Archive for April, 2011

Sir, please step out of your vehicle…

April 11, 2011

            Any original six match up for me is more appealing than say seeing Phoenix against Tampa Bay.  Although the players from both teams are excellent and worthy of playing at the highest rung, if you live in Tampa you should be swimming or jet-skiing and thanking god or Allah that you don’t live in Edmonton.  Purely because of the weather,   Edmonton is a fine place to live if you don’t mind being cold.

            I bought a standing room ticket to see the Chicago Blackhawks play the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis.  I parked near the Renaissance Center that sits on the river that separates Canada from the United States.  I walked over with hoards of Wings fans that were wearing all the current stars and then a few throw backs like Probert and Lapointe: two guys who played on both the Red Wings and Blackhawks who are still loved in Detroit unlike Marian Hossa who comes off as a cup chasing carpetbagger.

  I took my place against the wall in the 200 section near center ice and watched the Red Wings essentially give the game away in the first period.  Twenty seven seconds into the game, while people were buying beer and urinating before the game really got going, Brent Seabrooks scored.  Then somebody by the name of Ben Smith, who is probably no relation to any Smith you know, scored for Chicago next Brian Campbell and then finally, to really put a stake through the hearts of Red Wing fans, Marian Hossa scored a cherry picking goal.  My thought was, “What the fuck is going on?”

There was a time when people feared playing in Detroit and lately everyone shows up to get a win.  I saw the Red Wings play in early March in Los Angeles at the Staples Center and they destroyed the Kings.  A few days later, the Kings came to Detroit to get a pay-me-back. 

There is very little more annoying that seeing some fat bastard raising his beer in a Kane or Toews jersey except seeing Boston Red Sox fans in places like Seattle or Chicago Cubs fans anywhere at all.  I had to listen to some fuck tell me how great Chicago was but that he was living near Ann Arbor.  If I wanted to hear mindless jabber while watching the game, I could have brought a wife.  Not necessarily mine but anyone’s who wouldn’t care to watch the game but really needed to talk and be heard.  Finally the Chicagoan had to piss and disappeared into a line that was as long as what you might come to expect at a popular amusement park attraction.  He might still be waiting.

The game ended, I walked over to Pegasus Restaurant in Greektown.  I ate and had a couple of glasses of wine.  I then went up to the casino and had a few vodka and cranberries and walked out of the building ahead for a change.  Usually the Greeks clean me out.  Fatigue got to me before they emptied my pockets. 

I drove north on interstate 75 and then east on 696.  I exited on Van Dyke in the Detroit suburb of Warren and headed north in the left lane.  Most of the streets in and around Detroit are like expressways.  They are designed to get you moving and keep moving.  The speed limit was 45 mph and I was probably going close to 55 mph when someone coming out of a fast food restaurant on the opposite side of the street, cut in front of me going 5mph.  I wanted to turn my car into a monster truck and flatten the stupid, thoughtless, selfish driver who cut me off.  This driver forced me to slam on my breaks just so he could hurry home with his fast food at 1am in the morning. 

I didn’t have the ability to turn my car into a monster truck or a steam roller and so I decided to pass the guy on the left and then jam on my breaks, forcing him to stop abruptly the way he made me kill the life of my breaks just so that I would not run into him.  Just as I passed the selfish driver and cut back into the lane while breaking, I could see flashing lights in all of my mirrors. 

The car I was driving had not been entirely killed by my son and daughter but did appear to have lived through a demolition derby or two.  If I were a racial profiling cop stopping a beat up Pontiac with no hub caps and dents all over the car, I would guess the driver was released from prison, about to go to prison, carrying open liquor or drugs, a thief, a drug addict, a young black man or a young white man who resembled Kid Rock.  He came up to get my license and insurance card and flashed a light in my face.  What he saw was a middle aged white guy in a Detroit Red Wings knit hat and a Red Wings t shirt.  I wanted to tell him that the beat up Pontiac was my beater car that I drove to downtown Detroit so that nobody would suspect that I have a dime to my name or anything of value within the car that would warrant breaking the windows.  It is a perfect automobile to park and walk away from within the city of Detroit without worrying.  I wasn’t given the chance to explain that my two teenage children learned how to drive in the car and although it looks like hell, it keeps me from having to use my Dodge Magnum in the winter.  None of that mattered to him.  I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that he was assuming I was an angry old drunk in a beat up car.  The conversation went as follows.

Officer- What just happened over there?

Me- You had to have seen the guy pull out from across the street and cut me off.

Officer- I saw that and that was stupid.  What you did was illegal and a bit stupid too.

Me- You’re right.  I let my anger get away from me.

Officer- You let your anger get away from you because your angry?  Maybe cause you were drinking?  Where were you tonight?  How many drinks did you have?

Since leaving the game, I had four drinks in two hours.  Most likely 15% alcohol in the Merlot with dinner and 40% alcohol in the Vodka/cranberry and enough to be considered impaired.  My breath was probably flammable.  I considered lying to the officer about drinking but then realized he probably smelled something and so I claimed to have one drink at dinner after the game.  The officer then invited me to step behind my vehicle with lights flashing and a Mag-light in my face.  He asked me to bend one leg and raise the other and count “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” until he told me to stop.

            My thought was that even without a drink, I wasn’t sure if I had the balance and strength to not tip over or sway.  I took a deep breath and gave myself a pep talk before commencing the test to determine if I was going to drive away or be taken in cuffs to jail.

            “I fucking told you years ago about getting out of your car and fighting people in traffic, giving people the finger and cutting them off.  You’re driving a shit box car that looks like something you stole from a junk yard and you cut into the left lane to show an asshole that you can be a bigger asshole if forced.  Great fucking decision.  Now the four to five days a week of ice hockey, squats once a week in the gym, bike riding, elliptical and treadmill running you do whilst watching NHL hockey games in your basement, all these things make really strong thighs.  You have strong thighs.  Bend your fucking leg and support your total weight without swaying or falling or you will fucking be in jail tonight with someone that probably killed, raped, stole or had drugs in their possession.  It will cost you thousands to clear your name, you’ll lose your license, you’ll make the local Warren papers, and you help pay some lawyers college tuition for their child and you’ll need to have some device installed in your car that you need to blow into before it will allow you to drive.  Your family will think you’re a bust out at Easter and your boss will wonder what kind of a loser gets a DUI after going to a hockey game, a restaurant and casino.  I have total faith in you and know you can do this.  Don’t think about the fact that you can feel your heart through your chest and that it is up to 120 beats a minute.  You are buzzed but not speaking Portuguese yet.  Fucking concentrate and knock this bitch out of the box… Okay, I’ll be in the car if you need me.  I can’t bear to watch this.”

            “Ten Mississippi, eleven Mississippi, twelve Mississippi…”

            I wondered how many Mississippi I would need to count to until I could relax and put my leg down.  The officer was staring me dead in the eye as I counted, curled my left toes under and did all I could to be a Pink Flamingo with arms out like an airplane and my right leg up like the Karate Kid.  I could feel the sweat trickling down my spine and my left leg shaking out of fear and fatigue.  I was up to thirty Mississippi.

            “Alright, you can put your leg down.  Put your feet together and follow my finger.”

            The officer moved his finger from left to right and right to left and then decided to ask me some questions.  It was no longer officer to potentially DUI candidate.  It was now man to man.

            “Is something going on in your life that would make you do that?”

            “No, I was just so surprised that someone’s judgment was so poor that they thought going from standing still to cutting in front of a car traveling at nearly fifty miles an hour, was a sane decision.  It was a poor decision on my part but I’d like to have had a few minutes with that guy alone.  If I were in line for the bathroom at Joe Louis and someone cut in front of me like that, I would have faced washed him in the toilet but it happened in automobiles.  That and the Wings lost to Chicago again and I had some random asshole from Chicago talking to me the whole game about his triplets, some dude who makes French bread in Chicago, visiting Denmark and so much more.  The only time he stopped talking was to cheer for Blackhawk goals.  It was a rough night.  I only made it worse.”

            The cop then told me to get back into my car.  I was prepared for a ticket for illegal lane usage since I passed the drunk test.  A minute later, he returned with my license and my insurance card.  No ticket, no DUI.  He had one last piece of advice for me before cutting me loose.

            “Just keep in mind that we have eleven cups and they have three.  We will be in the playoffs for the twentieth time consecutively and they will need an act of god to not get bumped at this point…  Have a good night.  Go Wings.”

            I yelled back to him a thank you and received a welcome.  As I drove the speed limit towards my bed, I was so appreciative that I was going to bed instead of jail.  I was thankful that he asked me to balance on one leg instead of touching my nose or walking a line or counting backwards in Dutch or whatever else they ask drunken people to do before taking them to a holding pen.  I needed two sleeping pills before I could sleep as I was wound up and wired.  I turned on highlights from around the NHL and MLB and tried to relax.  A commercial came on of some suave looking attorney in a suit who offered to get me out of a DUI for a very affordable price, I turned off the television and drifted off replaying the whole event.  I felt like the luckiest guy in Warren at that moment.  And I was.

            The NHL season has concluded today.  The Chicago Blackhawks had to sit around television sets and root for the Minnesota Wild instead of living it up at a bar.  The Wild were triumphant and the Stars were stymied in their former home town.  Dallas gets to go golfing and Chicago gets to prove to Vancouver and fans everywhere that they are still the Stanley Cup champions.  It should be an exciting eight weeks of excellent hockey.