COLUMN MAY 31, 2001
WHATCHA GONNA DO?
We were on our way to see Moulin Rouge (which I would characterize as visually dazzling rococo filmmaking surprisingly and yet effectively juxtaposed against conventional burlesque, play-within-a-play Noises Off-esque narrative) when I saw the flashing lights in the rearview and pulled onto a side street (overcome by a wave of panic-induced nausea).
"Do you know why I stopped you ma'am?"
I pondered several potential answers in the 5 seconds or so it took me to respond, the most obvious of which was, "because I drive a vehicle commonly and stereotypically favored by rappers and drug dealers and you don't think it belongs in this neighborhood, which explains why you let the Chevy Suburbans doing 65 in the right-hand lane cruise right by without so much as a second look, because THEY are the preferred vehicles of soccer moms, Martha Stewart, and the CIA."
That's not what I said though.
And my college-pal Bazz (who's a lawyer) confirmed for me later that the correct answer to ANY question posed by a police officer is NEVER, "because you're a racial profiler?"
So what I said, instead, was "No."
At which point I was informed I was going 40-something in a 30-something.
I gave him my license and registration and he headed back to his car (for an eternity).
At which point - trying to lighten the mood, I guess - my fellow cineaste joked, "Huh. Guess HE's not a big fan of your column?"
Which I countered with something vicious about the fact that if we'd taken his idiotic six-cylinder imitation toy car, we'd never have been stopped in the first place because it won't even GO 35.
I'm not usually so mean to him, but... well, that's not true. Sometimes I'm even meaner than that.
Then he wanted to know why I had LIED about why I was stopped.
I did NOT lie.
I did not know I was speeding, and for all I know, he could've been stopping us to see if we were wearing our seatbelts (we were).
Besides: I have 13 lawyers on my cellphone speed dial - all of whom would've crucified me if I'd answered ANY questions on any subject without a lawyer present... Duh.
Hop Sing suggested I should've responded with humor, along the lines of:
"because of the illegal drugs in the console?
the unregistered gun in the Kate Spade bag?
the pedestrian we ran over back on Main Street?
the expired tags?
because we stole this vehicle (from a drug-dealing rapper)?"
NONE of those things are TRUE of course - Hop Sing just has a vivid imagination (and poor impulse control).
The officer gave me all the paperwork to take to city hall and bid us a sarcastic good evening.
So we get to the movie; retrieve our tickets from my coworkers whom we'd sent ahead as scouts; and I promptly curl into a fetal position where I remained for the next two hours.
My date then went off to the concession stand and returned with approximately a bushel of popcorn and a what appeared to be a multi-litre keg of bottled water (approximately the same size as the kind you'd normally find attached to a water cooler) - positively elated that he'd scored this bounty for only a dollar more.
As I relayed this to Ouisie, she says this size obsession is common tribal behavior among the hunter-gatherers we know - as her betrothed has begun clipping coupons which lure him in with the promise of "buy ONE gallon of Picante sauce; get the SECOND gallon free!!" It seems to escape his notice that even if our entire social circle moved into a commune together and pooled our culinary resources - it would still take us the better part of a YEAR to consume ONE gallon of picante sauce, let alone two.
Anyway, the movie wound down more or less predictably (the narrator had already telegraphed the ending in the opening sequence - much like in American Beauty, except not). I hated it, and (as usual) my date loved it.
But as the denouement approached, he - worn to a frazzle by the middle-aged magpies sitting behind us who'd chatted throughout the course of the film - actually turned and SHUSHED them.
I was shocked (he is so passive he barely has a pulse). And aghast.
I was as annoyed as he was, but I'd had enough drama for one night, and I had no interest in him starting a fight I knew I'd have to finish. At the very least, I expected one or both of us to end up suffering a jaunty blow to the head.
In the event we had been hauled off to jail for assault, I was pretty sure I could take care of myself. At a minimum, I planned to swallow a razor blade wrapped in tape and then throw it up later to deal with the bulls and my fellow inmates. ('Cause that's just the kinda thing they teach you in the liberal arts.)
He, on the other hand, was sure to be somebody's bitch by morning. 'Cause I hear they like 'em pretttttty in Cellblock C. This is just one (of many) flaws I find in dating someone excessively prettier than I am.