Sunday, February 20, 2005

"Is This Normal?"

After stopping us on Courtois, near the corner of Polk, Saturday night, the cop said: "Is this normal?" He was questioning why my girlfriend and I would be cruising east of South Broadway on a dead-end street at night down by the river. The question prompted both us to laugh, which in retrospect was the wrong response, of course.

I have could also asked him the same question, but I astutely cessed our situation and decided wisely to refrain. If I wanted to spend the night in jail, I could have parried his query by saying: "What are you doing down here officer, having a scoring free doughnuts, ripping off a boxcar full of TVs or just napping?"

He had been lurking on the railroad right-of-way with his headlights dimmed when he spotted us making a u-turn near the entrance to the grain elevators. With the squad car's red and blue emergency lights revolving, he asked for identification and continued his interrogation. What were doing down there?

Realizing that our laughter had upset his sensitive side, I told him we were just driving around after having dinner, making sure to address him as "officer" in a respectful and deferential manner "It's an interesting neighborhood," my girlfriend added.

"Why? There's nothing but hoosiers down here!"

We could have said that we were enjoying the ambiance of the Mississppi flood plain, or marveling at the early 19th-Century architecture of the district. Or I could have said it reminded me of home. But no answer we gave save one could have explained our deviant behavior.

Alison said: "We're both writers,"