The recent (most recent) Trump missive regarding NFL players (or as he so presidentially stated “sons-of-bitches”) has caused me to reflect upon my personal visitations. Not that I don't sometimes think on them. I do. But there is a particular lens that I'd never considered before. Or rather, it never occurred to me to do so, because they were my moments to reflect upon, and therefore did not stand for anything edifying beyond my own need to understand my own little world.
But first, a little full disclosure about who I am, because it may or may not be important to how all this is viewed.
I am white. I am of Scotch-Irish descent. I am college-educated. I have a Masters of Fine Arts degree. I am 5'9” without shoes and can weigh anywhere between 145 and 155 pounds. I don't have a criminal record. For the first eighteen years of my life I lived well-above the poverty line. Since then, I have not, but I've managed to do okay, through what I like to think of as luck, lack of a materialistic streak, and supportive parents who eventually came to understand that their only child was never going to be a doctor or a lawyer or an executive but loved me regardless. I identify as heterosexual, but I don't define it as a choice. I identify as a writer, but that is a choice. If you would like to argue with me about whether or not that was a choice for me, we can save that for another time.
For now, let's move on to personal experiences, which I will spread over this tragically unused blog in increments in an attempt to both examine and not overwhelm you with unwieldy postings that make you want to move on to the next post which is all about kittens or that thing your friend was about to eat and became so excited about. This sentiment will be broken up into separate rants. Stay tuned.
Incident #1: Sean and Sonny get pulled over.
At one point, while I was living in Grand Blanc Township, I was driving a hybrid. And when I say hybrid, what I mean is that I was driving a car that was one-half Omni Dodge and one-half Plymouth Horizon. Seriously, the front half of my car had the Omni Dodge logo and the back had the Plymouth Horizon logo. Go ahead and Google images of both cars. You can clearly see how they could be coupled with little argument.
I was driving and my best friend Sonny was in the passenger's seat. If you manage to pay that much attention to me, you may remember Sonny from last year, when I announced his death, two days before the artist always known as Prince died. My little, used, and bastardized tankish car was still new to me, and I just got a license plate for it. What I didn't have was the tools to screw it into its proper place. So I mounted it on the hatchback window. Problem solved. It stood proud right next to the piece of paper taped to the window that said my license plate was in the mail. Double protection.
I was pulled over. Not sure why. They informed me that my license had expired. I immediately contested their findings, saying that it was right there in the hatchback window… only to find that when I looked back, the plate was no longer there. To be fair, there was probably a color-coated system in effect back them that would inform the police that that piece of paper taped to my hatchback windshield had expired, hence a reason to pull me over.
It can be said that at that point, I had it in my head that when someone was pulled over, that the police would only be concerned with my license and my proof of insurance, both of which I had. When they asked for Sonny's license, however, I was a bit disconcerted. It made no sense to me why they needed his. He wasn't driving, he was just the passenger. I wasn't worried, however. Sonny didn't have a criminal record either. This was just, what I assumed, a procedure that I was unaware of. Or a new one. I remember that my Dad was pulled over once during a family trip and issued a warning, but my mom wasn't asked for her license. Because she was his wife and she wasn't driving. I also wasn't asked for my ID because I was maybe seven or eight at the time and playing with Star Wars figures n the backseat.
Sonny joked with me, made fun of me for losing my license plate. I was a mess. I felt as if I was going to go to jail right at that moment. I was scared out of my mind, despite the fact that I was raised to believe that if I hadn't done anything wrong, then I would be okay. I knew that my license plate had to have been there. I took the initiative. I got out of my car while the police were still looking into my record, walked around to the trunk of my car, unlocked it, opened it, and saw my license plate at the bottom of my trunk. I immediately thought, “Hey! I'm in the clear! I didn't meaningfully not have a license plate!” I then picked it up and showed it to the officers in the car, grinning like an apologetic idiot. One of the officers nodded at me as I shrugged and put the plate back into its rightful place. I got back in the car, having to listen to Sonny laugh at me for having such bad luck.
I sat there, wondering if my offering would do any good. It was an honest mistake. I didn't have a screwdriver. Or I was lazy. Or I was a procrastinator. Whatever applied.
Both officers approached my car. The one I had spoken to on my side, his partner on the other. My officer handed me my license and gave me a ticket. My first violation. I felt relieved that it was only a ticket, but disappointed at the same time because up to that point, I was the world's safest and most respectful driver. Didn't care for a ding on my record.
The second officer asked Sonny to step out of the car. Sonny looked at me with what I imagine as being the same confused expression that I had. The officer opened the door and Sonny stepped out. He was frisked and then cuffed. I asked my officer why Sonny was being arrested. I was told that he had a warrant out for him. I informed the officer that Sonny had done nothing wrong. He was fine with me saying that, but continued on regardless, allowing me to leave. I watched as Sonny was led to the car in handcuffs and placed in the back.
They drove away. I sat on the side of Hill Road in shock. And then after a few moments of not knowing what was happening, I drove home.
Sonny was released the next day. Or the same day. I don't remember. There was some confusion concerning his identity. Sonny had an older brother named Derek. Derek, whom I have met, was trouble. He had a history. He is the reason I know what a loaded gun in my hand feels like, because he left it at me and Sonny's apartment, and me, being as young and interested as I was, used it to pretend that I was a bad-ass. If you want to ask me why I was so intoxicated by that feeling, to explore the idea that that brief glimpse of power could feel so endlessly addictive, then feel free to comment below. I may have as many questions as you do, but I will leave that for another post.
The last time Derek was arrested, he told the arresting officers that his name was David. David was Sonny's real name. He adopted the name Sonny for himself because he was a fan of "Miami Vice." We both were. I was Tubbs. For the record, I was always going to be Tubbs.
In summation, Sonny was arrested because his brother gave Sonny's name to the police. The warrant for arrest was for David Williams. Sonny was arrested for his brother's sins.
If you are paying attention to this bit, you may have more questions. As do I. I will prompt some questions, but I will leave it you to find others.
First and foremost being, how did Derek manage to use his brother's identity to escape imprisonment?
Second being, given how the police seem to react to gestures and movements as of late, how was I allowed to turn away to see that my license plate was not where I left it? At no point was I asked to put my hands up or grip the steering wheel. For the record, Sonny wasn't asked to do anything out of the norm either until he was asked to step out of the car.
When the officer had taken our licenses and retreated to his car to check the status, again, I got out of my car, opened my trunk, and pulled out my fallen license plate. I flashed my fail-safe grin and returned to my seat. The officer looked at me and grinned back, nodding. He got it.
It may be important to note that, as stated before, I was white at the time and still am. Sonny was black.
Now then. Given what you know of me, as expressed earlier, do you think I would have been treated differently if I wasn't whom I explicitly told you I was in paragraph four? I have given you an admittedly loaded scenario, so questions may abound, perhaps some I haven't even thought of.
Keep in mind, this is just a single implement. This is Part One. Part Two coming soon.