Sunday, January 13, 2008


As a Honda owner (and now my lovely wife with the purchase of her new CRV), we take pride in our vehicles. Sure I know it might not look like it all the time--I usually wash mine once every two years. But make no mistake: I love my car. I'm pretty sure my lovely wife loves her because she washes it weekly.

Yesterday, I'm playing Nintendo NES on the couch (wireless, baby) waiting on my lovely wife to arrive so we can go shop. Not my favorite pasttime, but 75% off at Old Navy was a little hard to pass up because I'm a cheapass and, normally, I can find something that fits my large frame at Old Navy and we needed to get my lovely wife a ski jacket because, yes, she's learning in March at Taos. Yada yada.

I see the front of my lovely wife's CRV pass my view through the window and then I hear it...


I spring from the sofa and look out the window to see a red Civic pinned right into the side of my lovely wife's CRV--a CRV that's still about two weeks old. I fly out the front door and, under a pretty good assumption of what happened, I point at this kid hopping out of the Civic and say, "You were going to fast, bro." He stands there like someone smacked him with the dummy bat. I go over to check on my lovely wife. She's fine. Pretty low impact on her except for the shock of getting hit. She's a champ like that. When we were dating, I saw Danny wrestle her playfully to the ground and she hit her head hard--no, hawd. Girl col' walked it off. No, wait, I think she laid there for a few moments and then walked it off. Either way, my lovely wife's tough. She jumps out of planes.

My wife hops and immediately goes into business mode. I keep this kid (we'll call him "Johnny" because that's his name) talking because I'm afraid he's gonna try and book on us. Dude was just a little shifty. I check out the his Civic and the bumper's all broken and dented in. I check out the CRV and, what the hell, I look three times for the damage and then get down on my knees and look closely and see a small scuff and some paint scraped. This thing is a tank!

Okay so it wasn't that bad, but the Yellow Police Department needs record of the accident. I hop on the phone quickly and call the police. It's the right thing to do. Remember that: it's the right thing to do. Look, my lovely wife and I don't have anything to hide. I just don't want this kid to skate and then, two weeks down the road, he's trying to pin it on us.

I start talking to Johnny as we wait for Yellow's finest to show. I start with small talk:

What year is your Civic?
Are you in school?
Did you grow up around here?

All real questions that I don't really care of the answer. I'm just trying to keep him talking so he doesn't start going the "I-heard-if-no-one's-hurt-the-cops-don't-need-record-of-it" route. He kept talking, but I knew that I was going to have to find a new line of questions because Johnny wasn't really feeling my conversation (which is unusual). He asks, "How long do you think before the cops show up?" I tell him to hang tight.

I then start thinking my best course of action is to start dumbing the conversation down. Keep him engaged. Turns out, I gotta pretty good character sketch of our Johnny once I dumbed it down. Between my lovely wife and I, here are some of the facts about our boy Johnny.

Johnny's been in six wrecks in five years.
Johnny drove when he was 16 with an expired learner's permit as opposed to just going to get his license.
Johnny was involved in an accident in which he was hit and the other car fled.
Johnny chased this lady down and became irate and was written a ticket for disorderly conduct.
Johnny has family in Tyler and once he visited and his uncle was getting drunk shooting his shotgun.
Johnny's got a friend who has four DWI's and has been in five accidents.
Johnny's got a snake that he needed to get mice for.
Johnny's going to the community college and is majoring in "General Studies." Ha.
Johnny just turned 21.
Once, while in Tyler, Johnny hung out with some guys that would go on "Booze Cruises."
Johnny, as a youngblood, would hang out at the schoolground up the street and egg passing cars.
Johnny recently got in an argument with a "crazy black man" who was yelling at him from the side of the road. Johnny got out and confronted him.
Johnny just got his car out of the body shop. Among the repaired damages, a dent given to him by a friend who punched his car.
Johnny uses snuff now but he really wanted a cigarette while we conversed.
Johnny lives at home with his parents but he wants to buy a house with his best friend.
Johnny doesn't have a job.
Johnny once gave a ride to a "Mexican guy" who seemed nice and, two days later, appeared in the news because he stabbed a man to death. Johnny still insists that he "seemed cool."
Johnny thinks gas costs $2.00 a gallon. I corrected him.
Johnny is going to study "Western Hemisphere Literature" next semester. I should've told him that doesn't mean "western" as in "John Wayne." And the study of literature actually requires you to read.
Johnny has no respect for his father.
Johnny has spent time in the Youth Detention Center.
Johnny has also spent at least one night in jail.

At this point, given his quite colorful accounts, I thought we need to hold this kid here because he could have warrants, he might be a felon. My lovely wife, at this time, was inside mopping floors. Nice when the accident happens right in front of your house.

I keep making calls into the police department, politely requesting another officer be dispatched because, at this point, it's an hour and a half later. My lovely wife keeps coming out and non-verbally hinting that maybe we should just take the pictures, get all the info and be on our way. Her and I were starving. I non-verbally communicate back to her, "No way in hell." We continue to stand there on the sidewalk talking about stupid stuff. I'm losing all ability to speak, think, comprehend. Johnny's quite literally sucking the smart out of me. His conversation was a vacuum in which all my cool (what little I have left at 30 years old), my brains and my hipness were yanked from my being. I would challenge anyone to try and hold a conversation with a halfwit for an hour and a half. I call the police department again. They advise me to stay put because the "third-shifters" have just left and someone should arrive shortly.


"So, Johnny, who would be your Republican presidential candidate?"

Finally, a cruiser rounds the corner--now an hour and forty-five minutes later. The police officer hops out and begins assessing the scene. He says that he's not going to write Johnny a ticket, but rather just write up an incident report and then let everyone go on their way. What the?! Somehow, I knew loose-lip Johnny was going to blow it. Sure enough, he did.

Johnny asked to borrow my phone again which he had been using to communicate with his father. He says, "Yeah, the cop is here now. I'll be home in a second."

See, officers are aloud to call themselves "cops" but regular citizens are not really encouraged to call them "cops." It's kinda like the horrid "n-word." I thought I had found another word to say besides the "n-word." I need to check previous posts.

Johnny left with ticket for failure to control speed. Probably didn't hurt that the woman he hit used to work at the prison and now works at the youth detention center.

No telling what happens to guys like Johnny. I mean, he came and left with a handshake and an apology: "I'm sorry I inconvenienced you two." It was a fair enough ending to what was a more painful experience than it should have ever been. Johnny sped off to go get those mice. Probably no better or worse off. He left me deeply impacted (and subtracted). A sweet kid with a good arm for throwing eggs at passing motorists. A darling spirit with a horrible driving record and a disorderly conduct charge. Chances are pretty good that, in about ten months, he's going to meet someone else standing at the front of his dented Civic bumper. I can only hope they get to know the Johnny I met yesterday.

On a completely unrelated note, I was listening to Fear of a Black Planet up at work on Friday on vinyl and while I was introducing the second half of the record to my new cubemate Sergio, I mentioned that the second half of the record is like a thirty-minute sprint that doesn't stop. I flip the record over and, sure as shit, when you look at the arrangement of grooves in the record there is not one solitary break in the grooves. It's a full-on half-hour assault of sound. Incredible.

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