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.


Ellen Hartman said...

Feel free to discuss the fashion flaws happening in that video.


Mary Preston said...

I have a list of flaws that would take forever to name. Number one would have to be I DON'T TOLERATE FOOLS.

Scarlet Wilson said...

What a brilliant post!
Biggest flaw - absolutely NO patience. Kind of hard when you're the mother of two boys and a nurse.

Funny thing is, I have all the patience in the world for my patients. But for my kids? for myself? For my family? Or for perfect strangers? Not a bit!

Sonya said...

You don’t eat beets? You’d never survive in my Ukrainian refugee community then!

Two decades ago my father was given a parking ticket in a place where there was not a single “No Parking” sign, or anything like that. He argued it in court and won.
I’d never be brave enough.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Marybelle--I sympathize with your flaw. I also have some career advice for you. Don't become a judge in the town court.


Ellen Hartman said...

Scarlet--wow. I have always thought nurses must be the most patient people in the world. I give you enormous credit for being patient at work. That is one job I really wouldn't be able to do and it's so important, so thank you!

Ellen Hartman said...

Sonya--I tried with the beets. I really did. :-)

I don't think I'd have been able to argue either. I think if the judge had asked me what I had to say for myself, I'd have said, "Where do I pay my fine?"

It really was fascinating to watch the other people stick up for themselves.

liztalley said...

LOL! Oh, heavens, Ellen. I think you just made my day with this post. And Sonya's response to your not eating beets...LOL. This was great. You always make me laugh, lady.

Flaws? Me?

Um, I'm enormously bossy, mostly because I know best. I'm slightly selfish with my time. I'm sometimes lazy when it comes to housework. Okay, mostly lazy. You know, this list could get long, so I'll just stop here.

And ther were plenty of fashion crimes in that fact, most of the 70s was one big ol' fashion crime.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Liz!

You said Um, I'm enormously bossy, mostly because I know best.

I actually had that in my list of flaws, too, but then I decided it's not really a flaw. You can't help being awesome, you know?

Also, in my opinion, the fashion crimes in the video, while huge, are ever so slightly mitigated by Sonny and Cher's absolute JOY in themselves. He has THAT haircut and he still truly believes he's hot. Hee.

Ellen Hartman said...

Also, Liz--I think I've seen several Hollywood starlets wearing Sonny's fur vest this season. It's baaaack!

Jeannie Watt said...

Hey--I have one of those vests. I wear it proudly.

Ellen Hartman said...

Jeannie--But do you wear it on the Ed Sullivan show?


Jeannie Watt said...

Funny that you should ask...

Ellen Hartman said...


See? That's why I love this blog. I'm off to work and I'm laughing.

You guys are way better than my traffic court friends when it comes to entertaining me.

Thanks, everyone!

Jeannie Watt said...

I'm here with a real flaw, besides a giant fake fur vest, which were also featured proudly on the Jack Webb hippies on Dragnet. Love those hippies. Short haircuts, big fur vests, suede boots that laced to the knee...

Anyway, back to the flaw. I'm a procrastinator. In fact, I can't figure out why I'm hear so early, when I could have checked in later...oh yeah. I'm putting off getting ready for work.

Big fur vest, here I come.

mary sullivan said...

Fabulous post, Ellen! Love your story about going to court.

I don't think there's enough room or time to list all of my faults ;-) but a couple of my biggies are hating doing both housework and laundry, so sometimes I push the envelope on how long I let things ride. I've let it go so long this time that both today AND tomorrow are laundry days ;-(

Oh! and I NEVER work out as much as I should. And I like to eat yummy food. My poor waistline...

Anonymous said...

Hilarious Ellen! I have been to court and I can tell you I did NOT have as good a sense of humor about it. But my police man didn't file his papers either, so I got off too. :)

My biggest flaw is that I expect things to go like I expect them to. When they don't, I get really irritated. Like when I plan to sit down and write for an hour, invariably, that's when my son announces he has homework and he needs help. Instant irritation.

I'm thinking about a writing hat. If I'm wearing it, don't bother me. Do you think that would work and would anyone be upset if I wore it for eighteen hours a day??

Rula Sinara said...

Groovy post! LOL. It made my day :)

My flaws...pretty much everything you said. I can't lie. I've lugged my kids back into a grocery store once, when I realized the checkout person forgot to ring up an item.

I got stopped once for speeding. Emphasis on once. I was driving on a stretch of road in the middle of nowhere (in TX)...heading home from college. The only place in sight was a McDonalds just off the next exit. When the officer asked me if there was a reason I was speeding, at first I was shocked that he was giving me a way out. I looked at the McD and all sorts of excuses came to mind...most revolving around emergencies and bathrooms. (Insert Clint Eastwood gun showdown know the one I mean). I eyed the officer. He eyed me. I eyed the McD's...then the officer. Then I squeaked, "No sir. No reason."

I did try to stand up for myself in highschool. My mom's alarm didn't go off and I was late to school by 5 min. As I stood behind a few other girls in the Dean's office to get my sentence (strict school), I listened to all the lame lies/excuses they gave. It was so obvious they were lying...and they got off without detention. I walked up and told the truth...and got detention. So I flat out told the secretary that I was getting punished for telling the truth. She just dismissed me. But she didn't break me. Still can't lie worth a darn (unless it's for something like an April fool's joke).

Oh, and I hate cheaters. I'm really not competetive...just beat me without cheating!

And after this I promise I'll shut up (I didn't list talking as a fault did I?). I really had to laugh at your stalker encounter. Last night I was driving my kids to basketball practice and my 7yo was playing a new DS game...something to do with dinosaurs and archeology. He says (grinning), "You know what the coolest thing about this game is? You get a girlfriend and she follows you everywhere." My 11 yo yells (in the funniest tone), "That's not a girlfriend you dork! That's a stalker!!!" LOL.

Okay, I'll stop now. I really have a lot of writing to do. What was that Jeannie said about procrastination? I'm blaming you, Ellen, for distracting me with such a fun post :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellen.

Love you post. Befriending a stalker - I laughed until tears were in my eyes. I have so many flaws, but the first one I thought of is driving too fast. I tend to go 5-10 miles over the speed limit, but I am not reckless and I do not talk on a cell phone while driving.

EllenToo said...

Loved your post...made me think about sitting in the courtroom listening to people try to talk their way out of jury duty.

I have lots of flaws but my number one flaw I share with Jeannie ~ I am a procrastinator.

Mary Brady said...

So yesterday, I said to myself, Ellen Hartman's on tomorrow and she is usually most entertaining. I wasn't disappointed. Still laughing

I heard the results of a study once that discussed the reaction between women and men when asked to list their flaws. As this was a research questionnaire we women were entirely honest. We (almost eagerly)made lists including many of the items on your list, Ellen, and things like our saddlebag thighs, our crooked nose (which no one can really discern), etc. The most common answer from men was "Flaws?"

Great post. Thanks for the entertainment and freedom to enjoy ABBA and Cher (who has no flaws worth mentioning).

Anonymous said...

Funny post, Ellen. Thanks for the laugh.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Kristin--Glad you got a laugh. I was hoping that would happen. ;-)

Ellen Hartman said...

Hello Mary!

I'm glad you've brought the science to our blog today. I enjoy science and the study you mentioned sounds just about right. ;-)

Cher. I showed the video to my 11-year-old fashionista son this morning. He's so disturbed by Sonny's hairdo, but he approved of Cher. I think this means I'm raising him right.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Ellen--Procrastination??? I've never heard of this.

Ha. It's probably my biggest flaw, too.

If anyone was hanging around here last night, I had a different blog written and scheduled to post at midnight. I meant to edit it, but I got distracted, then I got more distracted, and by the time I got back, it had posted! I decided I didn't like it so I deleted it and wrote this one. Do you think I could have done any of this during daylight hours? Would have been nice. Sigh.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Tammy--I love telling the stalker story. It's so perfect it sounds made up. Glad you liked it.

I'm glad someone finally mentioned a flaw I don't share. I've had to own up to an awful lot of things this morning, but speeding isn't one of them. In fact, I probably irritate people because I drive too slowly.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Rula--so nice to see you. :-)

I have a friend who got stopped for speeding in Oklahoma. He was going really fast. The officer said, "What do you boys think you is? A rocket?"

I love your story about speeding. I'd have done exactly what you did. 'Fessed up. I'm with you on the second part, too, I'm an excellent liar when it's all in fun.

Love your sons' conversation. Too cute (and astute).

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Kat,

Yay for getting off the legal way!

I definitely think you should try a writing hat. I have a tiara. When I have it on, I ALWAYS get way more respect than is my normal experience. Maybe you should get a fedora or something like an old-fashioned reporter.

Send us photos when you've worked this out. ;-)

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Mary,

Your comment about housework and procrastination made me laugh. :-)

I've let it go so long this time that both today AND tomorrow are laundry days.

Sounds like a job for the Fluff and Fold service at the laundry mat. They have the equipment for those bigger jobs.

Too funny!

Ellen Hartman said...

Jeannie--I've had such a nice morning imagining you teaching the teenagers while wearing a fake fur vest.

My son's English teacher has a style blog. She posts her outfits every day. I got a call from school that he wasn't in her class so I asked him what happened. He said he was there, she must have marked him absent by mistake.

I believed him, but just as a joke, I pretended not to. I said, "I'm going to check her style blog to see if you were really there. What was she wearing today?"

He said, "A wolf."

Sure enough, his teacher had some big fake fur shrug on.

That story still makes me laugh. A wolf...

FYI: It was not my fashionista son. It was the oblivious one.

Jackie S. said...

Ellen, you have to try the beets....again...they are so good for your liver! (another author stated that on her blog) She just salts her; I eat mine plain or with ranch dressing!! lol

JV said...

Oh, Ellen, you always make me laugh! I love it that you were in court for maybe 10 minutes before you befriended the stalker. That could come back to bite you in the butt, especially if he's into romance authors.

As for your criminal #2, I'm guessing there was more to her story than just "being with" the moon. I'm guessing that she was under the influence of some of her clothing (or a related species) that had caught fire, the smoke from which having invaded her lungs. However, more power to her for getting the charge reduced!

As for criminal #3, if it wasn't him, then who was the naked old guy they cited, and why was this guy showing up in court in his place? (Did they really just issue him a citation, rather than arrest him, by the way?) You gotta love a mistaken identity defense when, presumably, the police walked up to him while naked to make the citation or arrest. He gets points for creativity, though.

As for your flaws, we share a disdain for beets in all their forms. Ick! I, too, am often late (though, in my defense, I never was before I got married), and, in terms of positive traits, I am also not a cheater. I, too, like "I've Got You Babe" and some ABBA ("The Visitors" aka "Cracking Up" in particular) and REO Speedwagon (though some would consider those flaws).

The only "crime" I can think of is that I have been cited several times in the last couple of years for grass that's too high and weeds, etc., on my rental property. It drives me crazy since, by law, I can't just go onto property I've rented out and take care of it. Besides, we very explicitly make it clear to renters that they are responsible for keeping the lawn mowed and in good shape. Yet, I get cited for it, and the fine is $100 a day if it isn't taken care of by the deadline. Yikes!

So, there's another flaw. I'm a pushover, a sucker, a doormat. I was never cut out to be a landlord. Even though our renter is out of a job and hasn't paid us in going on 3 months, I can't evict him in cold weather with the holidays coming on. He's a nice guy (despite his failure to keep the lawn mowed), and he has a dog that would, I suspect, go to the pound if he were evicted. So, what's a body to do?

Na said...

I think admitting you have flaws is the first them in fixing them. I'm not perfect and some flaws I embrace while others I hope to banish. My temper is like a kettle, quick to heat and quick to cool. Another is I procastinate a lot. I'm eorking on not letting my temper get the best of me.

JV said...

P.S. Procrastination!!!! Oh, my. How did I ever leave that off my list of flaws?

Just to give you an example, when my daughter was in elementary school, I was the president of the PTA (read: I WAS the PTA). I was so busy that I didn't have time for any of that pesky housework, which I put off for as long as possible even when I have plenty of time -- so long that my husband had a habit of letting me know when he was down to one or two pairs of clean underwear.

One morning, while I was making breakfast and putting together lunches for DH and DD, my hubby came downstairs stark naked and said, "I am completely out of underwear!" I asked him if he'd looked in the dryer, and he said, "Are we reduced to dressing out of the dryer now?" I told him that, yes, yes we were. I'm not proud of it, but it was true.

Oh, and if you do take on any more stalkers, hopefully they'll be benign, like the stalker in my daughter's video: Too funny!

alinaduffer said...

Great post Ellen. My flaws, lets see. I sing out loud when wearing my ipod, drives my kids and hubby nuts, lol. I dont eat alot of things most people eat, Mayo, ranch, cottage cheese, tarter sauce, I really could go on and on. I am stubborn as hell. I loose my patience easy, sometimes. I am an attention hog, I love being hugged and kissed and it sometimes drives my hubby nuts. But all in all it could be worse, lol!

As for traffic stories I dont have any but my sister just got a $450 ticket a couple of weeks ago that I think she should fight. She was making a right turn, she had the green light, so she went for it. A guy on a bike came in to the crosswalk after she was already turning. She stopped so she didnt hit the idiot, but a cop saw and gave her a ticket. He said pedestrians have the right of way. I think its just plain stupid. She had the green light and there was no walk sign for people at this corner. I dont know if she will fight it or not, but I would.

Have a great day!

Kaelee said...

I eat beets but most of the other flaws mentioned show up once in a while. I have never worried much about fashion, for example, I just wear comfortable things.

I totally put things off. My plant on the top shelf falls off(It dries out and the foliage is heavier than the potting soil) and then I water my plants. I run out of underwear and then do laundry.

On the highway I'm usually a bit over the speed limit. I have only had one speeding ticket though. My girlfriend had got stopped the day before and cried her way out of the ticket. I thought about crying for two seconds and started laughing instead. I'm amazed the cop didn't ask me if I was sober.

I'm totally disorganized most of the time.

How can listing one's flaws be so entertaining? Thanks for all the chuckles everyone.

Snookie said...

Loved that post! My biggest flaw... procrastination, like right now I'm on this site instead of doing what I need to do! I just keep putting things off unitl deadlines bite me :)

I've been to traffic court. Went to fight photographed ticket and all cases were dismissed before I even went before the judge!

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Jackie,

Ranch dressing, you say? That's tempting. However, I think I will dip my carrot sticks, not my beets. ;-)

I continue to be suckered into trying them in new ways. This blog is determined that I will eat my beets. I wonder if you're all actually fake accounts created by my mother.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi JV,

I love your daughter's video. Yep, a benign stalker is the only kind I want.

I have the same question about criminal #3. Honestly, none of them were any good with their cover stories. They all needed a good writer to help them think of more convincing lies.

"Wasn't me." Hee.

My offspring think it's perfectly normal to dress out of the dryer. I hope no one tells them this is a bad thing. ;-)

P.S. I bow before anyone who is the PTA prez. That is a thankless and intense volunteer job, for sure.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Na,

I agree that it's good to be aware of my flaws. Sometimes I'm able to avoid them. Not often, but with effort!

Good luck to you.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Alina,

Wow. I hope your sister has good luck. That's a very big fine.

I share so many of your "flaws," but they're not that bad, right? The one you mentioned that I hadn't thought of is being stubborn. I'm stubborn, too. Sometimes it's a good thing, though. Anyone who wants to get published probably needs at least a little bit of it.


Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Kaelee,

I loved Flaw Day on the blog. Everyone here is very entertaining. (And startlingly honest.) ;-)

I love your examples of putting things off. We only have one plant and it rarely gets water. I think of it as my way of supporting the plant to be tougher. We've had it for years, so I think my efforts are working!

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Snookie,

Yay for dismissed charges!! I love that.

I'm pleased to contribute to your procrastination. I would hate it if everyone became uber-efficient and we didn't get to hang out on the blog anymore.

Don't go changing...

Marcie said...

Flaws? Who me?

A couple months after I got a (deserved) speeding ticket, I was pulled over again (different town). When the highway patrolman asked if I had any recent tickets, I said yes. I was afraid to say no because I figured he had a way of checking and then would haul me off to jail for lying!

Miss you on the Super thread! Come back and play. I'll make sure noone throws sand at you. If they do, I'll throw it back.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Marcie,

Well...every one of my town court buddies lied and not a single one of them got hauled off to jail. Still, I understand the fear. I don't lie much either.

I miss the Super thread, too. We've had a bunch of changes at our house and my time has been very tight. I do have a plan that after 12/5, I'm going to be able to start coming by on a regular basis again. I'm lonely!

Thanks for coming here to play. :-)

Unknown said...

Oh you sound just like me. I can't spell either and don't eat beets. Although I usually get to places on time.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Virginia,

I'm glad I'm not the only one not eating beets. I like company in my flaws.

As one poor speller to another, I'll tell you that I've been paranoid about beets vs. beats all day. I know I'm doing it right, but there's that little voice that second guesses because I'm just not confident about my spelling.

I love this quote from Whinnie-the-Pooh, "It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places."

Jeannie Watt said...

Wearing a wolf. I love it. :-D

Chelle Sandell said...

I just knew we were soul sistahs. ;) Beets...eeeeewwww. ABBA, oh yeah. And I'm always scared karma will bite me on the butt if I don't return overpaid change. Ha. And Mr. Chelle will be the first to tell on me about being late. His big pet peeve. I was late to our wedding. LOL.

Ellen Hartman said...

Jeannie--did you wear your vest?

Hi Chelle--I was on time for my wedding. ;-) The musicians had a gig after ours and they were going to leave if we didn't finish on time.

I don't care if you tell me about your flaws, but please...Mr. Chelle does not have peeves. That would be beneath him.

linda s said...

Happy face, still laughing.

So many flaws so little space. I am mule dragging stubborn and No is one of my fav words. I may for have matured past the terrible twos. Tenacious - is that a flaw?
Perception problems - An inability to see all the dog hair on the rugs. Major flaw. It may also extend to an inability to see piles of dishes in the sink.
My daughter says giving grandbaby Cheetos before dinner is a flaw but really it is grandmother's perogative.
Fashion Flaws??? What fashion flaws?

I was nine months pregnant I was selected for jury duty which was scheduled 400 miles away in the north with winter roads conditions. I replied I would be happy to comply but I would be nursing my two month old daughter during the trial. I got return mail letter excusing me from duty.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Linda,

You've got the right idea. Identify a potential flaw and then find a more respectable synonym. I like tenacious. It's an excellent trait.

Your jury duty story is a good one. I was called for jury duty last year and I was extremely insulted when they didn't pick me. I wanted to know what jury duty was like because I've never done it.

Chelle Sandell said...

:D You are correct. I got lucky when blessed with a hubby like Mr. Chelle.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit my flaws include having no fashion or shopping gene in my body! I definitely need the help of Clinton and Stacey. Carol

Kimberly Van Meter said...

OMG Ellen! I laughed so hard at your stalker. I always forget to stop by the blog (Bad Kim!) but the promise of your post lured me back in. Fabulous!

Flaws? Hmm...if you asked my husband the list might be endless. But for me, I'd say if I were being HONEST...I have no flaws. Bwahhhhh!

Ellen Hartman said...

Hello Latecomers!

Carol--my sister has sent me in as a What Not to Wear Candidate so often I'm surprised they don't just pick me out of pity. (On her.) Not having a shopping gene is not a flaw, my friend. ;-)

Kim, Kim,'re too funny. Of course, you don't have flaws. Don't ever let anyone tell you different.

(Not even your hubby. Who doesn't appear to have many flaws either.)

Dragan said...

So funny.I just love the video as well as article.

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