It’s true. I don’t like being told what to do.
I have been described as “combative” on several occasions (and in one annual review at a previous job), and I feel like it’s an accurate description.
That’s not to say I’m not ladylike, or polite, or a joy to be around. I am all of those things. Most of the time.
I think I do a pretty good job of behaving, for the most part. My mother would disagree. Over the years, when confronted with morons for bosses/boyfriends/teachers/coworkers, she’s encouraged me to fight my natural inclination to tell them exactly what I think of them. Well, ok — not necessarily with boyfriends — but with the rest of them, for sure. She calls this evolutionary response of mine “oozing.” Apparently it’s not so much what I say (because sometimes I just can’t help myself) but a look in my eyes that gives me away. It’s a look that says I-want-to-punch-you-in-the-face-and-then-shit-on-your-desk. “It just oozes out of you,” she told me once. Now whenever I’m feeling particularly combative – she just reminds me not to ooze.
This is not a trait I’ve inherited from my mother, I’m pretty sure. This one has Dad written all over it.
My dad is a lot of fun. He introduced me to Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream, and McDonald’s breakfasts. When I got detention in fourth grade for carving my initials in my already heavily defiled desk, he told me if being a woodworker made me happy, I should just go with it. His ponytail is longer than mine, and he rides a Harley. Plus we rocked Shutter Shades in the 80s, waaay before Kanye.
He also got arrested once for leading the police on a high-speed chase up I-95 in the middle of the night wearing nothing but cutoff jean shorts.
You read that right.
I first heard this story a year ago. We were out to dinner, and I was telling him about my very recent speeding ticket that I thought I was unfairly issued. Was I speeding? Yes. Combative, see? Anyway, somehow we got on the subject of jurisdiction, and how in the movies, if you can just make it across county lines, they can’t follow you. My bff’s husbang, who is an officer of the law, informed me that in Maryland, that’s not really the case. Which reminded my father of the following story…
It was before I was born — I’ll go ahead and guess 1979 — my parents were already married, and had been living together in a townhouse apartment in Catonsville, (the same one I’d live in 25 years later) and it was the night before they were supposed to move to their new house, which was one block over. The same house I’d grow up in. Anyway… It was the middle of the night, and the couple that lived above them got into a huge flight, and she left to go back home to New York, or something. Her boyfriend came downstairs and begged my father to drive him to the bus station right away so he could chase after her. Romantic, right?
So, my dad hops into the Volvo he and my mom shared, barefoot, wearing nothing but his cutoffs. He’s just going to drop the guy off, and then come right back, so why bother with clothes or shoes, right? Plus, it’s late, and tomorrow is moving day, so we’ve got to hustle. So he drops the guy off, turns around and gets right back onto 95, and floors it.
Right past a cop.
So, the cop comes after him, as cops tend to do, and my dad figures he’s only a few miles from the county line. If he can just make it out of the city, the guy will have to give up and turn around, right?
So he goes faster.
Now there are four cops. But he still doesn’t stop. Not until a few more join in on the chase, and none of them are showing any signs of stopping at the city line.
So, he decides to pull over. And proactively jumps out of the car with his arms in the air. He also decides to run over to the first cop and hugs him.
“You saved my life!”
“I was asleep at the wheel, and your sirens woke me up!”
“Sir, you’re under arrest. Get in the paddywagon.”
So, my mom got the call in the middle of the night to pick up her half-naked, barefoot husband from jail. Then they had to go pick up the car from the impound lot. At the time my parents were both smokers, and had recently gone to some event where they left with armfuls of free cigarettes, which they had thrown in the backseat of the car. My dad said when they brought the car around the next day all the cigarettes were gone. “The cops stole all our cigarettes!” He was still outraged, 30 years later.
The charges and potential fines we so high that they had to hire a lawyer (and my father is convinced to this day that the guy they hired must have bribed the judge). But he got up there, and testified that yes, he had fallen asleep at the wheel, and the police sirens woke him up and saved his life. The arresting officer protested that my father had actively maneuvered around other cars on the road, but that didn’t seem to convince the judge. He told the officer he deserved a medal for saving this poor, sleeping man’s life. Case closed.
The day after I heard this story, I called my mother to confirm it’s authenticity. You see, in addition to inheriting my father’s blatant disregard for rules, I may have also gotten a smidgen of his tendency to embellish stories. Also, we’re both good at math and puzzles, but whatever.
I told her the story, exactly how he told it to me, and she didn’t interrupt once to correct something or tell me he was exaggerating. When I was finished, she thought about it for a second and then said, “I don’t remember the cigarettes in the backseat, but the rest of it is all true.”
So, yeah — he already knew that jurisdiction thing wasn’t true.