Yesterday was the first time in years that I was surrounded by police and forced into the back of a cop car…
The story is not very exciting, but it’s kinda funny.
It was my day off. After sleeping in until 2pm I decided that I’d run to Coney Island and go for a swim. I brought my book with me (Quo Vadis) so that when I was finished floating on my back and doing 20 minutes of butterfly I could lounge on the sand and read until the sun set. Then I’d take the subway into Manhattan, have a beer somewhere, and return home.
The shortest path to Coney Island entails crossing the Verrazano Bridge. If you remember my post, “The Verrazano Bridge…and ball sacks,” you know that I have a nerd-boner for that bridge. I was looking forward to traversing this architectural triumph despite it’s lack of a pedestrian walkway. I’ve run amongst treacherous traffic before and had no problem with jogging on the side of a busy roadway as commuting New Yorkers swore at me and angrily waved their fists. In addition, during my research on this bridge I learned that a bunch of people have committed suicide off it…so clearly there was some sort of path I could use.
I passed the tollbooths and saw the bridge straight ahead. Ah, yes, there you are Signori Verrazano…despite running at a decent clip…I was half-mast.
Out of my periphery I saw a cop car in the middle of the roadway turn its lights on and do a U-turn. “Don’t look J.W. Kash, don’t look. Stare straight ahead, run faster, and increase the volume of DMX’s Party Up In Here.”
The cop car swerved in front of me, cut me off, and an angry finger pointed to a side-street which was parallel to the highway. As a dutiful citizen of this country…I obliged.
A police officer emerged from his car and yelled,
“DON’T MOVE.” I’m standing there shirtless in running shorts holding a copy of Quo Vadis. I didn’t move. “YOU CAN’T GO ON THAT BRIDGE, BUDDY.” I have this bad habit from my unruly adolescence…which I’ve been trying to kick for years…which involves lying my ass off when I know I might be in the wrong and I’m confronted by authority.
“Isn’t there a pedestrian walkway? I’m here visiting a friend. I thought I’d run across the bridge. I’m going to Coney Island.”
“License and/or identification.”
“Am I under arrest?”
“Yes. This is a restricted area.”
“I’ll just turn around…I didn’t know-”
“LICENCE AND/OR IDENTIFICATION.”
“I only have my credit card.”
“Okay. Stay right there.” He goes back into the car and comes out with a sheet of paper. “Write your name and address on this sheet of paper. I gotta look you up.” Damn it, I think. That’s why knee-jerk lying is almost always a sure sign of guilt…and almost always screws you over worse in the end. I write down my name and Staten Island address.
“Staten Island huh?”
“Yes.” I kid you not, in a matter of thirty seconds TWO more cop cars had arrived and some sort of truck.
“What you got there?” the first cop asked.
“Quo Vadis? What’s that mean?”
“It’s Latin. It means ‘Where are you going?’”
“Hmm.” This personal question was a good sign. The cop’s mien had softened. I could feel that I was going to be let off the hook. The rest of the cops had surrounded me and we were all talking and joking (“You gotta do that marathon if you wanna run across that bridge.”) I could tell they liked that I was a Staten Island resident. They asked me how long I’d been living here and where I worked. This was clearly the most exciting part of their day.
“Am I really being arrested?”
“No…but we gotta drive you back to Bay street. This is a highly restricted area. It’s the rule.”
“Alright.” They ushered me into the back of a police car. The one thing that struck me was that the seat had no cushion..it was just hard plastic. Are all cop cars like that? I don’t remember.
My chauffeur and I amicably chatted as we drove to Bay Street. The cop said he would visit the craft beer bar I manage when he had the chance.
After I left the car I walked over to a park and did 20 minutes of abs and pushups…it wasn’t the ocean or the beach, but it would have to do. Near the end of my ab session I was tackled by a 1 year old bulldog named Boss. Here’s Boss humping my leg while I talked with the owner (who was mildly retarded and had a speech impediment):
An hour later I was back home.
I sat on my couch next to Hank and ordered a medium seafood pizza. Then I read Quo Vadis, drank my beer, and watched as the sun set over the Kill van kull.