I find it kind of sad that Spring Break 2013 is winding down, and with it, the opportunity to pump out blogs like nobody’s business. You might be relieved (thank God, no more proctologist stories or tales of his children), but I’m going to miss it. On a positive note, with this blog, I will be just three short of my goal for the year – I’m hoping I can handle that in the upcoming eight months.
One of the things about getting old is that some of your stories come back around. This story has been one of my favorites for years, and recently has been seen by a bigger audience – you’ll see what I mean.
Today’s tale takes us back to the summer of 1996. I was freshly out of high school, and visiting my hometown of South Holland, IL. Plans were made for a night on the town with my good buddy Chaddy Stu, and his friend Greg. Now mind you, most stories that involve me and Chaddy Stu end up in trouble, even if he tucks his tail and flees the scene. There’s something about young Chaddy Stu that invites trouble. See, Stu was (is) one of those kids that runs his mouth all the time. I think it’s a self-defense mechanism – I mean, the guy is 6’3” and weighs 150-ish at the most. He needs to talk big to make it in a man’s world. Seriously – the dude’s legs are literal toothpicks. Here’s proof:
Anyway, when the fellas pulled up, the red and blue flashing lights might as well have followed them. Greg pulled out three ski masks, and suggested we take a ride over into Indiana to play miniature golf (or, as Michganders ridiculously refer to it as, Putt-Putt) with them on. Now, normally I wouldn’t do such a… who am I kidding. I was in from the start. This was especially true because I had been itching to try this since my high school social studies teacher, Mr. Ford, had recommended walking around the mall with ski masks on just to see what happened. He told us to call it an experiment in psychology – and to calmly tell security that we had done nothing wrong if they approached us, and that we were being judged by our looks. Sagely advice, it turns out.
So we donned our masks and drove off into the August night. Most everyone we encountered found our masks funny – we got a lot of nods, waves, and laughs. Then we arrived at the golf course, and the masks were all but forgotten.
I’d like to tell you that I won that game… in fact, I probably did, because Chaddy Stu always sucked at mini-golf, and I can’t remember how Greg played. So, let’s try that again. I scorched the other guys in mini-golf, we took a spin on the go-karts, and we strolled back to the car. As we were walking, we noticed a HUGE policeman talking to some people on the other end of the parking lot. Huge as in biceps the size of my leg. Huge as in Arnold’s weighlifting buddy. Huge as in we actually said the words, “Whoa, it would suck to get pulled over by that cop!” Then, we got back into the car and headed off to quench the competitive fire with some Dairy Queen.
Just before we arrived at DQ, we remembered our ski masks. “Wouldn’t it be funny if we went through drive-thru with ski masks on?” one of us asked. I mean, honestly, it’s drive-thru! All they have to do is shut the window! We were acting responsibly by going drive-thru instead of into the restaurant. What could possibly go wrong?
So we slid on the masks for one last run.
As we turned into the DQ, one of those giant family vans was turning out. The wife looked at us in abject horror while the kid in the back window looked ready to cry. We cheerfully waved back at them. Why wouldn’t we be cheerful? We were about to eat ice cream! Huzzah!
The drive-thru went smoothly – we ordered, and Greg held his hand, flush with cash, out the window as he drove forward. They employee gave us a strange look, but gave us our ice cream. Success. Just about the time I removed the lid from my Oreo Blizzard, red and blue lights started flashing behind us.
Pshh… Whatevs. We hadn’t done anything wrong. I casually directed another spoonful of vanilla and chocolate wafer-y goodness into my mouth. I was unafraid. We waited. And waited. And waited. And then, the second cop car pulled up.
Two cops emerged from their vehicles. Wouldn’t you know it, muscly man was one of them. Ye gods, he was much larger up close than from across the parking lot. Man was HUGE. The other cop was more “friendly” sized – he was the type we could jump if things started going downhill… wait, we hadn’t done anything wrong! Why was I even thinking that? Lil’ cop came to the passenger side of the vehicle, where Chaddy Stu was up front and I was in back. Meathead went to Greg’s side, and told us, in no uncertain terms, to “GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE, NOW!”
We got out. And this is where the story diverges, depending on who is telling it. If Chaddy Stu is telling the story, he stands strong in the face of withering pressure from the cops – he is nonchalant and tells the cops off. Luckily, I am here to tell the real version of the story. We get out of the car, and lil’ cop starts scolding us. He told us that the people in the van found his partner, and told him of a robbery in progress at the DQ. He said that because of our shenanigans, two cops were off the street that needed to be patrolling (or chatting people up whilst flexing at the miniature golf course – though I held my tongue – for now). I looked over at Stu, and he was nodding his head, all apologetic for the wrongs THAT WE HADN’T COMMITTED!!! On the other side of the car, Musclycop was ripping into Greg – dropping bombs while Greg cowered in fear. My anger began to rise. We hadn’t done anything wrong… nothing at all!!!
Then, lil’ cop gave me an opening. “What were you guys even thinking?”
“Well, my social studies teacher suggested that we should drive around with ski masks on, but do nothing wrong, as a psychological experiment.”
“Well, your teacher wasn’t a very smart man then, was he?” Lil’ cop asked.
“Actually, he’s super smart. You guys just proved his point. People are judged by their appearance and not what they do! We didn’t do anything wrong, and here we are talking to you!”
At his point, big cop and Greg join us. Big cop’s approach was somewhat different.
“I DON”T CARE WHAT YOUR TEACHER SAID, THIS WAS *(&$)#ing STUPID!”
Greg looked petrified. Chaddy Stu might have peed himself – just a little bit.
“I just don’t see it that way. Can you name one law we broke? Any?” I felt emboldened, for no apparent reason.
Big cop paused. I don’t think he was used to conversations. I think he was used to yelling and then flexing his biceps and generally causing fear in all that stood before him. Forced to adjust course, he offered another solution.
“I tell you what. Why don’t we put you in the back of my car, and I’ll drive you down to Gary (Indiana – at the time, the murder capital of the US) with your ski masks on, and just drop you off. How would you guys like that? How long do you think you would last there?”
“No no no, sir! We don’t need that,” cried Chaddy or Greg, I can’t remember which.
“Um, how is that even legal? Seriously. We did nothing wrong, and you’re threatening to have us killed? Really?” I was not impressed with muscly man. I was very confident at this point. Then, lil’ cop spoke again.
“Well, we could just call your parents.”
“No no no, sir! I think we’ve learned our lesson!” This time, it was me. Lil’ cop broke me down. There was no way I wanted Keith and Darlene to find out about this, even if I hadn’t done anything wrong! I was still smarting from the infamous “cigarette incident” in high school (curse my baby sister). I didn’t need to have this talk!
As we left it, the cops took the ski masks, and some of our pride. I was defeated by the threat of my parents. Greg crumbled under the curses of a muscly policeman. And Chaddy Stu toweled off his legs and sat dejected on the way home. Mr. Ford’s experiment had played out exactly as predicted, much to my chagrin. And while I had the chops to stand up to the cops for a while, even under the threat of foul play, in the end I retired my ski mask for good. Only now, 17 years later, do I feel comfortable revealing this tale to my parents… although I am not looking forward to discussing this blog with my sweet little mama!
Also, imagine my surprise when I saw this Volkswagen commercial for the first time a few weeks ago – looks like someone heard about our story: