An Officer, a young girl and a terrible boyfriend, or: When Bad Gets Worse
I don’t know about you, but when I got arrested, it was for beating the shit out of my boyfriend. Tack on charges like solicitation, possession, public nudity, terrorism, and overdue library fines and you’ve got a nice sample of what people guessed might have happened. It was none of these things, or maybe all of these things, but I’ve labeled it under Mischief-Making Gone Horribly (Horribly!) Awry.
I can tell you that handcuffs do hurt, riding in the back seat of a cop car is humiliating, sobbing will not help, and police officers do not care if you are funny. They won’t acknowledge your tears, and they won’t laugh at your jokes, in part because their hearts are some kind of impenetrable metal fortress that only Battlestar Galactica can bust through. My cop was like Bishop from the Alien franchise: clean, efficient, and completely without personality. He was also aggressively bland, in a silent, suburban way that made me avoid eye contact with him. I decided he was beyond generic, and dubbed him Officer Cop. ‘Great, I’ve been arrested by the cop equivalent to a used pet rock,’ I thought. This guy would be more intimidating if he looked like Willem Dafoe, not Dwight from The Office.
The police station was non-descript and creepy; I don’t know what I expected, but I was hoping for more flair. We pulled up in total darkness, and my heart went KER-THUMP. There was an unmarked, dirt-streaked white door with handprints all over it, and I made the Blair Witch connection almost instantly, shivering in the cold. The cop made me wait under a flickering street lamp, right outside the door, which managed to make the place seem more Freddy Krueger-friendly and less like a place where justice is served. I turned to Officer Cop and said, “Is this a secret entrance or something? Kinda creepy.” He looked at me, shrugged, and said, “Sure, whatev.” I gave him my best glare. Was it so much to ask that he entertain me before getting hauled into the slammer?
There were actually no jail cells, just small rooms with no windows; the lighting was unfriendly, which matched the pea green paint color. I entered the room and sat down, on a cold cement bench, next to a hooker named Amy.
Amy: Hi, I’m Amy.
Me: So what’re you in for? Or is that weird to ask? Oh god, it’s weird to ask.
Amy: Umm…it’s okay. You know: this an’ that.
Amy looked embarrassed, which piqued my interest. I tried looking neutral, imagining bunnies and sunshine and a potentially amazing jail story I could someday tell my friends. I focused on the cement floor, feigning disinterest.
Amy: I was with a gentleman friend tonight in my car and was caught.
Me: Is that a nice way of saying you’re a hook—um, an escort?
Amy: Ha! I like that one. “Escort.”
Me: My personal favorite is ‘lady of the evening.’
Amy: Oooh, fancy.
I felt like a nervous freak. Here I was, talking with a real! live! whore! and all I could think of was how idiotic I must sound to her, how redneck-y and small. I also worried that invisible skank spores were infecting me through our close proximity, and tried breathing away from her, in case she was extra toxic. I know you can’t get AIDS this way, but I don’t know if it’s the same for being a rundown ho; I just needed to avoid it. I’d make a terrible prostitute.
Me: Oh, uh, heh. Sorry. Um, when I get nervous – or well, really just anytime, really – I just tack on the word ‘pants’ to whatever word—
Amy: You say something-something-pants?
Me: Well, right now it’s just because I’m nervous, see.
Amy: So I could say ‘bus’ and you’d say—
Me: See, that’s not a great example because ‘buspants’ isn’t cute; it just reminds me of being on the bus, which is gross.
Amy: Yeah, I love my car.
Amy: So what are you in for?
Me: (nervously) Fancypants.
Right in the nick of time, Officer Cop walked in. I’d never been happier to see The Stoic Mask of Blah in my entire life. I jumped up, ready to face the music.
Cop: Okay, it’s time to talk for a bit.
Me: (sigh) No, see, you have to—certain words don’t—never mind.
Our conversation consisted of him asking me boring questions, over and over again, trying to see if my story would change. At one point I called my boyfriend, said some very terse words that the officer smirked at, and asked for a glass of water. If they were going to keep me there all night, I would not die from dehydration; I would most likely die from the tacky paint color covering their office walls like a disease. Turns out Officer Cop loved stories about my boyfriend, so I kept him entertained all night while he filled out my paperwork.
Cop: What kind of guy doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift?
Me: I know. I told him he wasn’t a man or an American.
Cop: You told him he wasn’t a man or an American because he can’t drive a stick?
Me: Well. Yeah.
Cop: Wow. That’s harsh.
Me: I know, right?
I was sitting at his desk in the station, and this drunken frat boy walked by in handcuffs with another cop. He nodded to me with familiarity, and I froze in return. I thought, Oh fuck – do I now belong to some underground club for miscreants? Is there a secret handshake? Did he recognize the felon in me? [At this juncture, my lawyer would like to point out that I am not a felon, was not arrested on felony charges, and that I paid my debt to society. Thank you.] The dude in handcuffs was a regular bro, but not someone who would ever acknowledge the likes of me. It was unnerving.
He walked back from being fingerprinted and yelled, “HUSKIES RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULE!” I leaned to the side of my desk and yelled after him, “GO COUGS!” because my brothers went to WSU and I have a sense of propriety about these things. He looked back at me, drunk and hurt. I felt bad for breaking our felonious bond.
Officer Cop drove me home. As he dropped me off, he asked if I had learned my lesson, but it was 4 A.M. and – truthfully – I hadn’t learned anything except to get arrested around dinnertime if you want to be in bed by midnight. I was also a bit put off by his parental tone; where was the robotic camaraderie we’d come to enjoy? It was abrupt at our drop-off point, and cold. He said, “If this works out the right way and you keep your nose out of trouble, we won’t have to see each other ever again, and that’s a good thing.” What about if I apply for the police academy and we end up being partners? I asked, annoyed. “That, I hope, will never happen,” he replied, driving off in the night. I haven’t seen him since.
I walked upstairs, completely overwhelmed by the evening I had barely survived. I paused outside of my apartment door, knowing I would break down in tears the minute I opened it. I gave myself a minute to reflect, and thought, ‘Well, at least I can drive a stick.’ Towards mischief, one hopes.