Youâ€™ll have to come with us: My petty crime arrest
But now I was in Madison, Wisconsin, a student at the U, and I was perfectly aware I had a warrant out on me. I had gotten a letter in the mail stating such. I gloried in it and told everyone I knew. You got stopped for bike offenses in Madison as well and also one day I had driven my roommate’s dumpy old car to the grocery store and gotten stopped for speeding. And I guess it was that I didn’t have my license with me, although I possessed one. I was supposed to bring it in and pay the ticket and I never did either. I had gotten actual tickets for my bike offenses as well, which I had failed to pay.
So I knew I was somewhat of a fugitive, and I tried to take due precaution. “I can’t get busted for anything,” I’d say to people at parties, usually while huffing on a joint, staying adequately close to the keg. I went into a concert at the coliseum once with five cans of beer lined up in this ridiculous flat, rectangular purse I had—red with gold flecks it in and it matched my Wizard-of-Oz red shoes. The purse was flat at least without the five cans of beer in it. “Any cans or bottles?” the security guy said to me. “No,” I said—high, of course. “Open the bag,” he said. He pulled out one can after another.
I was taken out of the crowd and back to a room somewhere, to the alarm of my older sister and our friends. A cop was there and they called me in, made sure everything was straight—and it was, because I told them I was my sister. I gave them her name and birth date and address. We lived together, with two other girls. And I even got let back into the concert—I put up a little argument, that I had paid for the ticket, and now that I didn’t have the beer I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I might have even said they owed me for the beer. “And I have a clean record,” I said. “You just checked me out.” I think I added that it would be criminal to keep me from this band.
I found my sister and told her I had had to say I was her. I was a fugitive and she knew it. I scored huge points with all the friends, most of which were hers, and I think my sister was even kind of proud of me. She’s only 13 months older than I.
All went well for some time, what with my vigilance and everything. And I was in my apartment that evening of my arrest, hanging out with a guy who was more or less my boyfriend. Yeah, he was my boyfriend, but I didn’t really like him that much, and things had been kind of going down the tubes. My intercom rang and I thought it was this guy we were planning on buying a little pot from, so I buzzed him in without asking who it was. My boyfriend and I were in the midst of smoking a joint, and I opened the door after the knock and a cop was standing there.
Holy shit, I thought. My boyfriend had a little cocaine on him as well—this was the 80’s after all. He did have the wherewithal to put the joint out in the background. I say this because he had never been quite clever enough for me but at least this time he came through. And then we both had the nerve to cop an attitude with the police officer and treat him with derision. He said I had to come with him, I had a warrant out for my arrest, and I said, fine, I had to brush my teeth first, which I did, as he stood there.
“It’s Friday night,” my boyfriend said petulantly, which to this day strikes me as an idiotic comment—how dare the cops arrest college students on their main night out. I locked my apartment door and walked down the three flights of stairs with my boyfriend and the cop, who wasn’t a whole lot older than we were. There was another cop outside and they never handcuffed me or anything but I had to put my hands up on the roof of the car while they patted me down. A couple of people were stopping to watch by now, as was, of course, my boyfriend.
I got in the back seat of the car. I was just slightly unnerved, but interested, and high—quite. At the station I had to have paperwork filled out, which was simple. I sat at a table. Then I was put in a holding cell. It was just I and a black man, who was around 40. He looked fairly bummed out. Okay, I’m in a holding cell, I said to myself. This is a pretty pass.
I don’t know what else I exactly thought as I stood there waiting, maybe a little about my life, which was quite an all-around mess at this point. So there was a sense in which this episode was really nothing more than the icing on the cake. It was fitting and almost a relief, practically restful.
It wasn’t too long before a cop came to get me, though probably an hour had passed. I had been standing there for some while thinking whatever I was thinking. My boyfriend had apparently come and paid $90 bucks to get me out. He was waiting there with another guy we knew. And we got to leave and that was about it. Though I was technically out on bail and I had to go pay my tickets and present my license the first chance I got, which I did.
I thanked my boyfriend but I felt odd in front on him now, embarrassed, without quite knowing why. Maybe this whole thing made me feel that he had something up on me. Or maybe it was the way he seemed so pleased and almost smug as we went out that night. I went around telling everyone what had happened—adding to my repertoire as it were.
And I heard him telling someone too about how he was glad they had put me up against the car and searched me. “Great, humiliate _ _ _ _ _ more,” he told them he had been thinking. He had liked that and he was telling people now. There was something wrong here. Well, guess what? He broke up with me about a week later and started going out with Rita, this real earth-mother type. This took some nerve. I was the one who didn’t even like him that much.
Sure, I had gotten arrested, big deal. My grades were in the toitie, and other aspects of my life were similarly out of control. But I was sensitive and poetic and he didn’t even realize it. To prove it I put his guilt break-up flowers down the garbage disposal one at a time after he left—which almost broke it by the way. And that same night another friend put large screws through the cuffs of my denim jacket so they were sticking out. He rode me around to bars on the back of his mountain bike where I got triple wasted. And I never paid the guy back his $90 either.