Tag Archives: high school

Parents Would Rather Their Child NOT Get Arrested

DaniAlpert

DaniAlpert

We all crave attention. Some crave it more than others. Perhaps they suffer from low self-esteem, they’re the youngest sibling, or because they’re an only child. I too sought my share of attention growing up. Aw, let’s be honest, I still like attention, only now I’m not as obnoxious about it as I used to be. At least I don’t think I am.

However, getting arrested on a sunny but brisk Monday afternoon on December 26th in 1983, the day after Christians celebrated the birth of that sweet baby Jesus, was not the kind of attention that I was looking for.

I was charged with tagging. That’s street lingo for defacing property with spray paint. When I was seventeen years old, my friend Laura and I sat in her bedroom, in her parent’s house, suffering from an acute case of suburban boredom. We didn’t have i-devices or 300 television channels to occupy ourselves. Laura didn’t even have cable, so MTV wasn’t an option. What to do? We had to get creative. We had to think outside of the mall. After an hour of drinking Tab and potato chips, I blurted out, “Let’s graffiti something.”

I didn’t know that graffiti was illegal. I saw it on buildings and on street signs in Manhattan every time we ventured in for dinner and Broadway show. I thought it was normal. I thought that it was okay because I hadn’t heard of anyone getting arrested for it. Of course at that age, I wasn’t watching much news or reading the paper either. Shit, people may have been getting arrested left and right and I wouldn’t have known about it.

I instinctively knew that public places were out of play but that anything dilapidated or hidden from view (for the most part) from the public, was fair game. And yes, my parents failed me somewhere along the line. I considered giving an otherwise dreary wall a splash of color. I was performing a community service and I was giving the graffiti artist inside a chance to be immortalized.

Laura and I drove to the local hardware store and bought cans of spray paint. We decided on an overpass that was far enough away from the middle of town but close enough to be seen when people exited, or entered, the parkway. It also provided us with a large blank canvas. What a wonderful space to be able to express our seventeen year old selves.

I was madly in love with my boyfriend (hello handcuffs) and I thought, what better way to show my love than to spray paint our initials on a concrete wall. Laura was dating someone as well, so she decided to do the same. As I was putting the finishing touches on the enormous red heart around the D.A. + P.S., I heard the dulcet tones of a police siren.

I looked around expecting to see a pack of spoiled, preppy hooligans, that were drunk and had just been caught vandalizing someone’s front yard with toilet paper. That happened a lot in my town. Instead, the black and white pulled up alongside two naive and misguided teenagers. I was oblivious to what was happening, until I wasn’t.

Laura and I threw our cans into a snowbank, trying to hide the evidence. Never mind the fact that I had paint droppings all over my pants and hands. I wanted to scream, Run! Run like the wind! Then I realized that this wasn’t an episode of The Mod Squad. An officer, who looked like he had just gotten out of the boy scouts (I was a kid and even I thought he looked young) approached. “Get in girls, we’re going downtown.”

“You’re taking us into Manhattan?”

“You’re going to the police station in town, funny girl.” Even then I couldn’t hide the funny. I never knew that my town had a police station. This is how clueless I was. I wasn’t trying to be funny. Rare. My family always called New York City, downtown. It’s what I knew.

Laura started singing like a canary. “She made me do it. I didn’t want to go. I begged her to go to the Chess King and get our boyfriend’s sweaters.” I wanted to back hand her across her Bonne Bell glossed smacker. We slid into the back seat of the police car. I tried to roll down my window but I couldn’t find a handle. Something else that I didn’t know. Police cars don’t have any way for perps to escape. Now how would I have known that adorable fact?

It was probably around this time, when I started to feel that this whole scared straight charade might not be a charade after all. I was getting a touch scared.

The police station in my town was also the library and deli. No wonder I didn’t know that there was a jail in the back. When Laura and I were escorted into the building, the smell of pastrami and tongue almost knocked me over. Baretta took us into a back room and fingerprinted us. What? Was this happening? I cooperated but I was still in disbelief that all of this rigmarole was because I sprayed some cruddy looking underpass. Weren’t there shoplifters to bust?

I was handed a paper towel and I made a feeble attempt to clean my fingers, but they were stained. It was like my scarlet letter. Baretta thought he was hot shit. I’d bet my freedom that Laura and I were his first arrests.

He handed me a piece of wood that had numbers on it, that looked like they were drawn with black Sharpies. I was instructed to hang the wood around my neck. That seemed archaic. Doesn’t the criminal hold the block of wood below the chin for their mug shot? Bat balls! I was getting a mug shot! Who would think that this could be going on alongside meat cleavers and the Dewy Decimal system?

I asked Baretta if I should smile for my photo. As a budding performer, I was always thinking, “Hmm, possible headshot?” I talk stupid and inappropriate when I’m nervous. He shot me a look that sent an internal heat missile to my sphincter. How could I, the most responsible person that ever lived, and my town’s designated driver, have gotten pinched, especially when my motivation for tagging came from passion and innocent love.

An hour later, my attorney, otherwise known as Dad, bailed me out. When I got home, my brother and his friends were sitting around our kitchen table. They had just gotten back from Ft. Lauderdale and had decided to try Sun In hair lightener, so they all had the same orange tinted hair color. They looked ridiculous. They smiled at me as if I were the coolest or dumbest, (it was hard to tell) kid on the planet. I followed my father into the living room to have a talk.

It was more like he yelled and I listened. The details of the conversation are foggy at best but I do remember his panic over the fact that I was applying to colleges and that he didn’t want this little speed bump to go on my permanent record, and hinder my chances of getting into school. I had a record? I was learning so much that day. Perhaps I needed to pay more attention to my surroundings, and what was real, and a little less Marcus Welby, M.D reenactments in my bed at night.

A week later, my father and I trekked back to the courthouse/library/deli, where he was able to plea with the judge. This is legalese for, how much is it going to cost me to get her records expunged? Wouldn’t you know that this was the same day that a Constitutional Law class, from my high school, was on a field trip and sitting in the courtroom. As I faced the audience of my peers, as I walked out, the entire class looked up at me as if I were the coolest or dumbest, (again, hard to tell) kid on the planet.

Laura and I got off with several hundred thousand hours of community service. It felt like that many anyway. The envelope licking and the paper cuts were child’s play compared to removing our artwork from the cement wall. We tried everything; Brillo Pads, bleach, every household cleaning supply known to man, to no avail. It was clear that nothing short of sand blasting was going to get that shit off.

A decade later, while I was visiting my parents, I decided to revisit the scene of the crime. I know (now) that what I did was illegal and wrong, but there was a medium sized part of me that felt proud when I saw the outline of the enormous red heart. It had faded almost beyond recognition. Almost. For me it was a symbol of lost innocence and profound ignorance.

Valentine’s Day…WTF?

Valentine'sDay_WTF?Oy, another “Hallmark Makes A Billion Dollars”, holiday is upon us. Approximately one billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent world-wide each year, making it the second largest card sending holiday right behind Christmas. What, the Yom Kippur card didn’t make the list? And since when is Valentine’s Day considered a holiday? Does that mean I don’t have to go work? School? Are the banks closed?

Valentine’s Day is supposedly to celebrate love by exchanging candy and gifts. Really? How many women out there are going to be saying the following, or if not actually saying it, thinking it? “If you loved me, truly loved me, you wouldn’t be giving me a ginormous box of assorted fattening chocolates. Didn’t I just tell you that I can’t fit into my skinny jeans? You’re an enabler. What’s wrong with you?” CONTINUE READING

Let’s Not Take A Tour of Our Past

Girlfriend Mom Kid: “Were you in any movies, like you see in the movie theater?”
Girlfriend Mom: “Uh…”

Wow, where did that come from? One minute we’re watching The Conspirator, and the next I’m reviewing my resume in my head. I didn’t answer immediately because I actually couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember my life! Great! I didn’t want him to suffer through my forgetfulness, so I said no. Thank g-d he didn’t ask me why, or I might’ve kicked him for bringing up an emotionally charged and sensitive subject.

Why couldn’t I remember? You’d think something like being in an movie would’ve left an impression, especially since I worked in the entertainment business, in one form or another, for 20 years. That world seems like a lifetime ago, and it was. Was this a sign that I had subconsciously (or unconsciously) tucked that world away somewhere? Had there been so much living since those days, that it forced me to spring clean my brain, to make room for the new crap?

I started thinking about what my boyfriend knows about my ‘old life’. Of course over the years, he’s heard stories, met friends from those chapters, and read or watched some of my work, (but with so much brilliance how could we possible get to it all?) I couldn’t fill him in on all of it, I don’t have that kind of time. And I’m not so sure he’s all that interested. Then again, I can’t say that I’m on pins and needles either, waiting for him to regale me with his twenty-one year old self’s escapades.

Back in the day, I’d give a boyfriend the whole, “This is where I…” tour. It was cute and romantic and I judged him by how interested he was. The tour began at my elementary school, continuing on to middle school, and ending up at my high school. For the price of admission, you got to see such landmarks as the highway underpass where I was arrested for tagging, and the police station (which was also the deli and community center) where I was fingerprinted and where my first mug shots were taken.

If there was time, and that dopey puppy dog smile was still plastered on his face, I’d show him the auditorium where I starred in and directed several productions, as well as the softball field where a crush on my softball coach first bloomed.

What we’re interested in, with regards to the other person’s life before us, is not as abundant in our 30’s and 40’s, as when you meet someone in your teens and twenties. These tours (as fascinating as they are) aren’t as important to my relationships as they once were, nor do I find many requests for them. “Gee sweet pea, I’d love to see where you shoplifted that baseball hat you told me about on our first date.”

Face it, no one really cares. And that’s okay. In my last couple of relationships, tours were skipped and the parade of old photo albums were omitted. Your welcome fellas.

But then my mother opened her trap at Thanksgiving on Thursday. She wouldn’t stop singing my praises (and my mom can sing) to my lover about a couple of videos that I made for her and for my dad, for their 50th birthdays, that he HAD to see. No, he didn’t mother. We’ve been doing just fine without them. It’s probably me, but it feels strange to show my boyfriend, at 45 years old, something I made when I was 25. Yeah, it’s definitely me.

I wanted her to stop singing, so I borrowed the movies and last night we had a big Hollywood screening in our living room. I was so proud of them at the time, and I suppose I still am. They were raw, and technically crude, but creatively advanced. I don’t even know what that means. My boyfriend watched respectively with an occasional, “That’s adorable.” And random, “Who’s that?” and “Your thighs were thicker back then.”

I sensed a disconnect. Bored? I don’t know and it honestly didn’t matter. Where I would’ve taken it personally if he didn’t gush and goo over every frame, like when I was younger, (because it would’ve been a direct reflection on how he felt about me) it was no longer personal.

My past, as riveting, scintillating and illustrious as it is (was?) need not play a significant part in my present. All my lover needs to know about me, is what’s standing right in front of him, today, not back in 1992, when my thighs were thick, and I wore really big glasses. We’re both too busy living in the present, and there’s not enough mental bandwidth to care about every detail of our past lives.