Normally I’m a law abiding citizen. But whenever a law enforcement officer comes around, I’m a rebel without a cause, just breaking the law out of nervous impulses. My wife normally calls me “old pokey” when I’m driving, but let me glimpse a patrol car in the rearview mirror and suddenly I’m Mad Max. When officers finally pull me over for erratic maneuvers, they never believe me when I tell them it’s their fault.
ME: “Officer, I was driving quite responsibly until you got behind me, then I got all nervous.”
OFFICER: “Sir, you were swerving all over the place, I’m going to need you to exit the car. When was the last time you had anything to drink?”
ME: “Eleven years, if you count that one drink of champagne. Thirty-five otherwise.”
OFFICER: “Sir, your pupils are dilated.”
ME: “I think that’s just from fear.”
OFFICER: “I’m going to administer a field sobriety test. Sir, will you count backwards…”
I may be the only teetotaler in history who has had to walk the line multiple times. Thankfully, I passed the tests, but I will say that walking in a straight line toe-to-toe is a lot harder than you’d think when your freedom depends on it. The problem is that even when I’m innocent, I act guilty.
The Trial, by Kafka, is my worst nightmare. In the novel, an innocent man is arrested for an unknown reason. Then he spends the next year trying to discover why and prove his innocence. But his neurotic behavior makes everyone assume he’s guilty. Then, in depressing Kafka fashion (spoiler alert), he’s executed.
Just the thought of that plot sends shivers to my epidermis. Once I thought it was actually coming true. It was the night when a sheriff’s deputy pounded on my front door. For a moment before I opened the door, I thought, “What in the world have I done to get arrested?”
Turns out, I had just left a gate open, and my cows were standing in the middle of the road. But I don’t think my heart has ever fully recovered.