Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hate the Police

As a skater and punk rocker I had to hate cops. It just sort of went with the territory.

Honestly I didn't really have too much against them, other than just generally disliking them in principle as yet another set of authority figures keeping me from doing what I wanted. Usually they'd half-heartedly yell at me and my friends for skating somewhere, we'd leave, wait for them to drive away, then come back. They probably didn't care.

Besides, this was Bradenton, it's not like I was getting beaten by the LAPD. And I'd like to think that I was smart enough to realize that many of my problems with them (and most authority figures) had more to do with me wanting to bad stuff and them having to put a stop to it than anything they were actively doing to keep me down.

Every once in a while, though, you'd run into some real dicks.

I was about 17 and parked at the beach with my girlfriend around 10 or 11 PM. This was a regular thing for us since we desired privacy and didn't have an apartment, and I drove a 1977 Lincoln Continental whose backseat was about the size of one of those Japanese love hotels.

I was probably playing something romantic, like that live Bauhaus album "Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape." Man, I wish I still had that - "Rose Garden Funeral of Sores" was all kinds of awesome. And you know, for a band that was pegged as gothic and depressing, Bauhaus had some kick ass songs  - "In the Flat Field?" "Dark Entries?" Those songs kick ass. And while we're at it, while that first Joy Division album is supposed to be all depressing, there's some rock jams on that, too. Is "Novelty" on that one? You know, "When people listen to you.."

Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah. So the music was working and we were in the backseat. We weren't actually having actual sex sex yet, but second base had definitely been rounded.Things were going pretty well.

Then there was a metallic tap, tap, tap on the backseat window.

"Shit! This is just like those stories where the hook-hand guy comes back from the dead to kill the teenagers having sex on the Indian burial ground," I thought, reasonably enough.

Within seconds of the tap, as I was trying to remember how the kids outwitted the hook-hand killer, the entire back seat was illuminated by a high powered flashlight being held by an angry looking policeman. Actually the beam was mostly focused on my girlfriend's chest.
"Step out of the car," a voice commanded. "Now."

The cop continued to shine his light on us. Well, mostly on her, as she scrambled to put on her shirt.
I got out of the car wearing only a pair of shorts.

"What are you two doing here," the cop asked. "Do you know I could arrest you right now for public nudity and lewd and lascivious activity?"

"No sir, I...No. I mean, I didn't. No."

"Do you want to go to jail tonight?

"No, sir."

"How much money do you have on you?"


"How much money do you have?"

"About three dollars."

That was true. I pulled out my pocket to show him. For some reason I never carried a wallet in those days, preferring my bills all wadded up in my pocket Spicoli style.

"Get out of here and don't let me catch you here again," he said, as he glanced back towards the backseat, I guess in hopes that my girlfriend had decided to keep her shirt off during this conversation.

My hands were shaking as I got back in the car. "I think that cop just tried to get a bribe from me," I said to my girlfriend, more astonished than angry. After the initial shock wore off, I had lots of plans of reporting him and getting him fired, or writing a stirring letter to the paper, letting the people know just what the police force was up to on Anna Maria Island. Of course, I'd have to change some minor details. Like, maybe we were having a fully clothed picnic on the beach. In the daytime.

"They can't do that to me," I ranted. "I'm an American. What is this, the Gestapo? The KGB? Luckily, I got his badge number. Yeah, he didn't count on that. Let's see...there was a 45 in there...Was there an R?"
Naturally, I didn't end up doing anything, and we ended up finding another place to park at night.

One of my friends would relate this story to his friends in college later, employing the "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" maxim from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. In his version, the cop made me do push-ups and recite the Pledge of Allegiance before letting me go. I sort of wish that happened, as it makes a much better story than me driving off shaking and dreaming up revenge fantasies for a couple weeks until I moved on to other distractions.

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