If you’ve been with me for a few years, you know I’m in good company on Thursdays. Check out this fantastic group of ladies, giving insight on various topics. After reading my post, click on:
Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.
Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.
Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World
For this week, I asked: What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) holiday memories?
I can’t say for sure if what went down happened shortly before, or after the holidays. I recall a few details that blend together for me, like the holiday wreaths hanging in the juvenile detention hall. Or the reluctance in my then-boyfriend’s face while handing me my Christmas present that year. I think he was just a tad bit annoyed with me, given the circumstances. I can say with some certainty that it happened sometime around the holidays. That’s as good as it gets.
It was meant to be a normal, average day in the life of me. I was living with my best friend and her family, had been for a couple of years. They sort of adopted me, without really adopting me. It wasn’t typical but it felt pretty typical.
My best friend’s boyfriend hung around the house a lot. He was a strange kid, the kind who’d outdo himself in order to get attention. He was always clowning around and he got on a lot of nerves, but he didn’t bother me. We’d often dance around together, creating elaborate routines, Madonna loudly serenading us from the tape player in the background. Years later, we found out he was gay- which was no big deal and certainly no surprise to any of us.
Anyway, he’d often swing by and get ready for his job at Burger King. It wasn’t far from where we lived, so it made sense. I have his name tag, somewhere. Not sure how I ended up with it, but I did, with his name in block letters, right under the cheerful red “Burger King” lettering.
While he was getting dressed in the bathroom, the rest of us were doing our own thing, as usual. I can’t say for sure what I was engaged in, probably watching tv. Then, the dog wanted out. Cody always had this way of really looking into your soul with his dark brown eyes, especially when he had to go. He was half Chow-Chow, half Husky, a bushy hairy ball of cuteness. I couldn’t deny him, so I walked with him through the kitchen, down the basement stairs.
I opened the back door, allowing Cody to run out and do his business. At the same time, two men burst in, brushing past me and running at full speed up the basement stairs. I had no time to think or yell at the intrusion. I was in total shock. Who the hell?!?
What the hell?!?
Did that just happen?!? It must have! A commotion sounded from above me, lots of yelling and chaos. Thudding. It feels so fragmented, looking back on that whole experience. I’m sure I’m forgetting bits and pieces, because it felt like no time had passed when I’d made my way up the stairs, taking them two at a time. In front of me were the two intruders. One was pinned down by my best friend. She had her hand down his pants, clasping tightly onto his tighty whities, giving him what looked to be a painful wedgie. The other guy stood with his hands up, in surrender.
“Let go of my underwear,” wedgie guy pleaded with my bestie.
“Not until you let go of my boyfriend,” she responded, calmly. Rationally. I hadn’t noticed her boyfriend pinned beneath the both of them.
They were at a stalemate like that, for quite some time. Eventually, we found out the intruders were co-workers of the boyfriend’s mother. She’d sent them to the house to collect him. Looking at this from my adult perspective, I can’t help but think of her as a total moron. Maybe the boyfriend hadn’t gotten permission to get ready for work with us, but why send your goons in, in such a covert way? Why didn’t they ring the door bell, like normal people?
Police were called. Four squad cars lined up, ready to take action. We were ready for the intruders to have their asses arrested, as it should be. When the officers stormed in, more hell broke loose. The intruders weren’t the focus. Suddenly, the teenagers were the ones in trouble!
The boyfriend ended up in my bedroom, with one of the officers. My best friend stood in the doorway, watching. I was standing in the hallway. The officer stood in front of my friend and said, “You need to move, or I’m going to mace you.” A nano second later, he maced her. He gave her no time to react, no time to follow his orders. He gave her the order, and immediately maced her!
I felt an intense rage wash over me, to the point of nearly blacking out from the strength of it. The officer headed back into my room and I ran down the hallway and up behind him, shoving him hard. He hit the far wall, his hands bracing his near-fall. After he’d turned and saw it was me who’d done the pushing, he lifted the mace bottle and sprayed my face, my chest.
I was engulfed in such a goddawful burn! It was in my mouth, in my eyes! It hurt so bad, I barely noticed my arms pinned behind my back, or the handcuffs placed around my wrists. The officer threw me down to the floor, pushing me hard into the carpet, rubbing the mace into my skin. Instinctively, I threw my leg back and kicked him between the legs. An “oomf” response emitted from him. He pulled me up by my waist-long hair, leading me out of the room and down the hallway.
My best friend was already in the back of one of the cruisers. I was shoved into a vacant one, locked in. I felt like some deranged, crazed animal back there, with tight handcuffs and mace dripping from me. I could barely make out anything going on outside of the stench of pepper and the sensation that my lungs were burning from the inside out.
We were transported to the juvenile detention hall. There had been heavy storms, knocking power out in the area. It was dark, save for the generators. I was placed into a room, alone. Searched by an officer. I’d never been inside the JDH. I didn’t even know where it was located, or where the police station was, for that matter. This was a whole new experience for me.
A different officer walked in, choosing to sit in a chair across from my own. He seemed pleasant enough.
“What is a nice young lady like you doing in a place like this?”
I coughed, trying to relieve the burning in my chest.”I don’t know.”
“Seems you and some of your friends got into some trouble tonight.”
“That’s not true. It wasn’t us, strangers broke into our house and tried to take a friend of ours away. We called the cops, but you got us, instead.”
He chuckled, but it didn’t sound genuine. “Then why aren’t they the ones in here? Why did you assault an officer?”
I tried to tell him the details. He told me I could trust him, and in that moment, I did. I knew what I’d done was highly illegal. You’re not to attack a police officer. But, when I saw the officer attack my best friend, I lost control and my anger took over. It wasn’t something I’d planned on doing or understood. It just.. happened. And I really did feel badly for it.
The officer shook his head, his attitude towards me suddenly indifferent. Cold. “You see this badge?” He pointed to the star on his chest. “This means I deserve respect. This means you have to listen to me and do exactly what I say, when I say it. I’m the boss of you, understand? We all are. We’re in control, not you. We can do whatever the hell we want to do, you got it?”
I didn’t get it. None of what had happened that night made any sense to me, and it still doesn’t. We had intruders in our home. Why were they allowed to walk away, scott free? Why were we the ones in trouble, when none of us had looked for it or had asked for any of it? Why didn’t the mace-happy officer give my best friend a second to do as he’d commanded? If he had, would I have reacted the same way? I don’t think so. If he’d allowed her to move aside, I don’t think I would have done what I’d done.
My father was called out that night. My grandmother was with him when they picked me up from JDH. I expected a major ass chewing. I knew I’d be grounded for life, or even longer than that. Surprisingly, they were both supportive. No, they weren’t cool with my police brutality. Who would be? Even I wasn’t cool with the way I handled the situation, but they thought it was remarkable how I’d jumped to the defense of my best friend, I didn’t give it a moment’s notice or a pause.
My boyfriend? He didn’t share in my family’s sentiments. I ended up seeing him shortly after I’d been released, after an attempt at a much-needed shower went horribly wrong (hot water doesn’t get rid of the mace; it merely pushes the sludge down the entire length of your body, scalding the rest of you. Live and learn). He gave me the lecture from hell that night- and made me feel pretty shitty. We broke up shortly after.
A month or so later, my best friend and I were instructed to watch court in session, all day. That was part of our punishment. The other part was to write a 1000 word essay regarding what had happened, and why it was wrong. We took creative liberties, reading over the police reports, writing a 1000 word essay on how incredibly flawed and screwed up that day was. The reports were erroneous. Somehow, there were more cops listed than had actually shown up, more kids, too. There were only a few of us, yet the reports cited 8 kids or something crazy like that. The intruders weren’t even mentioned! It was obvious they were all written so the reports would jive. But I made sure to point our how nothing jived, nothing was accurate.
Our account of that day must have been acceptable to the powers that be. The charges against us (assault on a police officer) were dropped, and nothing ended up on our permanent or juvenile records. We’ve lived squeaky clean existences ever since.
How do I feel about this, nearly 20 years later?
I know I did what I did out of love for my friend. She’s someone I’m still very close to. I consider her family, which is why I turned into some over-protective crazy person. In my eyes, she was attacked, and I was really pissed off. Not to condone my behavior, but that’s the reason behind my temporary insanity. I didn’t do it for fun, or to earn myself a free ride to JDH.
I don’t feel this incident scarred me for life, but it certainly changed my views on what it means to really trust someone, no matter the uniform they wear or the organization they work for. In the end, it’s all about the person. I can’t judge all cops over my one bad experience, just like I’d hope people won’t judge me because of a bad judgement call I’d made when I was 17.