Saturday, December 22, 2007

Insanity, Sheer Insanity
I wrapped up a first-series class at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Tara, Rowan and I loaded up the car shortly thereafter. I mainlined a gingerbread latte from Peet's at 8 as the fam percolated out by the curb and then we dropped the hammer out of Portland, heading south on the 5.

I got pulled over at about 2:30 a.m. just outside of Redding, California. The cop clipped me at 90 in a 65, though he wrote out ticket for 85, so I managed to duck the reckless charge. I'll take the rap 'cause hey, 10 minutes earlier he'd have nailed me with the cruise-control pinned just into triple digits.

It was also by far the most pleasant experience with The Man I've ever had. I rolled the window down and the guy says, "I gunned you at 90 in a 65. Can I see your license and registration?"

Five minutes later he returned. "Here's your license. Please sign here." I signed the ticket and that was it --- none of the bullshit cop banter, or third degree, or smart-guy dickwad posturing.

I used to whip a faded blue 1990 Oldsmobile 98 that had a faux wood dash, leather seats, and power doors and windows, all of which were tres luxurious. It was the first car I ever owned made after Reagan was president --- this was only 5 years ago, mind you --- and it was like driving a big, dreamy couch.

I ran it gangster, too, and left the Michigan plates on --- with up-to-date registration, mind you --- and in sunny Encinitas it was trife enough that it was a veritable cop magnet. Every cop in the city pulled me over, ran my license, and then let me go at least once.

Maybe I looked like someone living out of the car, or maybe it was because a massive American car was horrifically out of place in a city where the latest M6 BMW is standard issue. One cop spent 15 minutes asking me where I lived, where I worked, and if I had a history of drug use. That's a lot to infer from merely owning an Oldsmobile.

I finally got one too many "Do you know why I pulled you over?"s and I absolutely hatched on the cop. "Are you fucking kidding me?" I said.

The response left him a bit flat-footed: "Uh?"

"You pulled me over," I said, "Why don't you just fucking tell me why you pulled me over!"

The cop said that my headlight was out, so I told him I was getting out of the car, which I did, and then I inspected my front end. Both headlights were functioning perfectly. The cop suggested maybe the wire was loose, and then he let me go.

I was so angry and yet so nervous that I was twitching, and I had that gross worms-in-the-stomach feeling. Fucking cops.

Of course, nowadays the guy would have just tasered me for raising my voice.

So I'm thinking I might write a letter to the Redding California Highway Patrol office telling them how positive my experience with this cop had been.

We pulled up to the Sacramento airport three hours after the experience in Redding, at maybe 4:30? We boarded the plane for San Diego at 6 and stepped out into the storied cut-glass blue sky of Southern California at 7:30 a.m.

We made it to practice at the studio by 9.

Fucking crazy, I tell you, though I'm taking none of the blame for it 'cause my crazy wife planned the itinerary. God, I love her for that kind of shit.

When he saw us at the studio, Tim's face split open in one of his patented gleamers. "Well look who's here!" he said.

The ensuing hug was worth it, worth all of it.