la Ketch

my life story

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

if it's the last thing i ever do

This morning when I was walking to work from Grand Central this thought entered my mind, “This city is choking me.” This is not where my story begins but I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that I had this thought first thing.

It is by the way, choking me.

I got home from work today, this is about 1 hour ago mind you and I was tired and Eliott’s Polish au pair, Asia, was hanging out with us. She talks ninety miles an hour. She is never NOT talking. It is amazing to me that there is someone who talks more than I do. She can only be described as, ahem, a teenager. We hung out with her for a while and she showed me Eliott’s jumps. She sits in the door so that her back is against one side of the door way and her legs are up against the other side making a barrier and he jumps over her legs. He really catches air and I’d say he can jump about 2 ½ feet, which is pretty cute considering he’s less than 1 foot tall.

I digress.

Asia said she'd go on our walk with us and I said, “why don’t you stay here?” Because, you know, she's sweet but she's driving me nutz and so she walked us to the door of our building. Earlier, I had heard a bunch of yelling outside, sounded like some older kids yelling. Asia told me disdainfully that they were "rowdy drunks". She’s very judgmental towards sinners of any kind. Her mom is a religious freak. I see a rebellion in her future.

I got out side and the first thing I saw was a cop car. No idea why they were there. Their rollers weren’t flashing. They had just stoped their cruiser in the middle of the block and got out. I kept walking, didn’t think of it. Then I saw the kids up ahead of me, the rowdy drunks. Two guys and a girl. The girl was yelling at the cops, “HEELOO Officer!!” She was taunting them but this one kid, he was wearing a grey sweatshirt, was falling over and she was also sort of trying to help him. The other guy with them is like, “let’s get out of here. Whatya gonna do, piss on the wall? Are you gonna take a piss right here?” Well my friends, as it turns out, that’s exactly what he was going to do.

I had slowed my pace down quite a bit to take in the action and just as I passed, I got a fantastic view of this kid’s penis as he whipped it out and proceeded to pee all over the wall of the medical clinic two doors down from my apartment. He was swearing and doing this as a way to say something to the cops like, “fuck you cops, I’m not afraid of you. I’m pissing on this wall!” But the cops couldn't see. They were on the other side of the block by then and they could see the kids but they couldn't see him pissing on the wall because of the way his back was turned.

A lot of shit was going through my mind at this time and this just goes to show you that people are complex because I like to think of myself as very liberal. I like to think of myself as someone who has earthy, hippie even, sensibilities but sometimes I pull such raging conservative shit. This is often in conjunction with the police because unlike most citizens, I actually trust the police because my dad was a cop. I don’t like, love the police or anything but I respect them and I actually, unlike most citizens, believe that if I were in trouble, they would help me. Which is probably true considering my whiteness. What was going through my mind in this very moment though is, “how dare this kid be so arrogant. How dare he just whip it out like that right in front of those cops. He should be afraid of those cops. He’s breaking the law in ten different ways.”

This is the ever familiar point of the story where I actually float outside myself and watch the action. I no longer have control. I started screaming at the top of my lungs, “OFFICERS!! THIS GUY IS TAKING A PISS ON THE WALL!! HE IS EXPOSING HIMSELF! HE’S WASTED. THIS GUY IS WASTED!” The cops started walking over. The kid’s friends were pulling him away, Saying smart stuff to him like, “stop it man! You’re so busted. Get out of here.” The peeing kid stoped peeing, turned and stared righ at me. He was so drunk that his eyes were rolling, ROLLING in his head. I’m sure he was seeing at least three of me. He must have been 17 years old. Why was this kid this drunk at 5:30 pm on a Tuesday night? I hadn’t reminded myself at this point yet, that I had a tendency to get that drunk at that age, maybe not in broad daylight on the city streets but still.

I pissed this kid off royally (no pun intended). He was a little pit bull now, growling at me, spitting at my face as he screamed through his teeth, “you fucking BITCH. YOU FUCKING little, DO YOU WANT TO DIE? I’m GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU. I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!!!” His friends were dragging him away now and I was just walking away. I wanted to walk over to him, blow on him and watch him fall over. I’m looked him right in the eye the whole time he was screaming at me and then I said, “Have fun in jail.”

Am I fucking Dirty Harry? It was like my dad was speaking through me almost. He loved that shit so much. The low-lifes, the dirt bags, the scum of the earth . He loved to put them in jail. I interviewed him once for an article in our fourth grade paper and I asked him why he wanted to be a policeman and he told me, “because I love putting the bad guys in jail.” I was getting a little taste of that in this moment. I felt so safe because these cops were right behind me. One of the cops was putting on black leather gloves as he walked over. Why was he putting on the gloves? That part was weird. I got the feeling suddenly that these cops were like, showing off a little bit for me? Or something...

The kid finally looked at the cops walking toward him and tried to walk away. Whooah, waaay to late for that little buddy. I stoped walking away myself ‘cause I was thinking, the cops didn’t see him whip his dick out and piss on the building. I did. They might need me for their report. I stand there watching and things get weirder. This is what happens:

Cop #1: Get back here.

The kids stop walking.

Cop #2: Why you always gotta be such an asshole?

La Ketch’s Inner Monologue: He knows him.

Cop#1: Yeah why is it, every time I see this guy he’s being an asshole?

la Ketch’s inner monologue: Ok, now I’m seeing why, why he was so defiant to the cops. He has a history with them.

la Ketch: He also threatened me! He told me that he was going to kill me. Twice!

Cop #1: (to the peeing kid) Take off your sweatshirt.

Peeing kid: What?

Cop #1: Take off your sweatshirt and wipe up that piss. That’s what I’m gonna make you do. Take it off and wipe it up.

La ketch’s inner monologue: What? Dear lord. Why don’t they just write him a ticket?

I’ve switched sides immediately. This poor kid. What an upbringing he must have had and now they have to humiliate him?! What have I done?

The kid is scared now. He sobers up a bit. He’s faced out toward the street, the cops, me, everyone. He’s going to cry. His lip is quivering.

Cop #2: Take it off Asshole.

He takes it off.

Peeing kid: You want me to.. What do I do?

Cop#1: Wipe up that mess.

He does it. He wipes up the pee. I walk away pretty confused.

Why the fuck did I feel it was necessary to do that? What good did it do? Was I helping that kid? Is he really going to kill me?

I think there was a part of me that thought I was helping him. He needed to learn to respect authority, to know that next time, he won’t be wiping piss off the wall with a sweatshirt. He’ll be scrubbing the toilets in the hooskow. But God, that kid was so drunk, he’s not going to remember a damned thing. That is probably to my advantage considering the death threat but those cops didn't really teach him a lesson. All those cops taught that kid was to hate cops. They should have written him a ticket. They didn't need to taunt him and humiliate him. It's not their job to punish. That should be handled by the judge. He should get a ticket, go to court, tell his story GO TO JAIL. No, no, do community service or go to alcohol counseling or something. I understand the whole "punishment fits the crime" thing but golly. I don't know.

They didn't need my testimony because they never wrote a report. I remember my dad telling me about that too. So much about being a cop is paperwork and it's really boring. A lot of times the cops will let you off with a warning not because they are being nice but because they don't want to write a report.

As I walked along, playing it all over again in my mind, I noticed that Asia was suddenly walking next to me. She'd see the whole thing from the door way and she followed after me and I felt even worse knowing that. She says to me, “those are bad kids.” And I say to her, “Yeah, I guess they are.” We don’t really talk until we reach the edge of the park and I say, “You should walk back home.” I’m too upset to hang with her. “But be really careful walking back.” And she’s says, “Ok, don’t worry. I’ll be careful.”


At 4:58 PM, Blogger louella said...

holy cats.

working at the school in harlem i had some days like that, where i was so mad at one of my kids for some totally unacceptable shit, and then they'd get in trouble, but would get so belittled, so heaped-shame-on that i'd change from being angered by their actions to outraged on their behalf.

a lot of times i feel like the city's choking me too, but yesterday you definitely got the worst of it.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger A Large Slice of Cake said...

I actually think wiping up the piss was a perfect consequence, though I agree that cops shouldn't administer punishment. But wouldn't it be great if, instead of being locked up in expensive, demeaning prison systems, people paid for their crimes by somehow righting the wrong. Or in this case, wiping it.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger pete. said...

I love this story. It would make a great (long) poem.

You're a natch, la Ketch.

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I like this story a lot--it's very moving.

Speaking of moving, maybe you could try another neighborhood? You don't have to move to CG, where everybody else seems to be settling, but maybe it'd be worth the pain and hassle of moving for a change in atmosphere.


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