In which we are told we can have anything we want.*
*Certain conditions may apply.
My encounters with police officers have largely been, if not pleasant, then at least hassle-free. It helps that I’m friendly, polite, and never in my life more caucasian than when I talk to a cop. I think most cops are pretty decent dudes.
Sadly, the cops I remember most clearly aren’t the officers who’ve helped me when I was in a jam, or even those who had to deal with me when I’d done wrong and had it coming, but rather the jerks who wore their authority like a crown and acted like thugs for no reason other than that they could, the bullies and punks getting off on the power of their station.
It was my displeasure to meet a particularly shitty cop on November 5th, 2002.¹ I’d left my job and apartment in Beaverton, Oregon to bum around the country by rail, and now found myself in Chicago’s historic Union Station, notable for the “baby carriage” scene in The Untouchables.
Filthy and bedraggled, I wander into the men’s restroom to clean up. Union Station is an Amtrak hub, so the bathroom is busy, but I manage to find sink space next to a wretched-looking homeless dude–a black guy with wild, unkempt hair and an eye-watering aroma. His emaciated hands and head jut twig-like from an artificially bulky frame, created by layer upon layer of filthy clothing. He yammers ceaselessly as he washes what appears to be several pairs of socks.
When the guy says “Can I have those socks?” I think at first that it’s just another facet of his apparently unending dialogue with God. But when he says it again, I realize he’s talking to me. He’s looking down at the open travel bag at my feet, atop which lie several pairs of clean socks.
After a span of time that seems longer than it probably is, I reach down to grab a pair socks, and hand it to him. “Here you go.” “Thanks, Brother” he says, and his ongoing conversation–which fortunately, no longer includes me–begins again. Not long after that, he gathers up his things, including his new socks, and wanders off to a stall.
I have just about forgotten about him when the cop comes rumbling in, his black and yellow police windbreaker flashing in the mirror just before our eyes meet. His small shaven head, bullet-shaped, with its tiny piggish eyes and ridiculously oversized mustache is poorly matched to his expansive, well-fleshed body.
“Whaddaya doin’?” he asks, and not at all nicely. My stomach tightens as I turn to face him. There is a uniformed cop behind him.
“Shaving,” I tell him.
“Shaving.” He spits the word back at me like an accusation. Then: “You sure you weren’t washing your feet?”
I tell him I wasn’t, and because this situation is so intense and because the cop is still smirking under his mustache and because I don’t know what else to say, I say “Jeez.” It is the wrong thing to say.
“JEEZ?” he says, seeming to swell as he steps toward me, either side of his mustache punctuated by the edges of a feral smile, and just like that I am fucking terrified.
Then the uniformed cop says something and points down to the stalls. I do not have to know what he said to know where he is pointing, and at whom. As they both charge off in that direction, the bald cop’s little head swivels to face me and, not stopping, he says, “Sorry.” It is a reflex, a word completely devoid of meaning, and he cares not a bit whether I know it. Then he is gone, carried along on a wave of black anger.
“WALTER!” he bellows at the homeless man in the stall, “Get your fuckin’ ass out here, you goof! You’re goofy, you know that?”
Suddenly awash in a rush of relief that feels an awful lot like shame, I slink out of the bathroom, but not quickly enough to miss the firecracker bang of a locked stall door shattering under the force of a boot.
Man, you have no idea how many times I find myself saying or thinking that.
Have a great weekend, folks!
15-year-old girl caught stripping for the 2nd time ~ You think THAT’S bad? We heard that last year a 14-year-old was caught stripping at the same place!
Why Wasn’t West Virginia Better Prepared for Massive Spill? ~ Look, if those cretinous hillbillies can’t get their heads around indoor plumbing, don’t you think that expecting them to tackle a massive environmental disaster is asking a bit much?
The Science Behind Bigfoot and Other Monsters ~ Is called “junk science.”
What would it take for Justin Bieber to get deported? ~ An ugly sort of populism more at home in Nazi Germany than in the US of A.
What You Should NEVER Say To a Fibromyalgia Patient ~ “Oh, yeah–I had a crazy aunt who had one of those made-up diseases, too.”
‘Tits McGee': Growing Up With Big Boobs ~ It distracts a little from the very serious nature of your subject when you tag your headline with one of the all-time funniest nicknames ever created for an amply-endowed lass. However, it’s perfectly understandable that you don’t appreciate the appellation’s amusing nature, as we imagine that even after all these years you still fail to see the humor in it.
My Dad Will Never Stop Smoking Pot ~ Son, Daddy uses this forum to write silly jokes about the headlines to news stories he can’t be bothered to read. I appreciate you voicing your concerns, but we’ll talk about this a little later in private–okay, Sport?
HumanBrainCellsMakeMiceSmarter ~ But lacking opposable thumbs, they still can’t work the damn space bar on the keyboard.
Absolutely, positively, no “Friends” reunion in the works ~ The proof of a kind and loving God is everywhere, if you only look for it.
Lance Armstrong Tells Oprah Winfrey Why He Doped ~ “Well, you see, Oprah, I made a lot more money when I won races, and the boys in R&D crunched some numbers and they discovered that I seemed to win more races when I was a chemically enhanced super-human. So, really–it was kind of a no-brainer.”
NJ teen dies after sticking head out of a party bus ~ The Garden State mourns one of its best & brightest.
Playboy: Still Sexist After All These Years ~ And sexism has no place in the protein-starched pages of a men’s pornographic magazine!
Suspect Showed Cool During Inquiry ~ Said a police spokesperson: “We knew pretty early on that anyone that cool just couldn’t be guilty.”
Passion for vodka kills Russian men in their thousands ~ “Passion for vodka” is a delightfully poetic way to describe Russia’s endemic alcoholism.
What Students With ADHD Want to Tell Their Teachers ~ “I had a turtle once, but it died. Wanna ride bikes?”
Bullard Says Downturn Hardest on Young, Less-Educated Families ~ It’s unfortunate, but hardly surprising when you consider that about the only thing made easier for stupid people is public school.
Cee-Lo Green pleads not guilty to charge of giving woman ecstasy ~ Smaktakula is a married man, and hasn’t given a woman ecstasy in years.
How much Neanderthal DNA do you have? Lots ~ “Jesus, Frank–there has GOT to be a better way to say that. Look, I had a couple of really unfortunate encounters during my time-travel adventures in the Pleistocene Era, and all I want to do right now is take a shower and try to forget about it.”
Why Mom’s Time Is Different From Dad’s Time ~ Because dad’s time is important.
Mexico ‘monster truck’ crash kills eight at air show ~ Okay, but the SECOND saddest thing about this story is that Mexican AIR shows feature monster trucks.
Ex-Marlboro man dies from smoking-related disease in SLO ~ Wow–how ironic. That’s what we’d be saying if this weren’t the exact opposite of something which is ironic.
Blyth Mum Spends £3,000 On Pink Baby Accessories – Then Has A Boy! ~ Well, if our understanding of heritable traits is correct, he’ll likely be a profoundly stupid boy.
Miley Cyrus Goes Braless For Cosmo ~ Cosmo Krystalos is her meth connection.
Never Forget: Benjamin Franklin Was Into MILFs ~ Why would we forget that? The Founding Father’s legendary lust for tail is unquestionably the most interesting thing about the man.
What Jane Austen Teaches Us About Economics ~ That it’s boring and outdated?
Just Because He Breathes : Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son ~ If you haven’t learned to “truly love” your son well before he reaches an age at which he expresses a sexual preference, then you might suck a little at momming and dadding.
African refugees in Italy ‘told to go to Germany’ ~ “Uh, we’re immigrants, not idiots. We like it here just fine.”
Wild Bees Won’t Survive in a Human-Dominant World ~ Please. We’ve rocked this mud-ball for millennia, and bees have done all right up until now.
Double-transplant patient loses legs ~ They’re not your fucking car keys, dude! Somebody went to a lot of trouble to get you those legs, and the least you can do is keep an eye on them.
“‘Short-man syndrome’ is real ~ Given the tragic and debilitating nature of their shared genetic curse, we think it’s a remarkable display of perseverance most mornings for these nasty little creatures even to come skulking from their filthy dens into the bright light of day.
I first posted this a year ago tomorrow, and I expect a lot of you have already seen it. However, it’s something I believe fiercely, and it seems as appropriate now as it did then. Remember, we only get one trip through life*, so do it the best you can.
*Excepting, of course, Hindus and other faiths whose beliefs incorporate reincarnation. But even in those instances, you’ve still got a vested interest in getting it right. Nobody wants to come back as a flatworm.
Originally posted on Promethean Times:
In which a conclusion is drawn, many “umms” and “y’knows” are uttered, and the author’s resemblance to Greta Van Susteren becomes painfully obvious.
Mama said wisely, “A boy gets to be a man when a man is needed. Remember this thing. I have known boys forty years old because there was no need for a man.”
Of all that is written I love only what a man has written with his blood. Write with blood, and you will experience that blood is spirit.
What cannot be cured must be endured.
The Crush: It wasn’t love, but it was something like it; a one-sided stage rehearsal for the real thing. I ached for you; you know that now. It made me laugh a little to find out years later it would have been mine for the taking, if only I’d mustered the courage to ask. You taught me, belatedly, to take a chance on great things.
The Choir Girl: I’m sorry for how I was–not bad, but not good, either. You deserved better and you found it. I could have learned a lot from you if I’d been willing to listen.
The English Department Darling: Just about the time I thought maybe I could love you it was over. You broke up with me for a reason neither of us really understood, launching a misguided comeback attempt a few months later when it was already too late. All these years later, and you’re still alone. You taught me that life is too short for games.
The Freshman: You were special, and I didn’t take the time to see that. About the only thing I can say in my defense is that I didn’t set out to break your heart. I can’t change what I did, but I can bring my boys up to hopefully be better men than their father. You taught me to be less capricious with my affections, and I’m sorry the lesson was so hard-learned.
The First Love: I’d known lots of girls before you, but I’d never loved them. I still feel warm when I think of you. You taught me to love hard and to love without reservation. You taught me that some mistakes are forever.
The Accountant: Such a straight-arrow. Laces tied and corners trimmed. Still, you gave me freedom; your only rule for me was “Don’t be high around my parents,” and I never was–they were very kind to me. It didn’t work out, but we’re still friends, and you were so very good for me. You taught me what it was to be an adult.
The Playwright: A first-class muse and a beast in the sack, you taught me to trust myself as a writer and how a lot of hustle can make a little talent go a very long way. I couldn’t make you happy, though, and you taught me that I need a girl who is happy on her own. You’re married now and have a child. I hope you’re happy; I really do.
My Wife: The best of the bunch, and the true beneficiary of all those lessons I learned along the way. I met you when I was seventeen years old, before any of the others. All these years later, you’re still here. My patient, beautiful, loving angel. You are so much more than I deserve.
Sometimes, when you mention a grievance or accomplishment, large or small, some would-be-funnyman will pipe up, “Do you want a medal or something?”
Next time this happens, tell him, “You’re goddamn right I want a medal. Let’s have it!”
Then, when he inevitably stumbles in his reply, tell him, “Your problem is that you make promises on which you have no intention of delivering. That makes you a liar and a scoundrel. Good day to you, Sir!”