You know it’s a real party when …

“Look, boys, someone called the cops on your parents!” I hollered as soon as we walked in the door, flashing the picture on my phone at anyone who cared to look.

Mike heaved one of his big sighs. He should have seen this coming. On the way home, he’d lobbied against telling the boys about the cops, an idea with which I was not fully on board. I’d been looking forward to earning a little cred. Mike worried about getting into a sort of one-upmanship thing with the kids.

But then I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone as we walked in the house. Up pops a selfie of our hostess with the cops who crashed her backyard party. What was I supposed to do, besides gloat confess?

Sadly, people were under-impressed. The fact that we were rolling in somewhere around eleven probably stripped us of some of the cred I’d hoped to earn.

cops… And I guess serious badasses don’t actually smile that big for a photo op in the middle of a bust.

If we really get down to it, it wasn’t actually a bust, since no one was hauled away in cuffs or anything. There was something about a noise ordinance and some fussy neighbors and a band that continued to play a full 11 minutes after the sun set. Which I guess is our town’s definition of “shenanigans.”

When I was Jack’s age, in an even smaller town with no noise ordinance, there were a few instances where the police were summoned to soirées at which I happened to be in attendance. Although I wasn’t much into causing a ruckus, I ran with a crowd that considered it their prime directive.

I guess I was also into the habit of well-timed, bathroom breaks, because I always seemed to be out of the room when the police arrived.

I’d emerge to find everyone looking dejected, holding pink slips of paper, bottles and plastic cups upended. It didn’t take more than one or two such episodes before my overactive bladder earned me a reputation for predicting when a party was about to end, or should have if anyone was paying attention.

In college the idea I had of myself as someone who could always miraculously avoid trouble was crushed one warm afternoon when I joined a group of friends at the beach. We were all packed into the back of someone’s car, and each person as she filed out the door, turned to me and said “here, hold my beer,” which is almost always a sign that stupid is about to happen.

That’s how I went from being known as the girl with the overactive bladder and sixth sense to one who is either the most gullible person on the planet, or the thirstiest. Either way, the Garfield County sheriff’s deputies probably had a story going for awhile about a throng of empty-handed, giggly adolescents emerging like clowns from the back of a circus car, followed by me, juggling at least four open cans of beer that weren’t mine (I swear), and then standing there, sputtering in a circle of uniformed officers.

That remains my only real run-in with authority, resulting in a fine and six weeks of “alcohol class” with a bunch of drunk-driving offenders, all of us watching reel after horrific reel of car accident footage and gut-wrenching interviews with survivors. I have always wondered at the reasoning behind assigning me to that class when my infraction had nothing to do with driving, whether in a circus or not. Impaired or otherwise.

I’m guessing they didn’t have a class specifically for clown car beer can jugglers.

Flash-forward 30 or so years, and Mike and I were among an entirely different crowd at my friend’s party the other evening when the authorities showed up. Even so, from turn the conversation took, it sounded like a few were struggling with a visceral need to drop their red Solo cups and scale the fence. Either that or offer the cops something to drink. Or ask for a photo.

All I know is no one said “here, hold my drink,” so either I’m no longer the chump, or I’m hanging out with a better class of people. I think a little of both.


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Photos by: Arvind Grover, and my friend the hostess, whose name I promised to withhold… 

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  1. I love the idea of an adult still feeling that urge to run. I didn\’t have too many run-ins with the law back in the day. I was just telling a friend today that I really wasn\’t a bad girl but oh how I tried to be. But nope, I just couldn\’t live down to the crowd\’s expectations.

  2. Even when I know my registration, insurance, and license are in good standing (it\’s rare, but it happens because I want to be an adult when I grow up) I still get sweaty and panicky when a cop is behind me and I\’ve only been in trouble twice when I was 17. I don\’t think when getting pulled over or confronted by police my brain would ever say to itself, \”Hey, first, let\’s take a selfie together!\”

    1. Oh, same with me. I haven\’t been pulled over in a very long time, and when it happened, it was because my tags were expired. I was shaking so much I could barely talk to the officer.

  3. Never been busted myself. However, I will never forget when I was about 7 years old (this was in the early 70s) and one of the neighbor\’s kids had a huge party a few houses away. Several people called the cops and they showed up with pepper spray and paddy wagons (really!).

    The reason I particularly remember is because it was the night before my mom had to take the bar exam to become a lawyer. She was freaking out about the noise and lack of sleep. Gladly, she passed anyway.

    1. Oh, I feel for your mom. I\’ve never called the police on my neighbors, but I have gotten fussy about noise.

      But, pepper spray and a paddy wagon? They must have thought those kids were breaking out the wacky weed!