Jail Time

July 18, 2012
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“9, 10.” Grant Hurley replaced the 145 lb. bar and stayed on the bench for a minute, breathing and thinking about how “big” he was getting. That was Grant’s plan. To get “big.” He had gotten into Williams early and planned to coast through the latter half of his senior year, clocking countless hours in the gym to get big and to score girls. After squash season had ended, Grant officially checked out of all obligations and settled into a routine devoid of responsibilities.
By some odd stroke of luck, Grant had been elected senior class president of Roosevelt High School, in Minneapolis, the previous spring. He had never been terribly popular or charismatic. He had never gone to parties or ran in circles with the coolest kids. Now, however, with time on his hands and not enough motivation to use it productively, Grant found himself floating between crowds. He proclaimed himself a “social drinker” and knocked back a few beers at “bro nights.” He even smoked a joint once. His squash companions were dismayed. His newly formed bromances were forced. Girls were only slightly more enticed. Grant found himself evading an essential question: did he want to be cool or not?
Grant needed a mentor. Like a misguided fledgling, he needed to be taken under some mature, well-adjusted bird’s wing. Though the precocious girls in his grade were aware of this need and repeated it to each other in condescending confidence, Grant did not share their understanding. Instead, he embraced every moment of his jaunt with coolness and hoped to continue the affair as long as he could.
So Grant dutifully did his bench pressing and installed himself as a permanent fixture at his gym. Full of his mom’s friends and his friends’s moms, the gym was a shiny, beautiful peoples’s establishment that promised Pilates-toned legs to middle-aged housewives and rippling forearms to ROTC vets still suffering from Afghanistan-induced PTSD. These guys were absolutely enormous. Grant would strike up the occasional conversation with one of the bandana-and-wife-beater-clad men, receive a few mid-shoulder shrugs, and emerge feeling totally enlightened and toughened up.

As May began and the prospect of summer became tangible, Grant began to tire of the monotony of the gym and his stress-free life. On the first Saturday in May, Grant and one of his “bros,” Kirkwood (Kirk for all practical purposes), ventured to the gym for another afternoon of lifting and accessing subverted manliness. The boys followed their ROTC role models around the different sections of the gym until conversation seemed inevitable, at which point, the boys listened with wide eyes to the muscled men recount their various visits to the jail house.

“Grant couldn't get himself arrested if he tried!” Kirk slapped palms with the men, beaming with pride as they approved of his exceptional comment. His wince was hardly noticeable. Regardless, “cool” Grant wasn’t having it. He and Kirk had only recently started hanging out and who knew what could happen to Grant’s recently acquired status if Kirk started sharing the seriously false conclusion that Grant was super uncool?

“Give me three hours.”

Grant replaced his weights and headed for the locker room, finishing off his grossly overpriced and over-electrolyted beverage en route. He power-walked out of the gym (obeying the signs begging him to refrain from running) and jumped into his mom’s red Beamer. The car represented Grant straddling the “cool fence” once again. The Beamer was a good-looking car, but it had that distinctly mom-ish feel that was inescapable. Grant rolled down the windows and cranked the volume on the car’s classy control panel so he could slap to his cool rap music on his way down to the small city center.

Grant pulled into a city parking lot and defiantly did not put in the 25 cents that would have allowed him 22 minutes in the lot. Instead, he grabbed a baseball (a squash ball wouldn’t quite do the trick) from the trunk, slammed the car doors, and strutted off, twirling his purple Williams lanyard. Grant walked two minutes to Sam’s, an ice cream shop that had existed longer than Grant had. Sam Walters and his wife, Jean, were about the nicest people ever, but Grant was on a mission and two nice old people were hardly going to stand in his way. Grant stood on the edge of the sidewalk and hurled the baseball as hard as he could into Sam’s front window. The effect was dazzling. Glass shards flew in all directions, landing on unlucky passersby and lying in wait under car tires. But what the hell had he done? Before Grant could consider the question in great detail, Mrs. Walters, the woman who owned the place, ran out onto the sidewalk to survey the damage. Grant tried to look like an honest delinquent, but before the cops were called and before Grant was arrested and informed of his rights, Mrs. Walters leaned over and whispered, “thanks to your rebellious streak, I will finally get my remodel!”

Grant responded with an unintelligible “huh?” before Mrs. Walters erupted with happiness.

“Yes, dear. I’ve wanted to remodel this place for years but Mr. Walters never approved, with the economy being what it is. But the two of us made a deal that as soon as anything major needed repairing, we would tear the whole place apart and start fresh!”

Grant only nodded, both flabbergasted and the slightest bit relieved.

“Go home dear. I won’t press charges, but if you hang around, someone else might get riled up. And, thank you again!”

Grant couldn't believe how terribly unsuccessful his dramatic arrest attempt had been.

Not wasting any time, as Kirk and the guys at the gym were surely anticipating his one phone call, Grant sprinted back to his mom’s car and cranked his 50 Cent just a touch louder, invigorated by his defeat and motivated to try harder. Struck by brilliance a few blocks down the road, Grant made a quick (and probably illegal) u-turn to head toward school. There was an awful intersection where Grant’s mom had been hit a few years back because the intersection was marked by a yield sign, instead of a stop sign, and oncoming traffic was obscured by excessive foliage. Some jerk in a pickup had barreled through the yield sign and hit Mrs. Hurley in her previous Beamer. On Saturdays, however, the oncoming traffic out of the school was nonexistent. Grant drove up to the yield (not stop) sign and put the car in park, opening all of the windows and the sunroof and blasting Lil Wayne for all of the persnickety neighbors to appreciate. He sat there for about five minutes until cars started to stack up behind him. They began to honk and complain, but they couldn’t maneuver around Grant’s pulsating vehicle because traffic in the other direction remained just consistent enough to prevent passing. After about 15 minutes of torturous pretending that he was having an awesome time partying in his ridiculously cool vehicle, Grant was relieved to see a cop car pulling up.

“Finally,” he thought. Grant was ready to get this little experiment over with.

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to please step out of your vehicle. Your parking here is a severe traffic violation and I’m afraid that the customary punishment for this sort of infraction far exceeds a normal citation.”

Grant was just beginning to close his sunroof and collect his things for jail, tuning the officer out entirely, when the police officer’s voice surged up several decibels and he exclaimed “but I have never seen such brilliant youth advocacy and such an innovative protesting strategy from your sorely apathetic generation! Well done, son. We do need a stop sign here, and your demonstration has prompted the city to take action after all of these years with the yield sign.” Grant shook his head in disbelief.
“You will also receive an invitation to the Civil Citizens of Service luncheon scheduled for next week. Thank you again for all of your help in making our city just the slightest bit safer.”

“Oh, and I love Lil Wayne. Lollipop is my jam.”

Grant was discouraged. How hard was it to get arrested in this town? And why were cops listening to Lil Wayne?

Grant had wanted to do something awesome and creative to get himself arrested, but with the clock ticking and Kirk waiting, Grant decided to try something elementary. He booked it to Toys “R” Us, strode confidently into the store, headed for the section with the Action Figures, and grabbed a limited edition set of Battlestar Galactica little plastic men.

Grant powered to the exit and as soon as he stepped through the sensors, they started screaming and flashing red. Grant waited, knowing a sales associate in a festive polo shirt would be there in a jiff. “Brittany” rushed over and snatched the set from Grant’s hands.

“Sir, were you attempting to take this out of the store without purchasing it?”

Before Grant could answer the obvious question for poor “Brittany,” an announcement boomed over the loudspeaker.

“All Battlestar Galactica Action Figure sets have been recalled for containing a lead paint compound. Sales associates, proceed accordingly.”

“Brittany” held the set tightly against her chest and pivoted toward her register.

“Wait!” Grant wasn’t about to let himself get off this easy.

“You should go, sir. Imagine the trouble I could get in if I let you bring home these toxic dolls.”

Action Figures, not dolls. Grant couldn’t help but to editorialize. HE was the one who was supposed to get in trouble! “Brittany” was supposed to ship him right of to Juvie.

Grant was done, enough wasting his beautiful Saturday afternoon. He couldn’t go back to the gym to face his buddies, so he climbed into the car and headed home, his speakers eerily silent.

He drove around Lake Calhoun and started down East Lake Street, dreading Monday morning’s inevitable jeers. Grant noticed a cop flashing his lights behind him, but figured the cop must be targeting a more badass kid. The lights persisted, however, and the cop turned on his siren, so Grant obediently pulled over. The policeman stepped out of his car and Grant wracked his brain for what he possibly could have been doing.

“Young man, do you know what kind of car this is?”

“Uh, my mom’s BMW?”

“It’s a red car.”

“Well, yeah. She’s a real estate agent and needs a flashy car, you know, to attract clients.”

“Minneapolis has an enforced law against driving red cars down Lake Streets, East and West.”

Grant stared at the officer in disbelief.

“Honestly son. Look it up if you want to. Regardless, I’m going to have to take you down to the station. And the fact that this is your mother’s car makes the situation all the more serious. Please lock your vehicle and come with me.”

In a state of shock, Grant followed the police officer to the flashing car and was ushered into the back seat.

He’d done it.

*The “no red cars on Lake Street” law exists.

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