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Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006
First, let me say a heartfelt thanks to all who left a note in the past couple of days. Having met almost no one who reads this stuff o’ mine, it is always a lift to realize there’s still a level of compassion in the world, and some who are able to articulate same. I am indebted to a lot of you for caring.

This being early Wednesday morning, I would have nearly bet that by now my son would have had his drivers license restored and the predictable song on his lips would have been, “So when do I get a car? Huh? When, huh? Can I take Mom‘s car over to the girlfriends, like?”

‘Twas not to be. In some ways I’m happy to be spared all that pestering, all the melodrama one links to 18 year olds without wheels, and the line of their thinking that such a state can be easily remedied by: 1) An adult who has no problem forking over large sums of cash for motorized boom boxes prone to pesky run-ins with stationary objects, or: 2) Wishing for bliss in the form of a current state lottery ticket. I can sum up the results of both of these rationalizations with the following: “Ain’t gonna happen, sport.”

Here’s why there’s been no assault on the old man, or the wish fairy either for that matter.

Sometime two weeks ago, in the living room of the rental house:

“Ally isn’t his court case coming up in two weeks?”

“Yep. Monday the 9th, why?”

“Well, it might be good to have his documentation in order by then, right? Bet ol’ Judge is gonna ask for it first thing. That proof of community service form, and that completion of the counseling thing. You know the legal system can‘t be legal without some paperwork to gnaw on.”

“Uh. Yeah, we probably ought to get that. I’ll remind him.”

Fast forward to the weekend before the Monday trial:

“So does he have those forms ready for Monday?”

“We’re gonna pick up the community service thing on the way to court. And the counselor said she’d take care of the counseling stuff. We got it all taken care of.”

Now those of you playing along at home already know my stance on the validity of anything regarding a state government sponsored human resources employee, and what they might have to say (Specific exclusions granted for Six and Roadie, but I don’t regard them as HR employees in any event. They actually do stuff.).

“The counselor is gonna take care of it”, from me, with as much vocal deadpanning as can be possible without sounding like outright sarcasm.

“Yes, she is!” said Ally, in that tone that sez ‘Don’t push this any farther, bub.’

Thusly reassured, Ally and Ben made the journey. Told to show up in court at 8 am, they had a pleasant 4 hour wait while the cases involving lawyers and law enforcement were dispensed with first. We live in a fairly populated area here, folks. And this was just one of eight actual courtrooms in the courthouse, all going great guns.

I got the blow by blow from Ally. “Well, the Judge was that same lady we had last time, and the people that went in before us apparently kinda pissed her off, and it was lunchtime you know, and she opened the file and kinda looked at Ben and said “I DON’T SEE ANY REPORT FROM THE COUNSELOR HERE!”

At which point in her telling of this sad tale of woe, I began to rock back and forth just a bit, and passed an open palm over my eyes.

“Then she said, ‘I find you guilty of possession, thirty days suspended, drivers license suspended an additional 6 months’, and she rapped the gavel and that was that.”

“That was that?”

“Yeah, took all of 2 minutes.”

“So he has no license, no way to get to work again save the largesse of family and friends, no way to commute once he gets out of school in June. We get to play out this crap for another 6 months because some idiot can’t put an envelope in the mail? And that’s that?”

“Well, I did make a stop at the counselors office on the way back. She swore she sent the stuff to the Judge. Said she’d get right on it, send it again, e-mail the clerk and all that.”

“Ally she never sent it in the first place. Now she gets to play ass cover, when it‘s pretty plain she can‘t find her ass with both hands anyway. Isn‘t this the same stooge who keeps encouraging you to keep him in the counseling sessions, even though he finished it up two months ago, and keeps hinting that if he doesn‘t it might look bad for him with the Judge? The same one who gets her $25 bucks a pop regardless?”

“You don’t know that. How can you know that?” (It should be noted that Ally tends to look for the good in all people, all the time)

“What difference? If by some miracle she actually does send in the report proving the obvious (I mean, why would Ally and Ben have shown up in court at all if he hadn’t been through all the torture? I would have thought a sitting Judge might have asked that question) then what happens? You get another 6 month delay in having a hearing anyway?”

Ally shook her head, after a pause. “I don’t know. Maybe she’ll do something, I don’t know. At least he doesn’t have to go to the counseling anymore, or the community service.”

And at this point Ben appeared. “You know, I was just thinking. My license is due to be renewed, you know, so when I start driving again, you know, like next week, we better get that taken care of, right?”

I think my eyeballs must have shot out great beams of light. “Gee, that’s good planning. Only one problem. Your license is in an envelope somewhere at the city courthouse. Best bet is it will be there for six months. Just how’re you gonna liberate it so you can renew it next week?”

“But . . .”

“Did you listen to the Judge?”

“Yeah but . . .”

“Planning on some motoring escapades to the theme park next weekend, are ye?”

“No, I . . .”

“Here’s some rain on your parade, my man. The system’s got you, and they don’t wanna let go. Sorry, don‘t mean to keep you in suspense about it. They TOTALLY get off on stuff like this. And from the looks of it, you do too.”

Ben had to stop, because he was talking to an asshole who didn’t have a clue.

Yeah, I’m an asshole. But I’m an honest asshole.

I was watching the Soprano’s the other night. That teenaged son, Tony’s kid? So masterfully played by whoeverthehell it is? He was talking with Tony and the wife, giving them a ration of teenaged logic in that know-it-all voice with whine on the side and I just had to think, ‘Geez, take away some of the abject hatred this kid has for the parents and he could be Ben’s twin. In attitude, if not appearance.’ The kid really is a good actor, even if at that age it isn’t much of an act at all.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that I was just like him, at that age. Damned if I didn’t know it all. And damned if my Dad didn’t give me hell about it, and damned if I didn’t resent it. Eventually I learned from it. Like most 18 year old boys, the hard way.

Anybody with kids has heard the argument of “Girls are so much easier than boys”, or “Boys are so much easier than girls.” Depending on the luck of genetics, you get both, and get to pick for yourself. In our case, Ally thinks boys are easier just as vehemently as I think girls are easier. Why that is, I cannot fathom.

Short story? The kid didn’t get jail time. He didn’t get transportation, either. Maybe it’s peculiar to the area we live in, which is a hugely spread out affair with nearly zero public transportation, but not having a vehicle or the means to operate one is equivalent to a sort of incarceration all its own.

And on a semi-related note:

Every Christmas I get a card and letter from my siblings, and yes, it’s the sort of ‘Annual Report on the State of Grace Under Which We Have Blessed the Planet’ affair. Daughters getting Masters degrees, sons in missionary work and birthing fourth child, theatrical debuts by grandchildren, and so on and so on. It’s gotten to the point where the letters begin with a self-depreciating little chuckling intro, like “Gee, sorry to send another list of accomplishments, but . . .” and then they proceed to do just that.

And every January, like clock work, one or the other of the siblings will call and say, “Well, we didn’t hear from you (again) at Christmas, so we thought we’d better call . . .”, with a sniff, and it’s a teleprompt for me to gush about how my kids are all in college, working at night being a clerk on a tall stool for a prominent local businessman, how Ally has completed her latest knitting of ten afghans for the homeless, how my studies for the second doctorate degree are going. You know, the normal expectations, the normal standard of measurement for my highly achieved family. No exaggeration.

Lesbians in the family, teen pregnancy and dodged jail time tends not to fall in their list of accomplishments, nor familiarity thereto. Neither does nailing up a house in freezing weather, or unclogging a stubborn compressor at 7 am. For that matter, fishing, cutting firewood and the ability to re-wire a bathroom. Stuff I do.

Since it’s an annual sort of thing, and I’m all about the continuity of traditions and the old ways, let me just keep the annual response to all sibling inquiries the same as its always been. You know, so as not to unduly upset anybody.

“Dear Siblings,

Up Yours.”

With much affection, Outfoxed.

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