getting arrested by amateurs! unbelievable!) asked Jeanie to step out of the car, our fate was sealed. I lit another cigarette and watched as she did the monkey test. The white letters spelling out “FUCK THE POLICE” on the back of her hoody might as well have said “ARREST ME NOW.” While the officer put Jeanie in handcuffs, his partner came around to my window to offer me a breathalyzer.
“You been drinking tonight ma’am?”
“Nope.” I was never one to shy away from lying to the authorities.
After politely refusing the breathalyzer, they put me in the back of the bacon mobile anyway (filthy pigs!). They took us first to the campus police department, then to the main police station downtown. They asked me numerous times to take the breathalyzer and each time I politely declined. I think I thought I had rights or something. I finally relented when they threatened to keep me in jail for the entire weekend. I blew a…something like a 2.6 or something, I’m not sure. They threw me in the drunk tank along with Jeanie and a woman who claimed to be the Number One Most Wanted Woman in the county. The Number One Most Wanted Woman in the county kept screaming at the guards to give her her meds or she was going to sue the shit out of them. She also spent a lot of time on the toilet, which was basically in the middle of the room, no stall or anything. The Number One Most Wanted Woman in the county is whom I first learned the term “courtesy flush” from, which I think only applies to jail.
I played out almost twelve hours in the drunk tank; Jeanie got out before I did even though her charges were more serious than mine. We spent most of our time singing Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash songs. At one point the guard came over and banged on the door.
“Hey! Shut up in there!” he yelled.
“What are you gonna do, arrest us?”
We were belligerent, we couldn’t believe that the cops had the audacity to throw us in jail for being drunk. At that point in time we didn’t see anything wrong with drunk driving. As long as we got to where we were going and didn’t fuck up our vehicle too badly it was totally fine. When they took my mug shot photo I smiled. The guard responsible for taking the picture shook his head.
“I’ve never seen anyone smile for one a these before,” he said, and he showed me the picture.
He was a nice guy, for a pig. My pigtails were a mess, and the white collared t-shirt I was wearing was stained with beer. The smile on my face made me look insane. I loved it.
When I got out of jail I made it my mission to be as rude to the police as possible. Nevermind that I had been driving five minutes before we got pulled over, my charge was underage drinking and that was bullshit! In just six short months I would be twenty-one and that charge would not even be applicable! As it was I was put on some sort of probation through my school which was somehow, despite it’s ragingly alcoholic greek- and athletics-centric majority, considered a “dry campus”. This meant that in order to remain enrolled in classes I had to go to four (4) AA meetings, two (2) counseling sessions, meet with some sort of guy whose life had been ruined by alcohol, attend a $150 alcohol class, and pay a $300 fine for the charges. At my job at a sandwich shop whenever I saw the boys in blue come in I insisted on taking a break and refused to make any of the food for the popo.
“If I have to make it I’ll spit in it,” I told my manager when he asked me what my beef with the cops was.
The AA meetings were excruciatingly sad. When everyone went around the room and said “Hi, my name is ______, and I’m an alcoholic,” I cringed. How could these people define themselves solely by their addiction? When it was my turn to introduce myself I rejected the adjective, although I felt my cheeks burning as everyone in the room waited for the second part. The people at the AA meetings had heartbreaking stories, and I couldn’t believe some of them. One woman talked about how after she had gotten pregnant she and her husband had stopped drinking, but one day she came home from work and he was drunk and he pushed her down the basement stairs and she lost the baby. I hoped that I would never have any sad stories like that.
The alcohol class was held at the courthouse on a Saturday morning, and I was pleased to see one of my childhood friends in attendance. At least I wouldn’t have to endure what was likely intended to be a long and tedious lecture alone. I was wrong though. There was some lecturing of course, a couple of cops came in and told us some stories about drunk people they had arrested. They told a story about one lady who was driving just fine but they pulled her over for a broken taillight or something and she blew something ludicrous that most people would legally be dead if they blew. They said that she was walking and talking normally, the only reason they tested her was because she smelled like alcohol. The class was supposed to last eight hours, but in the middle of the day the main guy in charge started talking about why he taught the class. He said he taught the class because his daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. He said that today was the anniversary of her death. Then he stopped talking. His eyes were bright with tears.
“You all can go on home now. Class is dismissed early.” he said.
I wondered if he said that at every class. I hoped that he did.
The counseling was possibly the worst of all. I went to counseling through my school, which meant that I met with graduate students who weren’t quite counselors yet. They assigned me to a male who was from Australia. His accent threw me off, and I found myself agreeing to things I didn’t want to agree to. He asked if he could audio record the session and I said yes. What a horrible idea! How can you expect people to open up to you when you’re recording them?! Luckily the charm of his accent had been broken by this heinous request, and when he asked me if I would be okay with video recording the session I vehemently refused. He asked me what my issues were and I told him I had trouble sleeping, that I was in love with a man with abusive tendencies, that I drank too much and did too many drugs. He told me that if I continued on this path I would “skate through life, date a string of abusive men and be a waitress by the time you’re thirty.” I was shocked and disgusted that he would put this bad juju on my life! At the end of the session he told me that if I came back to see him again he would prescribe me sleeping pills. I couldn’t believe it. This man didn’t know what he was doing at all! He didn’t respect my privacy, it didn’t seem to even phase him that he had offered to write a prescription for someone who had just admitted to having substance abuse problems, and he had diagnosed my fate! He couldn’t do that! No one could! Needless to say, I did not go back.
His words stuck with me over the years, though. I would find myself in a less than desirable relationship and think back to the curse he had cast (because of course it couldn’t be my fault!). Anytime I found myself about to take a short cut or avoiding difficult things I would think back to his words and apply myself with diligence and renewed fervor, if only to prove him wrong. Now I am thirty and I have yet to work for money since my birthday almost two months ago. The easy thing to do would be to get a waitressing job: the money is good and I know I can do it. But that fucking wannabe counselor! Maybe his intention all along was to try to get me to prove him wrong, but I just can’t seem to go back to that job…
What started out as a memory of my second arrest has, of course, wound its way up to today…the affects of the past on the future cannot be denied.
Anyway, I hope ya’ll enjoyed this snapshot of my ridiculous past!