And there was the time I got arrested for furnishing alcohol to minors and underaged drinking—and you wouldn’t think you could be guilty of both, but that’s the law. The night I called my parents late from Erie, PA (from college) and told them, and how my dad reacted.
We were guilty of those charges every day for a whole year I think. But our landlord was in cahoots with the police and wanted to take our rental deposits right at the end of our lease. It was just a normal Sunday afternoon, four or five of us trying to finish the dregs of a keg from the weekend, probably farting and looking pathetic out on the front porch, when the cops pulled up, and we ran and hid…and they said you better come out or it’s going to be bad, and foolishly I believed them.
I was 19 and charged on felony counts, amounting to $3K in fines and two years’ probation. I hired the local attorney known for getting college kids off underaged drinking charges but he lost our case that day, and he pulled me aside and said he knew the judge, and the judge was cranky because he was going through a divorce but my attorney could get me off if we appealed (his rates would double)…and I said no thanks, and hired a public defender, and lost. And I was a pre-law student then, but switched to theater the next semester.
It took me a couple years to pay the fines off. I worked crap jobs at college washing dishes: once, at a Taco Bell where I’d come on just as all the stainless steel pans with melted cheese were stacking up in towers in the back, waiting for me. I liked being back there in the corner, though: there was a meditation to it, real work. Those checks went to paying it off, all part of the fabric of my life.
My friend Peel called me there though, and made some reference to drugs, and the manager was listening on the other line, and told me right then and there with a smirk I was terminated. And so I was.
I worried what would happen to my record, my future, with this. When I called my parents though and talked to my dad that night I’ll never forget how calm and kind he was, his understanding. He was quick to make me feel OK, he caught me.
I thought about that coming out of the shower this morning thinking about Lily who’s 12, and how I’ll react when she makes a mistake like that. Maybe those are the moments we’re best as parents. When it seems nowhere else is safe, here always is.