Arrested Development

Since we’re all friends here I thought today might be a nice time to tell you about a brush with the law I had a little over a decade ago. You see, I consider myself a pretty law abiding citizen these days. I mean, it’s The Law, right?  So I try to respect it.  I mean this hands-free headset cell phone thing does irritate me and even though Oprah is all over it, I’m still finding it a very bitter pill to swallow. That said I drive in the mostly no phone zone, even though it bugs me, but that is a product of age, I think.  Because my 21 year old self was not quite so level headed about The Law.

Once during the LA Years I got pulled over for not having a front license plate and subsequently was given a fix it ticket. But “fixing it” was going to cost me somewhere in the realm of $50 and I was sort of pissed at this. That was money that I could have been spending on important things like booze and tacos  and stuff. I certainly wasn’t going to spend it on some mounting thingamajig so that I could affix my license plate to it. I didn’t even know where that plate was anyhow, since it had been like that since I bought the damn car so why don’t you go give the dealership a fix it ticket, Officer Shut-Your-Face.  Also – I was single. And I wasn’t really skilled at the whole Art of Affixing Things. I mean, even if I was willing to spend $50 at an Auto Parts Store (which I wasn’t) what the hell would I do with it when I got home? (No idea.) I was living with A Diva and A Gay Man, and while we threw FANTASTIC parties, there were not a lot of handy people in that house, you know?

So I ignored it, obviously. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do at the time. I had other things to think about and I’ll tell you what, none of those things were license plates.  I got a follow up letter about it, and I think I may have possibly put it in my stack of papers to look at later. Maybe it got thrown away, I don’t really know, organization at that time was also not my strong suit. And I think another letter or two may have come in the mail but I didn’t really pay attention that stuff – you know booze, tacos, whatnot – remember? These things  were important! Not some silly letter.  But then one day a letter came that I did end up paying attention to because it mentioned things like COURT DATES and WARRANTS FOR MY ARREST.

And holy shitballs, that was pretty important.  So I went to court.

The judge was actually pretty nice. I was honest (you know, without mentioning the booze or the tacos) and I think he probably thought I was a giant spoiled douchebag that needed to learn a new filing system or something (and I probably was) but he let me go if I was willing to pay the fine and, of course, actually fix it. You are probably not surprised at this point to find out that I drove to court that day (months later!) in a car that STILL didn’t have a front license plate. Man, some days I weep for my former self.   Anyway, all was well and good until I got to the little window outside of the courtroom and found out this “little” fine that I would have to pay was something to the tune of $700. Um…do you know how many tacos that can buy?

So — lesson learned the hard way and all that. I wish I could say that is the only lesson I had to learn the hard way, but alas your 20s last an entire decade, don’t they? Among other things, this whole incident has now given me an irrational fear of the fix-it ticket and its potentially unforeseen financial consequences. You could probably argue that a normal person would have seen those financial consequences coming and so I have nothing to worry about, but I admitted that the fear was irrational, okay? Let me be.   Anyway I’ve obviously straightened things out over the last decade and things like that are a distant and laughable memory, but I still have The Fear.  And for the last few years I’ve been driving Garrett’s second car and wouldn’t you know it, it’s an old car that was a hand me down from his grandma and when we got it, it didn’t have a front license plate.

“We need to fix that STAT!” I told him the day we got the car, and many days since. (See, at least I learn from my mistakes.) But of course he insisted that I’m being insanely paranoid since he has driven a car for 13 years without a front license plate (apparently they aesthetically offensive to some, who knew?) and never been pulled over, and of course he always reminds me this is Sacramento and not Los Angeles, and Gee Whiz Holly…don’t get yourself all worked up and crazy about it, we will get around to fixing it some point, and ….WELL GEE WHIZ BUCKO, GUESS WHO GOT A CRAZY FIX IT TICKET FOR THEIR EFFING CAR AND THEIR LACK OF AN EFFING FRONG LICENSE PLATE THIS AFTERNOON?

I’ll give you one guess cuz I’m nice like that.

I’m so ri-DONK-ulously irritated that I got the ticket because it totally could have been prevented, but also because – Hey Mr. CHP, aren’t there like REAL criminals you could be going after? The worst part of the whole thing though is that I had to sit, pulled over, looking like a criminal on the side of the road right in front of my super duper dream house and of course they came home while I was sitting there.  Of course they did.  And so did their neighbors actually.  And you know at least one of them thinks I’m some sort of scoundrel now.  I wanted to lean out the window shout “Garrett is the scoundrel! The scoundrel that wouldn’t fix my license plate!” right as they pulled into their garage, but I didn’t.  I just kept mum until the officer wrote out my ticket and then when he handed it over to me I said Thank you. THANK YOU! Gah, I hate myself for saying that. I’m not thankful, yet I still said thank you even though I had sat there for like 10 minutes in the car reminding myself over and over to make sure that I DIDN’T say thank you when he handed it over.

But the silver lining in all of that is that I’m secretly feeling a bit Smuggy McSmuggerson because GUESS WHO WAS TOTALLY RIGHT? Right. Right. Right.  I am so Right.  And totally NOT paranoid! BOO YAH! And if you haven’t already guessed that I made a super-illegal-apologies-to-Oprah, “I Told You So” phone call to Garrett as soon as I pulled away from that curb and out of that CHP’s eyesight, well then, you may not know me at all.

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