What I think is pretty funny and extremely ironic is that I, not the Young Alcoholic, got arrested for underage drinking while in college. Oh, America. What also is thought-provoking is that I remember everything. My memory was not in any way impaired (well, I’ll expand and let you decide, dear reader).
From Fall of 2011 until I transferred in May of 2014, I attended a small, liberal arts college in southern Ohio. Ohio is a virtual playground for an odd combination of intellectuals and complete rednecks. The school I attended (let’s call it Adderall College) and the town (let’s call it Townsville) it was in was an excellent example of what happens when you take a bunch of overly privileged kids, fresh out of the house, and drop them in a small town environment that had been affected by the closing of a major industrial plant. The money had been siphoned off and moved elsewhere leaving an underemployed, drug-addled population in its wake. On one hand, you have the aptly, if not slight offensively-named “townies” and the students. The school was only a few thousand students deep, tucked away on a cute, tree-lined street near the downtown.
Like any tiny school, the minority population was even tinier. Miniscule. So, of course there was tension. The minority students always felt like they had to watch their backs walking down the main road connecting the academic buildings to the dorms. Even though that stretch of road wasn’t even a quarter mile, the sound of a grunting truck could instill fear in one’s heart–especially at night. I heard horror stories of passing vehicles throwing piss, or screaming racial epithets. The usual. But like any minority student knows, it’s the police and the campus security that you really need to look out for. You know, the people that are supposed to “protect and serve”. Those guys. And, since there was an extreme overlap in Townsville’s Police force and Adderall College’s campus security team, a simple mistake could have major legal consequences.
At the time, I had a lovely roommate who we will call “Becky”. Becky was a bubbly, white, sorority girl from a happy hamlet in southeastern Michigan. We became fast friends at orientation and even though I didn’t join her sorority, we remained very close and lived together sophomore year. Our first semester was uneventful; a swirl of parties, hangouts, snacking, studying, and bong rips. The second semester found us in a new dorm, on the opposite side of the street, quietly tucked near an open quad and closer to the academic buildings. We had a favorite spot, a bench by some trees and a parking lot that sat wedged between our dorm and a friend’s. It was perfect; we nicknamed it “The Bench”. It became our little hangout/rendezvous place where we could smoke cigarettes or discreet bowls, chat, giggle, and have a good vantage point if a Security car was coming. Or so we thought.
One Saturday evening, perhaps around 9pm, we decided to go to The Bench with a male friend of ours, “Rob”. Rob was 21 at that point, still in our grade but slightly older. Becky and I had had one beer each at that point in the evening, most likely the beginning of a typical Saturday night of light socializing with friends. I don’t remember if there was any specific party or event we were preparing for, most likely just a calm night. The three of us decided to smoke a bowl or two of Rob’s weed at The Bench, a practice that was pretty regular between Rob, Becky, and I. Rob usually had pretty dank weed so we were sure to hit him up, plus he lived on the first floor of our dorm so he was usually a door-knock away. Rob fancied himself a wine-connoseur so he brought along a bottle of red wine out to The Bench. Now, side note: at the time, I was prescribed Xanax for anxiety. So, I had taken one dose earlier that evening before eating and drinking. This will come into play later.
As we were smoking and minding our own business, we heard giggling from the uppermost floor of our dorm. We assumed it was some girls pre-gaming a party and ignored them. Then we heard, “HEY STONERS! YOU SMOKING POT?” High people generally don’t like to be called out on their smoking habits since it’s still a stigma to smoke even though a large portion of people across races, generations, and economic statuses do it. So again, we ignored them. Maybe yelled a “Fuck you, drunk hos”. You know, the standard debate. Well, I do not know for sure, but not too much longer after that as I was about to hit the pipe, I heard “drop it!” I looked up, and an Amazonian female Security guard was striding right toward us, with a fat male one trailing behind. DAMMIT. We got busted. The flashlight shone all of our contraband including Becky’s pipes, a 2-gram sack, Rob’s grinder, Becky’s grinder, and a little tool she used to pack the bud down. And, Rob’s wine. This is where everything gets interesting. So, according to the guidelines of the school, apparently when paraphernalia is found on school grounds, they HAVE to alert the local police. Just no chill. Because none of the materials were mine and Rob and Becky were honest, I could have left. I should have left. But I stayed. Maybe because I was stoned. Maybe because I was freaked out a bit. Maybe because I was curious. But I asked the fat Security officer if it was okay if I stayed just to make sure Becky was alright. She was extremely scared and I felt too guilty to leave her.
About five minutes later, JUDGE DREDD showed up. A fresh buzz-cut and an attitude for days, Judge Dredd thought himself the Judge, Jury, and Executioner of this night. With the voice of a military drill sergeant, he scooped up all of the contraband and demanded all of us come over to his squad car. Intimidated, I followed along. I was completely unaware of “detainee” laws and such, and because I wasn’t a part of the “roundup”, I realize now I did have a right to leave. Oh, well. So, Judge Dredd, having an attitude because he actually had to do his job, decided to arrest Becky and I for underage drinking after shoving a breathalyzer in our mouths, seeing that wine was present. We had maybe a sip each, but remember, we had one beer each earlier in the night so it registered. I still remember what I blew: .028. The equivalent of less than one beer. I believe Becky blew around a .03. An EXTREMELY low amount of alcohol. But, it registered and out came the handcuffs. Again, maybe it was the fact I was stoned in conjunction with my anti-anxiety meds, but I really thought that Judge Dredd was joking. That this was all some very odd attempt at scaring us and that he would let us go after giving us a stern warning. NOPE. He must’ve had a bee in his bonnet that day because he tossed us in that squad car and took us down to the city lockup (which was only about 2 miles away). Rob, because he was 21, got a ticket for his drug paraphernalia and a court date, but was let go.
I can’t really describe what it felt like to be arrested. Scary doesn’t exactly cut it. It changes your perspective on life because you begin to think you are a terrible person. You begin to revisit everything you’ve ever done wrong and compare it to that moment. I had my hands cuffed behind my back, in utter confusion, and I looked over at Becky. Terror and tears shrouded her face. I immediately began to understand why I stayed; she couldn’t have handled this alone. And I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if I had left and found out she was arrested. So, off to the jailhouse we went.
Processing is an interesting “process”. There was an almost office-like setting, where your mugshot, fingerprints, and the like are taken. Inside the brightly-lit room, were a band of officers that literally looked like the cast of Super Troopers. I kid you not. It was the weed taking over my brain because I found that amusing. My intake officer was a jolly obese guy who saw me shaking like a goddamn leaf and told me to take a deep breath and calm myself, that I was just going to holding and as soon as they were done, we could call a ride to pick us up and the most that would result would be a fine. That brief moment of human kindness in the face of Judge Dredd’s death-stare, bitchy attitude made all the difference. I gave them my information, had to take off my jewelry and hair pins, and poor Becky had to give up her sweat jacket and had to wait with a spaghetti-strap tank top. There’s a procedure that you have to do that involves taking your shoes and turning them a certain way to be photographed. The officers joked and asked if we were “actually drunk” because we did it with ease. That was a real moment, because here we are, DEAD-ASS sober at that point being arrested and put into holding for having the equivalent of a swish of Scope in our systems.
After about a half hour, a tired-looking, bleached blonde female officer handed us a couple of blankets and plastic mats and placed us in a small cell. I will say, those blankets were thick wool and actually quite comfortable. Inside the cell, a woman was snoozing like she was at the goddamn Ritz-Carlton so we elected to put our mats on the floor and sit, wrapped up. Poor Becky had a near-breakdown, sobbing quietly over our circumstances and the fact her parents were going to definitely FLIP SHIT once she told them. I was worried about telling my mom of course, but I was more concerned about the small fact that I almost got caught with unprescribed Adderall (yo, Adderall College, man…). Luckily, I had the two pills in the same bottle as my prescribed Xanax so they believed that I just consolidated medications into one bottle. HELL YES. I realized later that our little minor misdemeanors could’ve been full-on FELONIES had that come out. Thank god for Xanax and quick thinking.
We were only in the cell for about 10 minutes. Possibly less, since the Townsville police station was 2 miles away from campus downtown. Becky had called Rob, who alerted my boyfriend at the time, “Fred” to gather the troops and spring us. He found a friend with a car and Rob and Fred came down to get us. I’ll never, ever forget the look on Fred’s face seeing me get out of the little holding cell, get the cuffs removed, and my belongings returned by Officer Blondie. He was peering through a little window that separated the hallway and the main processing area and gave me a cute wave with a look like “Oh shit, I have no idea what to say to her right now but I definitely shouldn’t laugh, holy shit this is awkward!”. Because what DO you say to your girlfriend and her shell-shocked roommate at that point? “Hey…? Want to drink…?” Well, anyways, I think I fucking nearly overdosed on Xanax that night just trying to forget and probably smoked a ton more weed in order to laugh it off. Becky probably went through an entire pack of cigarettes and ended up sleeping with a guy who was totally into her out of pure stress-relief. I don’t blame her at all; I most likely nearly raped Fred because what else do you do to feel better? Bang it out.
The porky intake officer was right; we did get hit with a series of hefty fines. We got a good, but expensive lawyer and paid court cases and fees amounting to around $2,000 (including the lawyer’s retainer). Yes, you read that right, two grand for a beer. Townsville had quite the little money-making scheme going on. Pick up rich kids from the school, charge them for retarded shit, and hit em where it hurts—the wallet. It’s been two full years since that incident but I remember it not-so-fondly. I haven’t gotten into “trouble” since and I don’t plan on it. Now, it’s reduced to a silly story; a drinking quip that gets me attention. Plus, I can say I spent a “dime” in jail—TEN WHOLE MINUTES. It makes me a bit hard, does it not? My record isn’t squeaky clean, but has but a small dent in it from a momentary lapse in judgement. If I had the ability to go back, would I change it? No. I believe strongly in the Butterfly Effect and who knows what would’ve happened in return. Jokes aside, Becky and I did break the law and we paid for it. And, although it was a very minor offense, it was an offense. It led me down a long, hard road of self-destruction but I have reached the more mature side of it all.
Unfortunately, Becky and I’s relationship dissolved. She lives in Michigan but she works a lot and doesn’t have time to socialize. I try to reach out to her but I’ve accepted that she may want to put Adderall College days behind her. And, I have to accept that. I’ve tried to do the same but I try to maintain the relationships but I see how it could bring up painful memories as well as fun ones, too. If she ever reads this, I hope that she is well and that two years ago, about one month to the day exactly, her and I were sitting, shaking in terror like crackheads in a cell in Townsville and I made an Orange is the New Black joke which wasn’t funny, but hey, dammit I tried to lighten the mood. That’s what you gotta do sometimes. But quietly so that the sleeping drunk redneck lady doesn’t wake up and fuck us up.