Thursday, November 17, 2011

Living in Ellen’s Shadow

Jeannie Watt

Why, oh why, do I sign up to blog the day after Ellen? I have searched my memory for anything even close to an interesting court appearance and the only thing I can think of is the time I fainted in the grocery store, woke up with my head in the assistant manager’s lap mere nanoseconds before the kid pushing the carts in from outside ran over my shins.

I’ve mentioned that before, right? It sticks with me as one of my more memorable and unique experiences and I’ll no doubt repeat that story over and over well into senility. (That’s it, child, come sit beside me while I tell you about what happened to me at the grocery back in the winter of ‘89…) But other than that, no rolling stops--except for the one my shins were involved in. No court dates. Nothing.

I’ve only gotten one ticket in my life—for parking in the invisible red zone in Ely, Nevada. Now the curb wasn’t actually painted red at the time, but when I pointed this out, the officer explained that I should have known it was a red zone. Why? Well, because everyone in town knew it was a red zone. Okay. I paid the ticket, but had I read Ellen’s blog first, I would have gone to court. Can you imagine the characters I would have met in a place where it’s assumed that you know about the invisible red zone and get a ticket when you don’t?

I  have books to give away and we have a new Kindle drawing, so I need some comments. To be in the drawing for the Kindle and for an autographed copy of my December release The Baby Truce (two separate drawings, by the way) please complete this sentence:

The story I’m most likely to tell into old age is about the time when: ________________.

You can tease us or flesh it out. Your choice. Does this make anyone but me think of the Newlywed Game?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crime and Punishment

Ellen Hartman

I'm a woman with flaws. I won't lie about it.

I am a bad speller. I make snap judgments. I like ABBA and REO Speedwagon and I listen to "I've Got You Babe" when I'm sad. I lose my temper. I hold grudges like nobody's business. I don't eat beets. (Not even roasted.) I'm often late and I don't usually feel bad about it.

Flaws. I have them, for sure.

But one thing I'm not is a cheater. I pay my taxes. I wait in line. When the ball gets stuck in the water hazard at miniature golf, I add a stroke to my total. I hand back the extra money when the teenager at McDonald's gives me more change than he should.

I got pulled over by a police officer who said I'd run a stop sign. This particular stop sign is in a "historic" neighborhood. It's just past a one-lane bridge on a twisty road where modern cars really don't fit side by side. (See photo.) I'm a slow driver to begin with and this neighborhood is really not meant for recklessness. I was shocked that the officer said I hadn't stopped. I didn't argue, though, because I figured he's the police. If he said I didn't stop, I didn't stop.

Then he said if I wanted to dispute the ticket, I could go to town court. I couldn't understand why or how I'd dispute it. The whole thing seemed straightforward. He said I didn't stop. He gave me a ticket. I should pay it. But then I got curious. I'd never been to court and I wanted to see what went on. (I'm a writer. Curiosity comes with the job.) So I went to court. 

Court was awesome. While there, I met a whole room of cheaters and liars and oh-my-goodness-are-you-for-real characters. I would have paid good money for this kind of entertainment.

Criminal #1: I was a little late (see list of flaws) and I sat down without signing in because I wasn't there when they read the rules. This very nice man tapped me on the shoulder and whispered that I needed to sign in. He walked me over to the registrar and showed me what to do with my papers. Then we sat down together and he made a funny little joke that set me totally at ease. I thought the people in town court must all be lovely. We might run stop signs, but we were basically decent.

My new friend got called to the front. Guess what his crime was?


That's right. I'd been amongst the criminals for less than ten minutes and I'd already befriended a stalker.

Criminal #2: Next up was a young woman dressed head to toe in hemp, carrying a hemp purse, and wearing a big, floppy sun hat. Indoors. At night. (I live in a college town. Lots of hippies.) Her crime? Being parked on the road in the state park after dark. The judge asked her what she had to say for herself.

Hippie Chick said, "Well, I was driving along and I was trying to leave the park because it was getting late and you can't be there after dark. But the moon was so beautiful, I had to get out of my car and be with it. So I went into the field and just looked at the moon and that's when I got arrested."

I thought she laid it on a bit thick, but the judge reduced the charges.

Criminal #3: The last guy called was an older man, skinny with a gray scraggly beard and long, unbrushed gray hair. He'd been nabbed for being naked in a different state park. When the judge asked him if he could explain himself, the guy said, "It wasn't me."

His charges were not reduced even though I thought that was a very good answer.

What about my case? Well, the police officer did not file his papers properly so my charges were dismissed without me having to open my mouth.Which was a good thing because I hadn't given one second of thought to what I should say.

What about all of you? What are your flaws? Do you have a crime story? Maybe you, too, have been falsely accused? I want to hear all about it.

In case any of you share my flawed taste in music, have a little bonus Sonny and Cher.

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