Friday, September 17, 2004

Brush with the law, part 3

Technically, this is not a real brush with the law, but I thought it might make for interesting reading nonetheless. This is after I got booted from the community college and was attending the state university. I was twenty-three, and had been out of the Army for almost two years. I worked at a nearby Kmart since the hours were flexible and I was occasionally paid to attack people. I was a restocker, but I got to provide some extra muscle to help store security when situations arose. My frequent involvement also meant I had to spend time down at the county lockup signing papers, arrest warrants, and providing information to the detectives (I got paid for all that too).

Two of the women who worked at Kmart (we'll call them Val and Stephanie, because that's their names) also attended the U. They were in the nursing program, and had their own downtown apartment. I liked Val but found myself more attracted to Stephanie, which worked out well since Val was in a serious relationship anyway. Stephanie stood about my height (5' 10"), had waist-length natural blonde hair and an acerbic wit. I talked to her every chance I got at work (usually brief snippets of conversation) and found she had been working since she was sixteen, she was fearless (having once sold a karaoke machine from the electronics department by cranking it up and belting out a couple of tunes for the prospective buyers), she could give and receive sardonic comments at least as well as me, and she brewed her own beer. Was this woman perfect, or what? I also discovered she had dated a county deputy three years prior, and was only nineteen (I just assumed she was my age). That kind of freaked me out that she had dated an adult at sixteen (by law, police officers had to be at least twenty-one to join the force), but since she did seem mature for her age I decided a five age gap between her and Deputy Boyfriend wasn’t a big deal.

I had wanted to ask Stephanie out since I met her, but I worried about moving too fast and screwing everything up before we had a chance to get to know each other better. Of course, I had to balance that against the possibility that someone else would ask her out before me, and she would say yes, and they would fall in love and get married and I would have to live with the thought of some jerk sleeping with my wife for the rest of my life, until a meteor fell from the sky and squashed me (times like that bring out the worst-case scenario mode in me). Anyway, Stephanie and Val decided to throw a holiday party (Xmas was on the way) and Stephanie invited me, which I thought would be the perfect time to ask her out.

I knew this would be a strange experience for me. All the parties I had previously attended had been populated by metalheads, dope fiends, and frat boys - it was perfectly acceptable (even considered cool) to puke on the floor. People didn't go home from those parties until the next day; there were no arrangements made, you just slept wherever you fell. Ah, the good old days. Anyway, in addition to the lack of drunken yarking, her party was to be a quiet, well-lit affair mainly attended by nursing students and psychology professors since, for unknown reasons, the U lumped psychology, nursing, and my computer science classes in the same building. Side note - I learned that psych professors tend to be loud, smug, and superior narcissists who are the natural death of a party, so don't invite them unless you have to.

I arrived with a bottle of wine (classy), and said Hello to Val and Stephanie. Stephanie set me up with a homemade beer (good and stout), then saw to greeting the new arrivals and operating the kitchen. Naturally, I offered to help but she said she had it under control. I wasn't quite ready to ask her out - I thought that was better saved for when the party was underway and we were having fun, or maybe when things began to wind down and the atmosphere felt more relaxed.

She and Val were the only two people attending the party that I knew, and both were engaged with party details, so I tried to mingle. (If you haven’t already guessed, I’m not a particularly skilled mingler.) I looked around and saw some guy who looked vaguely familiar and also out of place. He was in his 40's, muscular with a red face and short, receding blond hair, wearing a dull brown sweater and a slightly dour expression. He didn't look like college material (professor or student), but I approached him anyway and asked him if he attended the U. He said no, giving me a suspicious look, and demanded to know why I asked.

I told him I thought he looked familiar, to which he loudly responded "If you've seen me, then you must have been doing something wrong." I wasn't sure how to respond to that, but that didn't matter since the nearest noisy professor jumped in, laughing as though it was the best joke he had ever heard, and explained to me that the guy was a deputy sheriff, all while clapping him on the shoulders. Normally it's funny to watch some arrogant brain guy suck up to the police, but I decided I just wanted out of the conversation so I could move on and maybe meet some decent people.

I told Deputy Dickhead about some string of credit card thefts with which I was assisting county (it was true - we had receipts and footage of some serial credit card thief maxing out his latest take, and I had been helping the detectives with statements and records), but his eyes narrowed and I could tell he didn't believe a word I said (his business tends to breed paranoia). Anyway, I excused myself and wandered from group to group, mostly listening and nodding. After several minutes, I got the feeling as though I was being watched (that's right – being tailed at a party). I put some of my retail security training to use (which proved to be better than his deputy training) and saw that he was indeed shadowing me. I'd pretend to look at the fish in the tank, instead looking at the reflected images in the glass and see him hiding behind a potted plant, staring at me. I'd move on to another room and pretend to straighten a picture on the wall, and there he would be behind a coat rack, staring at me. This went on for over an hour.

Alabama has a well-deserved reputation for the harsh treatment of drunk drivers (usually involving jail time on a first offense), and I began to worry that the pig might have been waiting for me to leave so he could bust me for operating a vehicle after sipping a beer. I wondered how I was going to give him the slip, and then Stephanie latched onto him.

Until then, I had been too worried about the cop slowly chasing me around the apartment to make the connection, but then it hit me: he was the guy she dated when she was sixteen. He had to have been at least in his late thirties at the time, probably more like forty. From the looks of things she wanted him back. Cool, mature, sarcastic Stephanie disappeared and was replaced by this giggly little girl that hung on him like a spider monkey. She cooed and rubbed his chest muscles through his sweater, saying things like "Ooh! You're so strong! How long have you been working out?" He mumbled "'Bout...two weeks" in reply, obvious BS. I couldn't believe the whole spectacle. Fortunately, part of my brain still worked so I took the moment slip away.

He would have seen me heading for the front door, so instead I slipped into the smoking room, a small and brightly lit square with only one avenue of approach (no way he could sneak up behind me.) Val and her boyfriend were in there, puffing away, which I thought was kind of strange for Val since she was on the U's dance team. Anyway, I spent another half hour in there watching smokers drift in and out, trying not to breathe too deeply, and feeling kind of devastated about the way things had turned out with Stephanie. But to be honest, I was still more concerned about myself at that point, so I sat and listened to a psych professor suck on his pipe and regale the room with several long-winded collegiate anecdotes about his brilliance. When I thought his tobacco or rhetoric was about to make me puke, I slipped back into the main area and edged toward the door.

I thought I made a clean getaway, but just outside Val called to me and asked if I was leaving already. I claimed I was just getting something from my truck and would brb, then blended into the shadows and waited to see if super cop came after me. He didn't and I drove home without incident.

Val and Stephanie seemed a little peeved that I left their party early and unannounced, but I still thought it was probably the smartest thing to do. Before the party I had told myself that, if I didn't ask Stephanie out, I would regret it the rest of my life. As it happens, I haven't regretted it a bit.

This post was longer and more detailed than I planned; therefore, I will probably receive no comments for it. I guess I'd better post something completely thoughtless, pronto.

Ugh, out

2 comments:

Lor said...

EEW She wanted to date a guy twice her age? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW...

the phantom said...

great post. i only have one point of contention, though. why the hell would a 30 something cop date a 16 year old. completely illegal on several different levels.