The Mink Caper

Header photo by William Warby

Today’s guest post comes from Plain Jane, who told this story in the Trail Baboon comments a few days ago.  With the holiday party season just past, it is a cautionary tale about knowing your limits and keeping tabs on your property.

It was shortly before Christmas, and I had just separated from wasband a few months before; I was in a blue funk. A man I had absolutely no interest in dating had invited me to the NCO Club at Fort Snelling for a little Christmas cheer, and I had accepted his invitation because I couldn’t bring myself to say no.

That same day was our company’s Christmas party, held at the now defunct Minnesota Club, a rather posh establishment next door to the Ordway. I had two gin and tonics at the party, enough to make me completely oblivious to time and place – and apparently everything else as well. I had reasoned that having a couple of stiff drinks would make my upcoming date more bearable. As it turned out, I forgot all about him, and didn’t show up for out date.

Sometime later that evening, I became aware that I was dancing at the Smuggler’s Inn. I had no recollection of how I had gotten there, but there I was with a bunch of my coworkers. When I announced that I should probably go home, my firm’s office manager said “Margaret here’s your coat,” and handed me a short, blond mink coat. I said “Martin, that’s not my coat,” to which he responded “well, I’ve been sitting here watching it for you all night.” The Smuggler’s Inn wouldn’t let you check a fur coat because they didn’t want to be responsible for it, so Martin had been watching it while I danced. I left Smuggler’s, without a coat, leaving the fancy mink on my chair.

One of my coworkers offered to drive me home, but the problem was that my house keys were in the pocket of my coat – a dark, long muskrat bought at a Goodwill store on Lake Street – so I had to spend the night at her house.

The following morning I wondered who would know what had transpired the night before. Mary, an older secretary in our tax department, seemed like a good bet, so I called her. Mary told that when the official office party was over, a bunch of us had decided to continue partying at Smuggler’s. I had donned the short, blond mink coat from the unattended coat rack. She had protested that that was not my coat, but I had assured her that it was, that I had two fur coats. I seemed perfectly normal, she said, so she believed me.

At this point I realized that I had left The Minnesota Club wearing a mink coat that didn’t belong to me. I immediately called the club to ask if my coat was there, to which they responded “are you the woman whose $5,000 mink coat was stolen last night?”. “And no,” they added, “it hadn’t been returned.”

Oh lord, can you imagine how I felt at this point? I had left a $5,000 mink coat – that had been reported stolen to the police – slung over the back of a chair at Smuggler’s Inn.

I was lucky enough that the coat was still there when they opened a little later that morning. I returned it to The Minnesota Club and retrieved my own $25.00 muskrat which was still hanging where I had left it.

I was very lucky that this story had a happy ending, but I can assure you I learned a lesson about my capacity for handling hard liquor.

What innocent error might have put you in jail?  

79 thoughts on “The Mink Caper”

  1. a very similar story comes to mind but removed tot the far away lands of the upper penninsula of michigan. my buddy justin and i headed up to meet my frend dennis and a couple of his friends at a ski resort in the up where one of dennis’s friends was working. we got rooms at the hotel and had dinner and began the weekend. the hotel was a resort kind of deal with big dining rooms with buffets and set up for large crowds which were simply ot there. we asked his the guy who owrked there where we could find the locl color and he sent us a mile or two doen the road to a little joint with 4 pool tables and a bunch of folks crammed into a couple roooms with fun being had by all. we qickly befriended the locals at one of the pool tables and were soon pitted against them in serious competition. justin and i were up with dennis and his partenr on deck to play the winner. the opponants were a couple of locals who had recently received their paychecks and were bound and determined to drink it before the night was through. we were doing the male bonding thing calling each other ugly and making fun of the bad shot just missed when i saw the littel guy on the other team lining up in a wavery sort of way to take the next shot . i put my face down by the holel he was lining up to shoot the ball at and made a distracting head shaking na na nah kind of challange and he came over the table at me. i was a bit surprised , i thought we were having fun but i hadnt had a good fight for a while so i grabbed him an pulled him the rest of the way over the table and was about to start doing some deeper charachter anaylsis when the bar keep interceded. these guys are just a couple of local drunks who are looking for trouble. dont fight em i will get into trouble if we have any more fights in here this week. here have a couple of drinks on the house and head on down to the spot two blocks over. its the perfect palce for you. so we took him up on his offer and headed over to a dark quiet spot with one pool table in the corner and a typical set up with a few tables and a long bar surrounded by flannel shirts and kromers ( local railroad hat popular in the area) and we laughed and deank and shot pool for another hour or so and headed home to the hotel so we would be ready for a big day of skiing in the morning.we drove back to the hotel and made our way to the room we shared with a living room/ kitchen area and bedroos off to the sides. before we crashed one of the gys held up the coat he had grabbed on the way out of the bar for the ride home and asked
    who’s coat is this?
    no one responded….
    i grabbed it form our table before we left the bar and thought it was yours,
    nope
    well check the pockets see who it belongs to
    well poor earl had left his checkbook and wallet in the jacket and the boys thought that was the funniest thing ever.
    what kind of fool would leave his jacket with his wallet in it sitting unwatched? oh lets call the bar and give earl some flack.
    so we did and boy was he mad.
    they called him the next day too at home whre his wife didnt find it too funny (he had his phone number on his checks) then we called th bar again that night and got him steamed up pretty good.
    on our way out of town sunday at 2 oclock i said i would take the jacket back into the bar and leave it for earl. i had the boys waiting outside with the car running and it was a good thing.
    someone spotted me going in carrying the jacket and said something and i set it down quickly and headed back out the door rather than explain about the fun we had at earls expense. i jumped in the car and away we went looking at the sunday afternoon excitment roll out onto the sidewalk with fists shalking and an angry mob of flannel shirts and kromers wishing us a fond farewel on our big weekend to the north country.
    i dont know if that qualitfies as an innocent error but the boys sure got a kick out of it

    http://tinyurl.com/o6ptl8l

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  2. Dale, that image is absolutely chilling. My claustrophobia and control-freakishness is probably what keeps me on the straight and narrow.

    I feel like I already told this story, but it’s all I’ve got for today’s question.

    Back in my gypsy days, I did a couple of seasons at American Players Theatre in Spring Green while living in Madison. The second season, I was car-less, so I did a long-term rental with the area dealership that the theatre used.

    I haven’t done summer theatre in lo these many years, so I don’t know about today, but back then, you ended up working some pretty long and late hours as you got ever closer to opening night, which is how I found myself driving across country, pretty much in my sleep, at 3am. I was just rolling into Middleton as the flashing lights behind me thoroughly woke me up and I pulled over.

    My purse was a mess, so I just upended it on the carseat next to me to try and find my license. It quickly became obvious to me that this was not just a “wake up lady” stop. It seemed the license plates on the car were for a pick-up truck, not the sedan I was driving. I had no explanation other than this was a car I was renting and was clueless as to the circumstances of its license plates.

    Meanwhile, I was racking my brains as to who I would call with my one phone call. It just happened that everyone whose phone number I kept in my mental rolodex (no cell phones in those days) was out-of-town.

    Eventually, they just let me go.

    I got the explanation only at the dealership the next day. It seems a very unhappy secretary (who was “no longer with us”) had, as her parting shot, switched around a bunch of the license plates of the vehicles on the lot, prior to me picking up my rental. Very effective bit of mayhem, too bad she missed her target by a mile.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. and now you have posted the confession on the internet!!!!

      I sure hope you get access in jail, we are gonna miss you otherwise. Check with littlejailbird. She seems to have this figured out 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning. When I was a young grade school kid I thought it would be fun to throw snow balls at cars. I probably knew that wasn’t a good thing to do. However, I don’t recall thinking that I was doing something terribly wrong.

    I had the bad luck to hit a car with a snowball that contained 2 prison guards on their way to work. We lived on a street leading to large prison. They stopped and told me that I was doing something that was very bad. I got off with a warning and a promise that I would be in big trouble if they caught me doing that again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was maybe 9 or 10 I went to the corner store with a friend. She was going to loan me a dime so I could get a candy bar. I had my candy bar picked out when she realized she had left her money at home. We left to go get the money and I was halfway down the block when I realized I still had the candy bar in my hand. I burst into tears, convinced that I was going to be arrested for shop lifting. My friend assured me I would not and got the money while I stood there on the street sobbing. We paid for the candy and all was right again (though the cashier, a neighbor who lived across the street from me), did suggest that I pay a little better attention next time.

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      1. Yep. Closest I’ve come, unless you count speeding tickets (I have had two). I’m probably still in some secret national database for my leftist political activity during the Reagan years (including a protest co-hosted by the Democratic Socialists of America when Reagan was in town – which also likely means there were Secret Service folks scoping the hoi polloi and our signage).

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      1. Yes, tim. Yes you are.

        Thar or we are all master criminals who know better than to post about it online (except wessew).

        Choose your own adventure/answer.

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  5. I think I’ve told the story before of the time my dad, who owned a u-haul franchise, had a stolen truck dropped off at his lot. Instead of reporting the recovery of the truck, he used the truck to move us(at no cost) from Winnipeg to Columbus, Indiana. That meant that we moved all our earthly possessions across the border in a stolen tuck. He didn’t bother to tell us about the truck’s provenance until after he got back to Luverne. I don’t think such a caper would work these days.

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    1. I have twice lost coats,mover 40 years ago, one at a speech meet in Edina HS when there as a judge, and at a wedding. I assume both were pj-type errors. I quit leaving my coats in public places.

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  6. How long is the statue of limitations??
    I’m will admit I ‘borrowed’ a few things in my younger years.
    In one case, as we carried an item to the truck (in the dark of night) we met a local security guard. We dropped the item and pointed to the sky and I pointed out the North Star and the Big Dipper.
    Guard walked by, we picked up the item, threw it in the truck and got the heck out of there.
    I don’t know why I am not in jail.
    I guess that wasn’t an ‘innocent error’…

    Nevermind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ben, I have a few not so innocent stories about “borrowing” that I could tell. I think I will not assume that the statue of limitations will protect me and will not give any details about what I did. Also, I will say that as an adult I have become very careful about giving in to the urge to participate in any five fingered discount programs.

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  7. Once ran through the no-attendant line at a toll booth in NY. We were in the wrong line by error and did not have an electronic tag on the rental car. 4 months later got a long official threat to do everything but take our children. But with tiny letters on the bottom of page 3 saying it was our first offense and we were forgiven.

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    1. As long as I’m confessing:

      I frequently enter places through the ‘Exit’ doors.
      I have driven the wrong way on ‘One Way’ streets if it was only a little way and the path was clear.
      I have loitered.
      I have not paid at the Honor Box in parking ramps.
      I have reused my plate at buffet lunches.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I bet you have also used the Express Lane at the supermarket with more items in your cart than specified as the maximum limit. You might as well get it off your chest now, Ben.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wear white shoes after Labor Day and was once caught using “the wrong knife” at a multi-course dinner (I used my fillet knife to butter my bread – oh the horror!).

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    2. We were visiting Charleston SC for my nieces wedding. In a rental car, parked on the side of a street downtown Charleston waiting for Kelly to pick up a pizza.
      I saw the police woman walking up the street writing parking tickets but figured I was good as I was in the idling vehicle. About the time I saw Kelly coming in the rear view mirror I also realize the woman is standing behind our car writing a ticket.
      I was moving before Kelly got completely in the car but I didn’t get a ticket.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My mom had a close call when she was in her 50s or so – was shopping at Younkers (Iowa’s version of Dayton’s) at Merle Hay Plaza in Des Moines, her favorite place to shop. She did the equivalent of Anna’s and Jacque’s candy bar, and a security guard detained her right outside the door. She tried and tried to explain that she’d just forgotten she was holding the item, but they didn’t believe her and proceeded to get all her information… you know, I don’t remember how this turned out! Just that it ruined shopping for her for a long time… I’ll see if she remembers. What I remember is: it hurt her feelings that they could think she would shop-lift.

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  9. Daughter and best friend narrowly avoided vandalism charges a couple of years ago when daughter was a senior and best friend was a freshman in college, home on break. Daughter had decided not to go to prom, and on prom night, she and best friend got some short lasting paint specifically to be used on windows. They went to the school parking lot and started writing positive messages on car windows, things like You’re beautiful” and “Jesus loves you”. They were apprehended by the principal, who threatened all sorts of punishments. Luckily, best friend’s mom is a high school teacher, and she intervened on daughter’s behalf on Monday morning, so all daughter got was tongue lashing from the principal.

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  10. A year after we were married, Sandy’s new boss at Webb publishing took us to see Sweet Charity. First we ate at the MN Club. I felt so under pressure, it passed in a blur–way out of my element at that time.

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  11. Warning: people who hate hunting will not like this story.

    The first time I hunted mule deer was in Montana. I shot a small buck mule deer although my license only allowed me to shoot a doe. Mule deer have large ears (hence the name), and this buck’s tiny horns were hidden by the ears. I had no previous experience with mule deer, so this fooled me.

    I was anguished and ashamed when I learned what I had done. I wanted to flee the state, leaving the evidence of my crime where it fell. But the damage was done and it would only compound my sin if I abandoned the deer to avoid a fine. I dressed it out, left it in the field and went to my motel to phone the local game warden. I told him I was a hunter from Minnesota who had just violated a major game law. His stunned silence suggested to me he didn’t get many such calls.

    We met the next morning so I could show him the deer and donate it for some charity. I was terrified because Montana newspapers were full of stories about some Alabama hunters who had poached many game animals and then were caught. The warden confiscated my deer but sold it back to me for $10. Shaking my hand, he said he hoped I would hunt in Montana again. I felt I had done the best thing possible under the circumstances, but I was still ashamed of my incompetence.

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      1. On the phone he asked about the size of the ears and antlers. He confirmed, when he saw the deer, that the large ears concealed the antlers. I felt like a foolish rookie . . . which I was, not having experience with mule deer before.

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  12. This is the very first time that the day’s question made me a bit uncomfortable. Not because l should’ve been in jail, but because, for the life of me, anything l’ve ever done which wasn’t “above the line” wasn’t innocent. Nothing big, but little things like forgetting to pay for some cat litter on the bottom of my cart. That was innocent, but not going all the way back to the store to redeem myself wasn’t. And then there’s speeding (never more than 5-7 miles over the limit). And then there’s always some questionable deductions on taxes like referring to my cats as “therapy aides” (they do sit on some client’s laps and purr, though). l’ve also had a drink, then driven home from Fletcher’s a few times on a Sunday afternoon, rationalizing that it’s “only two minutes from home”.

    I guess that the word “jail” kind of threw me because l’ve never done anything that egregious, but l’m guilty of a number of small
    transgressions over my lifetime.

    I’ve only been pulled over by a cop once in my life. On the way home from the little dive bar where l dance, l saw the red lights flashing right behind me. Since l never drink alcohol when l’m out at night, l couldn’t imagine why he wanted me to pull over. He came to the window and l exclaimed, “What did l do?? What did l do??”. He told me that l’d been going 10 miles over the speed limit. l said, “REALLY?? This is the first time l’ve EVER been stopped!” He took my license, but l couldn’t find my proof of insurance card and handed him a Dancing Grandma calling card instead. l even volunteered to be tested for alcohol. He went to his squad car to check me out. When he returned to the car, l told him that l’d done two other things he could’ve nailed me for: not using my seat belt or signaling a turn. By this time, the cop looked astonished at my odd behavior so he did nothing more than warn me not to speed again. What came flying out of my mouth then was, “Oh thank you so much! For my first time, this was a really great experience!”

    So much for my run in with the law.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. send them the littel box contents and ask if theyre sure its not deductable. maybe the new mn senate and congress would like to help you pass the bill. can you send some to them too? i think my watchdogs and elephants should be deductable too? a littel bigger envelopes.

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        2. Friend of ours got companion dog status for her mini doberman so she could bring the dog into the neighborhood coffee shop. Theoretically her companion, but that little dog made everyone happy.

          Liked by 1 person

  13. i was in brainerd with my friend staying at the holiday inn and my brother was in town playing at one of the local spots. we went to bar one where i fell in love with the cocktail waitress and made a date to pick her up when she got off work. we went to hear my brother play and it was a rip roaring joint with wild and crazy goings on. i was having a blast but when the waitress got off work i wanted to be there as agreed. problem was had gotten a little bit drunk over th course of the evening. i drove back there to dazzle her with my brilliance but she saw me and came over to say hi only to be less than impressed with my lack of ennunciation. she slipped out the back door when i wae snt looking and i ended up going back to pick up my friend at my brothers joint but along the way the gumball machines started blazing and the officer in the squad told me i had just about run him into the oncoming traffic while he was trying to pass me to check out another questionable charachter. he asked what i was dong and when he heard my story he laughed and said he liked haveing us city boys come up to the brainerd area and told me he wanted to see my car moved over to that parking lot right there and it better not move before morning. i thanked him profusely (with a slur) and went to move the car but had to go back and knock on his window and inform him i had locked my keys in the car with the car running. he roared laughing. he had to call another cop with the long wire thing to break into my car before we were through. we became fast friends and i moved my car, walked 2 or 3 miles in kind of a wobble to the holiday inn and crawled in bed 45 minutes after my friend returned to the room. he thought is was os funny he put all the quarters he had in my magic fingers machine and i shook as i slept it off. ill never forget his lok when i told him i locked the keys in it woth the car running. it was priceless. cops are people too.
    that reminds me of the lake harriet bicycle path story told here previously. glad my kids dont come home with these stories.
    cousin dan used to laugh about his brother pat who got caught doing all the same stuff we had gotten away with nunerous times. its kharma i think.

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    1. Karma, yes, but there is also the big luck factor affecting which cop you run into. A friend of mine was sitting in a car in front of bar in Superior. A cop tapped on the window and had a conversation with the folks. The car had no license plates. My friend John had no driver’s license. And the marijuana fumes in the car were impossible to miss. What did the cop do? He said, “There’s a nice bar right there. You folks should go inside and give them a little business.” Some cops might have acted differently!

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  14. My dad has a different “mink story.” As he tells it, he was ‘catting around’ with a friend of his at about 2:00am one night, just before Christmas, when he was growing up in Cloquet, MN.

    (At this point, my mother jumped in and asked how old he was at the time. Dad said that he was probably about 8 years old [which would put this tale in the early 1940’s]. My mother asks why his mother allowed him to be out so late. Dad replies that he’d snuck out of the house without his folks knowing. My mother rolls her eyes.)

    Dad says that he saw some large, dark animal scamper across the street a block in front of him. He and his friend decide to chase it. They dash after this thing, catching occasional glimpses of it. Dad said that he could see it was dark and furry and ran like an otter but he knew it couldn’t be an otter. He was thinking that what they were chasing was a large fisher. They chase this thing for blocks, through people’s front yards, back yards, streets, alleys…dad said, “We chased that damn thing all over town in the middle of the night.”

    At this point, it should be noted that my father was quite a hunter/trapper in his youth. He used to ‘run trap lines’ through the woods and check them every morning as he walked to school. He said that the most difficult bone to get out of a black-tailed weasel was the tiny bone at the tip of the tail, where the black tuft is connected. He expertly learned to remove this bone because if the black tuft came off as he took the bone out, he could only sell the weasel skin for 5 cents. But if he was able to get the bone out and the black tuft was still on the skin, he got 10 cents!

    So, dad and his friend chase this animal that they think is a fisher all over Cloquet in the middle of a dark, snowy, cold winter’s night. Dad is thinking of what he can get for a fisher pelt. The animal finally hides in a large stacked-wood pile. Dad and his friend begin taking the wood off the pile.

    About half way down, dad took off a log and saw a rodent-like face peering up at him. Dad said that he ‘dispatched’ him. (I asked how he’d done this and he said, “I bopped him on the head with the log I was holding.”) And when they pulled out this animal, they found it to be a very large mink! Dad said they took it down to the local bar (which still had patrons) and sold it on the spot for $35 (BIG money in those days).

    The next day, in the Pine Knot, there was a story about how the prize mink of a local mink farm had escaped and asked the town to be on the lookout…

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Afternoon all! Many years back a good friend asked if she could keep a couple of guitars at my house – something about them being sold from her store to somebody internationally and she wanted to make sure they didn’t get accidentally sold to someone else. If somebody came to me w/ that story today, I’d be suspicious, but back then, what did I know? Turns out that there was some tax fraud thing going on at the store and she didn’t want the guitars (I think there were four) on the books when the audit was done. I suppose if the auditors had found out, I would have been in deep doo doo, but they didn’t. And again, if this happened today, I’d be plenty angry w/ my friend, but back then it kinda rolled off my back.

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  16. Except for Tim and Ben, we ARE pretty clean in a squeaky kind of way.

    My one shame is having tossed snowballs into the blue outgoing mailbox at the foot of our hill. Of course I have no way to know if any addresses were obliterated or precious loveletters ruined or people thrown to the creditors by an undeliverable bill payment. I’m not proud.

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  17. That story, vs, reminds me of another. This one took place about a year after the mink caper. At the time in lived in a beautiful old mansion on the West Side which had been divided into apartments and a couple of single rooms. An odd assortment of people lived in the house, including a fellow named Ed.

    Ed was the worlds nicest man when he was sober, but when he’d had something to drink, would do really stupid stuff. One time he and a buddy of his stole the scaffolding from a nearby building site. This allowed him to go into the tuck-pointing business – at least until the scaffolding was claimed by it’s rightful owner. Another time Ed had gotten drunk and in his drunken stupor had smashed the window of a downtown tobacco store. He was too busy stuffing pipes from the store’s display into his pockets to notices that a squad car pulled up beside him. Every cop in St. Paul knew Ed and liked him, but of course, they couldn’t very well ignore what he had done, so off to jail he went. He’d write me these wonderful letters from jail where he took it upon himself to clean and keep things nice and tidy.

    One evening Ed and truck driver buddy of his came knocking on my door and wanted to know if I could use some frozen flank steaks. They had semi full of frozen flank steaks. They also had a story about how they needed to sell them before they thawed because the warehouse they were supposed to be delivered to somehow didn’t have room in their freezer. I don’t recall what they charged for the steaks, but everyone in the neighborhood was eating flank steaks for weeks. Even at the time the story seemed fishy, but the opportunity for such a good deal was irresistible. To this day I have no idea what the true story was, and I’ll never know as Ed died about fifteen years ago.

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  18. OK, I’ll come clean. Another exception to the “innocent” part of Dale’s question, and I’ve probably told this before here: I did someshoplifting when in college, and I still haven’t really figured out what the hell was the reason. The last day of finals week, I remember ducking out of a k-mart type store in Ames with a pair of Angel Tread slippers, and the next thing I knew I was sitting in a back room filling out forms with the security guard. Went before the judge, who was a kind and far-seeing man who said (as I was sobbing uncontrollably), “I don’t know what happens to you kids during final week, this is the third one of these today.” He admonished this to sin no more, and dismissed the charges so it wouldn’t be on our permanent records. The worst part was telling my folks before they saw it in the paper…

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    1. I should probably quit posting today lest you all think my entire life has been spent hanging out with criminals.

      Back in college, my friend, Tia, befriended one of her students (from when she was student teaching), a young woman who identified herself as lesbian. Revel was a sweetheart and a rebel, troubled in many ways; she hung out at our house a lot. I had no idea that she had fixated on me and thought she was in love with me.

      Revel was a notorious shoplifter, it’s a miracle she never got caught. She’d routinely go to the campus bookstore – wearing an over-sized trench-coat – and come out with books, candles and other stuff for which she had not paid. I never witnessed this, but was well aware of her reputation.

      One Saturday afternoon I made the mistake of shopping for a pair of white shorts at the clothing store where Revel worked. I tried on several outfits and in the end decided they were more expensive than what I wanted to pay. That evening, Revel stopped by to drop off, as a gift, a pair of shorts she thought I’d like. Years later I discovered that she had ripped them off from her employer, and never felt guilty about it.

      Today, Revel is dying from breast cancer. One of the more unconventional people I have ever known. She has been quite open about her feelings for me, and I have been quite clear that I’m not interested in a lesbian relationship with her. But, she’s a good person who chooses her own set of values and couldn’t care less what others think. She feels the deck has been stacked against her, and I’m not sure she isn’t right.

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  19. I had a memory lapse similar to PJ’s once when I was a teenager. Some friends and I were imbibing quite a bit one Friday night. I think it was sloe gin, IIRC. Awful stuff. When we had finished the bottle I set out to walk home, and I remember leaving, but I don’t remember anything else till I woke up at home some time later. I didn’t have a car or a driver’s license at the time…a good thing. When I came around I was in my bedroom, and peeked out the door to see my mother and her best frien sitting around the kitchen table shooting the breeze. I must’ve walked in under my own power, but I don’t remember. No one ever said anything to me about it.

    That was the not-so-innocent story.

    The story where my friends and I were innocent was a few years later. I remember it well, because it was on my 18th birthday, and the legal drinking age was 18 at the time. I had a good friend whose birthday was, coincidentally, the same day as mine, and her boyfriend – I’ll call him Lynn, not his real name – took us out to a bar. We were a little older and wiser and didn’t drink as much that night. On the way home, as we were heading south out of Stillwater on the highway, we saw the headlights of a car in the ditch on the right side of the road. There wasn’t time to figure out what was going on. We were about to pass when the car suddenly lurched out of the ditch back onto the road and hit Lynn’s car on the passenger side. We stopped, they stopped, and then the other car abruptly took off at top speed. Lynn said “Hold on,” and floored it, not wanting them to get away, knowing that the damage to his car was significant.

    On the bridge over the St. Croix going into Wisconsin, state troopers pulled both cars over. The cop that pulled us over made us get out of the car and stand with our hands on the hood. Luckily, Lynn was able to convince him that he was the victim and the other driver was in the wrong, pointing to the crunched-in rear door on the passenger side. While the other trooper arrested the guys in the other car, he let us get back into our car while he took information. He asked for our names and addresses and dates of birth. First Lynn – as I mentioned, this was not his real name. He had a first name that would usually be considered a girl’s name. Then my friend, who gave her birth date – “April 3rd, 1958” – exactly 18 years previous. Then it was my turn, and I had to give the same birth date, of course. The cop kind of gave me the stinkeye, as if he thought we might be making up a story, but it was all the truth.

    Oddly, I don’t remember Lynn being tested for sobriety. I don’t think he had been drinking much at the bar, and the legal limit was higher in those days, so he probably would’ve been fine. Still, I thought it was fortunate that the cop seemed to credit us with being fine upstanding citizens in spite of evidence to the contrary.

    That’s the only high-speed chase I’ve ever been involved in. Honest.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The one red thread that seems to hold true through all of these stories is that you/we were given the benefit of the doubt. Might that have been different had we been people of color? I think the answer is obvious.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was thinking exactly the same thing. How our eyes have been opened by recent events and wise things that people have written.

        A couple of weeks ago, our minister mentioned in a sermon that he overheard people talking in a coffeeshop, questioning events in the news and the idea that people of color are treated differently. He realized that, a couple of years earlier, before the privilege/whiteness training he’s had, he could easily have been the one questioning it. We’ve had some excellent training and sermons on the subject and we are all more aware than ever before.
        If only we could train the world.

        Liked by 3 people

  20. In all seriousness, thank you, Dale, for highlighting this particular post of mine. As you know, it’s not one I’m proud of, but it is real. Looking back, I realize how lucky I am to have not been caught doing some of the stuff that would have had me deported.

    In reading other baboon’s posts, I also realize that some, if not most, of us, have made transgressions that we regret. That’s what I try to remember when I judge harshly what some young people do today.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Linda, Lisa and PJ make great points about how many of us have made mistakes and been given the benefit of the doubt. What I also note is that most of us deeply regretted what we had done, and in so doing we might have trained our conscience (that sometimes irritating Jimminy Cricket voice in our head) to keep us out of trouble in the future. Maybe conscience is something like a muscle that we have to train and use before it can do its job. And maybe, at some level, that is why we goof when we are young. We might need to test our personal limits and learn what conduct makes us remorseful later.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. OMG, this is definitely a bunch of do-gooders here. Nice to know ya! I’ll try to stop in more often. I hope using the internet for personal purposes at work (during break, of course) isn’t a problem. I’m still trying to figure out where today’s post is.

    Like

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