Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fair and Partly Cloudy

The Minnesota State Fair always marvels me at how many different foods can be served on a stick. The Fair vendors have proved that stick food shouldn't be exclusive to corn dogs and ice cream bars, putting everything from pork chops to twinkies on a stick. Even hotdish (with cream of mushroom soup dipping sauce) was on the stick menu this year!

I'm still waiting for my ultimate food on a stick: The Old Country Buffet on a yardstick. I have no doubt it would cost $99, but I'd probably still buy it to try it.

I was accompanied by The Rockette, who goes by the handle My Fair Lady this time of year. Our first stop was the animal barns, where she got a great pic of this pig enjoying a tasty treat from what appears to be some sort of beer bong. No wonder brats, bacon, pork chops and sausage all taste so damn good!

This display quickly caught my eye as we walked further into the swine barn. A sign boasted of the winner of the "Minnesota's largest boar contest."

Granted, this 1,040-pound specimen named Corn Dog was no little piggy. However, I do distinctly remember an argument about 10 years ago, when Mom told Dad he was the "biggest boar in Minnesota." So fair officials may have to prove to Mom what the rules are here. If it is simply referring to the heaviest male pig, that's one thing. But she was pretty convinced Dad was the "biggest boar" back then. Hopefully she's forgiven Dad by now or she might even allow the fair to throw him in a pen for a few days.

My Fair Lady snapped this beautiful shot of a billy goat in mid chew. He was pretty vocal, and sounded just like Jim Brewer from Saturday Night Live.

But life at the fair has taken its toll. All the bright lights and attention forced him to spiral down a black hole. As you can see in the background, this billy goat is a total addict, a hay crack whore.

At first, I thought this may have been Mother Goose serving time behind bars ala Martha Stewart for insider trading of golden eggs.

Instead, it ended up being the AFLAC mascot, who was put in the slammer for insurance fraud. Seems he was replacing windshields of cars he shit on for free to avoid multiple small claims court cases.

There were no Trix nearby, so I figured it was safe to assume this rabbit was probably detained by Comcast cable company and all the satellite dish networks.

With ears like his, all you'd have to do is put Mr. Rabbit on top of your TV and run a coaxil cable up his ass. Next thing you know, you'd have 812 channels for the cost of a few bags of carrots each month. It's the secret they don't want getting out.

The highlight of this year's trip was that I actually talked My Fair Lady into attending a freak show. These used to be at the Minnesota State Fair back in the 1980s and featured the likes of Lobster Boy, a legit circus sideshow act.

I was totally lured in by the Worlds of Wonder stage barker bragging they had the last living munchkin from the Wizard of Oz on stage. He was a very elderly little person and his voice sounded like he had been making out with a helium balloon machine, so they had me hook, line and sinker to cough up $9 for My Fair Lady and I to enter the curiousity tent.

Times have changed. The advertising bragged of seeing acts like the Electro Girl, Cobra Girl, a four-legged woman and a live woman with no head. It was all a load of crap.

Maybe it would have been more believable if they had changed girls playing the parts more often. When Electro Girl appeared a minute later as Spidora, it takes some of the fun out of it. Spidora had the head of a real woman, but the body was a obviously stuffed animal. Despite my disappointment, I still wanted to sleep with her (I think because she was half stuffed animal, not for freaky spider sex).

But there were a couple of legit acts, including a tiny contortionist who serpentined her way around a box riddled with saw blades. The barker said "anyone who wants to see proof that a contortionist isn't just a woman who can wrap her ankles around her ears, pay $1 for a closer look." I paid the buck with about 50 other men, all of us knowing no matter what we saw in that box, we would still view contortionists as women who can wrap their ankles around their ears.

There was a real sword swallower that was worth the price of admission. She really did swallow a 2-foot long blade, prompting the teenage hormone next to me to say "I'll give her something to swallow."

"Yeah, but I doubt she's going to feel it in the pit of her stomach like that sword," I told him. "And I also doubt she'll ask a volunteer from the crowd to pull you back out."

Having completely entertained and embarrassed My Fair Lady for another year, it was time to go. On the way out, we walked by a free ride called "The Great Safety Adventure." We didn't go on it, but it was all about educating kids about safety and being super safe.

It was presented by Lowe's, so I imagine it warns kids to not staple their nuts to drywall or drill new assholes in their siblings with power tools. We didn't go in for a closer look, but did have the person taking tickets scratching his head why this safety attraction was so funny.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Scratch and sniff

Leave it to me to have air travel booked for Thursday. When I arrived at the Hartford airport that morning, I'd been living under a work rock for 48 hours and hadn't even heard the news that morning about the terrorist plot from London.

My journey back to the Twin Cities was scheduled to take off at 6:07 AM, and I arrived at the airport about 4:45. That seemed like plenty of time until I reached the security screening checkpoint. The process seemed to be going a lot slower than usual.

As my spot in the line got closer to the entry of the checkpoint, I noticed a small landfill forming - mostly beverages. Then I heard a frail older security employee rasping, as if he'd repeated the same sentence a million times, "Absolutely no liquids allowed in carry-on baggage."

The $2 bottle of water I had just bought 15 minutes ago was obviously going to be my first lost item. I chugged about half of it and threw the rest on the landfill pile, which also welcomed the 10-pack of Juicy Juice from the mom and kid in front of me.

We proceeded into the next checkpoint area, where there was heavier screening than normal, including hand searching of all carry-on bags. I started to think if I had any other liquids in my duffel bag I may have not thought of as I watched it disappear into the X-Ray machine.

"I don't know how my boy's going to make it to Miami with no juice," the Juicy Juice Momma sighed to me. "He's always thirsty. If he don't get juice, he whines worse than his daddy for a beer after mowin' the lawn."

"You think you have problems," the gabby rich bitch in front of her interrupted. "They want to take away my expensive rain forest shampoo. You can only get it in Ecuador..."

She babbled some bullshit about how local villagers painstakingly collect fresh beehive honey, dew from banana leaves and rain forest trees, the finest coconut milk, salamander saliva, and butterfly sweat before delicately mixing it with local fruits and herbs. OK, so I made up the salamander saliva and butterfly sweat, but was this the airport security screening line, or the lead-in for some new Nick Chavez QVC Today's Special Value?

"That sucks they took it away because it costs about $60 down there, which is like a year's salary to many locals," she bragged. "Don't let their hard work go to waste. You better go ahead and smell me now that you have the chance."

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"Go ahead, smell me," she whispered, leaning her head towards my nose. "I know you want to. Smell me."

"Smell you? I hardly even know you," I replied.

She kept moving her head in unison with my retreating nose as if she was a cobra being charmed by a flute.

"No, I'm fine, really," I said, trying to stretch my neck to giraffe-like proportions.

What did she think we were - St. Bernards meeting for the first time? She wasn't exactly asking me to sniff her ass to say hello, but human beings generally don't throw body parts around and ask others to snort them like a line of cocaine.

"I gotta little itch right here," she pointed to the top of her scalp. "Maybe you can scratch, then sniff. Get it? Like the stickers!"

If the creepy conversation wasn't enough, she had a bushel of her bleach-blonde straw in her hand, pulling it towards my nose. She didn't need to practically pull her hair out for me to get a whiff. Everyone in line had already noticed the odor coming off her mophead.

"It's invigorating, isn't it?" she squeaked. "My hair smells just like the rain forest."

If the rain forest smells like toucan taint, why the fuck are we trying to save it? Granted, I've never buried my sniffer into the crotch of that colorful bird, but her hair definitely smelled like bird shit blended with notes of Froot Loops.

A security officer rescued me from the Toucan Samantha trainwreck to inform me he needed to search my toiletries bag. He emptied about half of it, then apologized for taking my toothpaste, mouthwash and shampoo.

"That's OK," I said. "I stole all of those things from the hotel room anyway. I know the rules now, so next time I'll just take the shower cap and the shoeshine rag."

The items that they were confiscating got my wheels turning as to what this new terrorist threat was. Has Al Qaeda turned to MacGyver DVDs to try and figure out newer and more inventive ways to attack us?

"Please, kiddo, you can't take that!" the 60-something playboy next to me pleaded to another security officer. "That cost me $75!"

The item in question was a mammoth cologne bottle, roughly the size of a 1.75-litre party jug of whiskey. I had no idea they had a perfume counter at Costco.

"Please let me keep my smelly sauce," Old Spice begged. " I have a date with Mildred tonight and when I wear that stuff, she's the clay and I'm the sculptor."

Again, way too much information. The thought of Old Spice molding Mildred ranked right up there with watching Anna Nicole Smith seduce that cadaver; witnessing Hugh Hefner cavorting with those three groupies who are young enough to be his great granddaughters; or viewing that pottery porn scene from Ghost.

But I believed Old Spice. If a bottle that big is his travel cologne, he probably bathes in smelly sauce before his dates with Mildred. Then when Old Spice hugs her, it's probably as if he's smothering her with an ether rag. No wonder he always gets to iron out poor Mildred's wrinkles.

A few minutes later, they cleared me through security. My carry-on bag was a little lighter, but I was on my way back to St. Paul after all.

"My, aren't you festive today," the stewardess sneered when I entered the plane.

I had no clue what she was talking about, but was paranoid I had somehow absorbed a lethal cocktail of scents from Toucan Samantha and Old Spice. The Rockette clued me in when I got home.

"Ha! You wore a bright orange polo shirt today and the terror threat was orange," The Rockette giggled. "Your color coordination was a noble public service. Nice move, honey."

She suggested that next time I wear camoflauge so I blend in better. The Rockette thought the bright orange shirt may have also acted as a weirdo porch light, attracting moths like Toucan Samantha and Old Spice.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Juicy, Not Fruit

Like any young kid, I was full of questions for my parents to answer. Why this. Why that. I'll have to admit, Dad had the most unique answers of any father I've ever heard.

"Dad, which came first - the egg or the chicken?" I'd ask.

"The rooster," Dad would chuckle.

Dad's answers were brief and to the point. Sometimes his actions spoke louder than words.

Like the time he was digging a huge hole to install a swimming pool at our house in Virginia. I noticed a gigantic beetle, probably the size of a bandicoot, staggering across the cement.

"What kind of bug is that?" I asked, lying on my stomach, my face inches away from the mother of all insects.

Dad took a break from his digging, slung his 25-pound sledgehammer across his shoulder and looked down for a moment. He grinned, then reared back with the hammer, slamming it down on the bug.

The beetle splattered under the fury of Dad's hammer, sending a tidal wave of juicy bug inards all over my face.

"A dead one," Dad muttered before realizing he had vandalized my face with bug juice.

I let out a blood-curdling scream that was probably heard for miles and began to grope blindly at the air, my eyes covered with Beetlejuice.

Dad pulled out his hankerchief and wallet simultaneously, dropping dollar bills while trying frantically to wipe all that buggy goodness off my face.

"Don't tell Mom about this. Don't tell Mom," he pleaded.

It was too late. A mother knows her child's cry and she was on the scene in seconds. Dad was busted and I was $13 richer, so in the end the traumatic incident didn't bug me.

After that, I didn't ask Dad too many questions. With him, I figured I was better off finding answers myself.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rock Hard

So Paris Hilton says she's going to give up sex for one year. Big deal. In my late 20s, I gave it up for 4.

Not by choice, but hey, I still gave it up. Unlike Paris, I hadn't walked away from a Hilton-esque sex life. There were no best-selling videotapes like One Night in Paris. Alas, the best I could have offered would have been Rocky Mountin' High available only on Beta.

I'm not surprised I had such a long dry spell. Maybe it was because Mom put me between a rock and a hard place when it came to sex education.

In fourth grade, I started to realize the girls in my class were losing their cooties. I also noticed that I was getting more frequent hard-ons, especially in the morning.

The latter was a bit concerning. The only time a body part had ever swelled up that big was when I broke my wrist. I had fallen off my bike and hit my nuts on the crossbar a few times, but would this make my ding dong swell up every day for 14 months? Something was not adding up here.

Dad was out of town, but I couldn't dick around until he got back home. I needed to know the answers to my questions immediately. Mom didn't have a penis, but she was swiftly thrown under a hot light for questioning. My theory that the hard-on served as a sort of "kick-stand" so boys wouldn't accidentally roll out of bed was shot down immediately by Mom.

She assured me morning wood was not a medical emergency, a safety feature for boys, or extra pee that had somehow lost its way. It was the foundation of baby-making.

"Wow, so the stork doesn't bring babies?" I asked.

"No, that's just a story we use until you're old enough to understand where they really come from," Mom chuckled, before rattling off a brief scientific explanation of the birds and the bees.

"So babies come from hard-ons?" I asked, still confused.

"Yes, but it's not that simple..." Mom said.

"What about a stork with a hard on?" I interrupted. "Then can he bring a baby?"

Mom pondered this one for a moment, but then admitted that as long as the stork had a stiffy, a baby would be sure to follow.

"That's how it all starts," Mom beamed. "First of all, before anything happens, the penis has to be hard."

"How hard?" I asked.

"Rock hard," Mom said. "It has to be rock hard or nothing works."

From that day forward, I thought if my penis didn't feel like a slab of granite, I would never become a father. This was instantly troubling. I wasn't impotent, and I'd had at least as many hard-ons as chicken pox to that point of my life. But not one had been "rock hard." I calmed myself by thinking that surely by the time I was 14 or 15, I would get these rock hard ons, and at that moment I was just too young.

When I was a freshman in high school, I still hadn't been rock hard. Sure, I had been close. I'd been as hard as a ridiculously overstarched shirt. I was a little concerned, but I figured I was a late bloomer. Maybe another wave of puberty would hit me and I would be rock hard in no time.

High school graduation came and went, but I still had not been rock hard. I had been as hard as Play-Doh that had been left out without the cap on the container, but still not quite rock hard. I had come a long way since the starched shirt days, though.

I was starting to feel a little insecure about my erections at this point. I was in my sexual prime, so it was hard almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at this point. But I couldn't honestly say it was rock hard. I worried that I might be at the peak of hardness. The closest I had gotten to rock hard was adobe. But my geology professor and everyone else knew that this wasn't really hard rock, it was just dried-up mud.

What was I going to do? I was 19 and still had not been rock hard. I wondered if I'd ever procreate.

A few years later, a girlfriend told me she was pregnant. I doubted it was mine from the start. After all, I had only been as hard as petrified wood at best when we had sex. For about a week we were sweating bullets, but it turned out she wasn't pregnant.

"Ha! See?!" I told her. "You're lucky I had not been rock hard or we'd be shopping for baby clothes right now!"

We broke up a couple of months later and then I went into that 4-year sexual drought, becoming a born-again virgin.

OK, I didn't give up getting frisky willingly for a pre-determined time like Paris Hilton claims she is going to do. I made a "deal" with myself I wouldn't have sex again until I met the woman I wanted to marry. I didn't think it would take 4 years to find The Rockette. No lovin' for 48 months was tough.

After that I was rock hard.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Jailhouse Rocky, Part 3

I longed to be a chick magnet back in 1991, but alas, I was more of a cop magnet. I must have smelled like dozens of donuts or something.

I had just been thrown in jail for beer in the park the previous summer. Now four short months later, I would soon wonder if I was being "profiled" - The police now targeting husky smartass 20-something white kids. Bastards.

It was the night before Homecoming at North Dakota State Univeristy. Not a creature was stirring that Friday night at the fraternity, not even a mouse. Really. Everyone was out at the bars. The "pre-party" really only started about 1 or 2 AM.

I had just gotten off work from the newspaper and was enjoying a couple of cool ones with my buddy Grant, who also had just arrived back at the house from his work shift. Soon, we were joined by three other poor bastards who were trying to put themselves through school. We were just hanging out, shooting the breeze, wondering how many levels of drunkeness we were behind the throng of people who would soon be coming home from the bars.

Then, out of nowhere, a Fargo police cruiser screeched to a halt in front of our fraternity house. The officer inside shone a spotlight on us for about 2 seconds, then pulled over on a side street and turned on his cherries.

The officer walked up to the front porch cautiously, one hand firmly gripping a huge flashlight he was shining on us and the other firmly on his holstered revolver. Grant jokingly asked if this was about that panty raid 3 years ago.

"All right, what's going on here?" the officer barked.

"Uhhh, we're just hanging out having a couple of beers," I said. "We all just got off work and are winding down."

"IDs now!" he shouted.

"Why?" Grant asked.

"Because I don't think any of you are old enough to drink, that's why!" he snapped.

This was amusing because I was the young pup of the group at 22. The rest of the guys ranged between 23 and 25. After showing our proof of age, we kind of thought that would be the end of it, so we kept on drinking and visiting.

Suddenly, the cop asked who lived at the fraternity. Out of the five of us, only Grant and I did. He asked us to come back to the squad car and chat for a bit. We did, thinking nothing of it. But the next thing you know, he's driving away with us in the backseat.

"What did we do?" Grant asked. "Why have we been arrested?"

"Don't worry about it," he said. "Just cooperate and everything will be fine."

"But what are we being arrested for?" I asked.

"Don't make this difficult," he said. "Let's just say that this is life in the fastlane."

"What the fuck?" Grant, who was even more outspoken than me, said. "What's with this Dirty Harry bullshit?!"

Dirty Harry drags us into the Cass County jail about 5 minutes later. We announced to the booking area that we've been arrested, but haven't been read our rights or told what we've been arrested for.

A supervisor pulled Dirty Harry into a small office that has a window. We couldn't hear what the superior officer was telling Dirty Harry, but it was obvious he was getting his ass chewed sideways. When Dirty Harry emerged from his meeting, he informed us we were going down for "loud party ordinance."

"Loud party? There were five of us and we didn't even have a radio on, you fucking pelican," Grant said. "What a bunch of bullshit!"

"Tell it to the judge," Dirty Harry smirked.

Dirty Harry was joined by a red-haired deputy, Carrot Top, to book us. He was just as big an asshole as Dirty Harry. Grant and I made a lot of "ooo" and "aahhh" noises while we were being frisked as if we were watching breath-taking stunts at a circus.

"Rocky, don't let Carrot Top get to third base with you," Grant said. "Tell him you don't go that far on the first date."

Carrot Top was ready to frisk my lower extremities at this point. He told me to "spread 'em," but I only opened my legs a few inches. He repeatedly told me to spread 'em, but I would only comply with an inch or two at a time. Finally, Carrot Top started trying to kick my legs apart. But I had my heels dug into that fucking concrete. Carrot Top was about half my size and just couldn't get them apart. The whole booking area was laughing because he was getting very flustered.

"Is that gum in your mouth, son?" Carrot Top asked. "You need to spit that out now."

"What?!" I asked. "It's just juicy fruit."

"I said spit it out, kid," he yelled. "Remove the gum, now!"

"Why?" I asked, spitting the gum into his hand. "Do you think I'm fucking MacGyver or something and am going to build a bomb with my wad of gum and a toilet paper tube?"

As we were being led into the jail area, Grant and I could hear dozens of abortion protesters who were arrested earlier that day singing "Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore." Grant and I joined in the singing, but were doing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in a round. This got the abortion protesters riled up, so Carrot Top marched us down to our own private wing where we could only amuse ourselves.

No sooner was Grant in his cell (they separated us), then he kind of went nuts. He threw three rolls of toilet paper into his shitter and flushed it about six times, flooding our wing. I wasn't that bold, so I just grabbed a tin cup and started rattling on the bars of my cell while singing "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen..."

"Hey, Rocky," Grant said after he spotted an open phone book about 10-12 feet away on a table in the cell wing's common area, "watch this shit!"

He proceeded to climb to the top rung of horizontal bars in his cell, dropped his pants to his knees, and started pissing on the phone book. It was an impressive stream, similar to that of a fire hose. It looked like he had the talent to piss over a bus - the long way - if he would have wanted to. Anyway, a minute later, the phone book was sporting a more golden hue.

"Now they're really the yellow pages!" he screeched.

"Yeah, but instead of your fingers, you let your dick do the walking," I joked.

Carrot Top heard all the hysterical laughing and ruckus over this and returned to our cell area. Needless to say, he flipped when he saw the toilet had flooded. He was absolutely horrified when he saw the sopping yellower pages.

"You sick sonuvabitches," he snarled, re-checking our cell doors to make sure they were secure. "I don't know how the hell you did it, but I know one of you fuckers got out and pissed on it!"

About 20 minutes later, Carrot Top delivered the news that a fraternity alumnus had posted a $2,000 check to spring us both out of jail (the rich dude also took us out to eat at Taco John's later). I was released immediately, but Grant was detained until he mopped up the floor from his flooded toilet and threw away the soiled phone book.

We actually had to go to court over the "charges." We were facing up to $1,500 fines and 90 days in jail over this party ordinance (punishment usually reserved for those throwing a kegger for hundreds of people). Luckily, the best attorney (he's not my cousin, but I'll call him Vinny) in the state happened to be an alumnus of our fraternity and took the case for free (and for fun).

He got the case thrown out in about 5-10 minutes. Dirty Harry was the only person to take the stand.

"How far was the porch from the street?" Vinny asked.

"Ummmm, I'm not sure, 20-25 feet?" Dirty Harry replied.

"No, it's 58 yards, I measured it," Vinny said. "So, tell me officer, from a distance of 58 yards in the dark, you thought these young men were underage drinkers?"

"Ummm, yes," Dirty Harry said.

"Did you see bloodshot eyes from that distance?" Vinny asked.

"No," Dirty Harry said sheepishly.

"And after they provided proof they were old enough, why were they arrested?" Vinny asked.

"Because they just kept drinking and talking," Dirty Harry said, his teeth grinding.

"Hmmmm, these legal age men kept drinking on the porch of their house after showing you they had the right to do so," Vinny said. "Isn't the real reason you brought Grant and Rocky to jail that night because they didn't pass your personal attitude test. Which, I might add, no one probably passes. Would you call it good police work to haul in two innocent men for that?"

Our attorney then told the judge about how we were brought in without being read our rights or told why were were being arrested, then detained for 2 hours on a bogus charge. We had 5 witnesses, including neighbors, ready to testify on our behalf that there was no loud party going on that night. But Dirty Harry's testimony was all we needed. The judge had heard enough.

"I see you young men got a little out of hand while in custody," the judge said, reading over our 5-page police report (seriously, it was that long). "Normally this kind of behavior would only get you in more trouble. But under the circumstances that you felt you were being held for no reason, I will look past it today. I dismiss all charges against the defendants."

That was great, but the best part of being thrown in jail twice? That made me the FIRST and SECOND grandchild to be arrested.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Jailhouse Rocky, Part 2

If I would have known I was going to jail that sunny July day in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, I would have done something zany like bust the tops off of parking meters or trade stocks for Martha Stewart. That just sounds so much better than the beer-related offense I was busted for.

No, it wasn't a DUI. Not public drunkeness. Not even minor in possession. I went to the slammer for beer in the park back in 1991. The worst part of it? It was my first beer that day and I didn't even get to finish it.

I had just arrived in Detroit Lakes with a couple of friends. The atmosphere was like spring break, with lots of bikini-clad girls and booze. No sooner had we stepped out of the car when we cracked our first beers. A big day of fun in the sun was ahead, so I thought I better empty my "cargo hold" before I got down to some serious partying.

I trotted over to a bathroom a half block away in a small park. On the way back, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was Barney Fife's stunt double. He glared down at my beverage.

"Is that beer in that container?" he asked. "Because if it is, you're going to have to come over to the car with me."

I didn't have a panic attack yet. This was the same guy who let some Girl Gone Wild off earlier from an obvious DUI because she flashed him. I wasn't drunk enough to expose myself to get out of whatever trouble I was in, but I had seen people walking around with open containers all day in clear view of the police. I figured they just thought I was underage. Once I proved I was legal, I'd be on my way because people were passing by the cop car, alcoholic beverages in plain sight, pointing at me and laughing.

I waved back at them laughing and gave Barney my ID. I told him there was no problem because I was legal drinking age despite my boyish looks.

"Well, actually, there is a problem," he said. "We have a city ordinance here in Detroit Lakes. It's illegal to have beer in the park or on the beach."

"Really? Wow, I would have never guessed with everyone walking around with their drinks," I replied. "Do you think you could just give me a warning? This is my first time in town. Sorry, I had no clue it was illegal."

"Yeah, right," Barney said. "Give me a break, Mr. Liar. You're from Fargo, so you've been here before. Probably every weekend. That's why you're going downtown."

"I'm going to jail for having a beer in the park?" I asked, utterly stunned.

"That's right," he said. "In Fargo, maybe they let you big city boys get away with things like murder and arson. But we have rules here in Detroit Lakes."

OK, first of all, I was no killer. Just because I was from Fargo didn't mean I regularly ran my victims through a wood chipper. I was no arsonist either, unless you count lighting farts while camping with friends when I was 12. Second, I wasn't a big city boy. Fargo didn't even have 75,000 people. Third, it really was my first time in Detroit Lakes. Usually I was too drunk to leave Fargo. Fourth, Detroit Lakes was too Mayberry to have a downtown. Fifth, this fucker was actually driving away with me in the backseat.

I was going to jail. For beer in the park. What a horseshit reason. I felt so ashamed. Not necessarily for going to jail, but for going to jail over such a paltry offense. The other inmates would tease me to no end over that.

"Isn't the the real reason I'm going to jail is because I'm wearing Bermuda shorts and not a string bikini," I snapped back at Barney. "If I would have showed you some ass, maybe you would have let me off a DUI like that chick I saw you pull over earlier."

"That's enough, college boy!" he screamed. "There's more to you than meets the eye. I've been on the force four months and have been trained to spot the bad guys. Then I nail 'em like a hammer."

"Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to jail," I said hysterically in the backseat. "I bet if I owned all the railroads and a couple of hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place, we could work out some sort of deal. But I don't even have a house on Mediterreanean, so I'm shit out of luck!"

Barney grabbed me by the arm and hauled me into the booking area. He barked at me to empty my pockets, which I did. My only possessions were $37, far short of the $110 needed to post bail, and one of those 3-inch money clips that had a tiny flip out nail file on one side and a mini knife on the other.

"We have a knife here!" Barney announced to the room, holding the blade in the air as if he was displaying a Wesley Snipes' movie prop. "Yep, this guy was hiding a knife. I need to look up the rules and see if this qualifies as a concealed weapon."

"Weapon?" I laughed, snatching it back. "This thing couldn't even cut warm butter..."
To demonstrate, I decided to show him it couldn't even break my skin by running it lightly over my finger. Oops, I gave myself a little slice. I never knew I was a cutter.

Barney grabbed the "knife" and pushed me toward a wall. He told me to "spread them." I was hoping I wouldn't hear that phrase again after meeting my cellmate.

"OK, you're clean," he said, finishing his frisking. "Turn around and back up against the wall. How tall are you?"

"Uh, about 6-foot-4," I said.

"Liar!" he screeched. "You're only 6-3 and a half. The measuring stick is right behind you. Don't lie to me again during questioning."

Have you been arrested before? No. Do you have any outstanding warrants for you? No. Do you have any scars or tattoos? Yes and yes.

My scars, obtained in a 3-wheeler accident with a barbed wire fence 8 years earlier made my left upper arm and neck look pretty rugged. Barney was convinced the scars were a results of my life of crime.

"A barbed wire fence wouldn't cut you up like that," Barney said. "They look like scars from something bigger. Like a knife fight. I have a feeling you are bigtime.

"Are you in a gang?"

"Oh, yeah," I joked. "The Apple Dumpling Gang."

"Not funny," he said. "What about your tattoo on your back? I noticed it's blue. Did you get it when you joined your gang?"
It was a tattoo of the Schlitz Malt Liqour Bull, but this dumb ass really thought I was a Crip or something. My gang was more like something Rascal Flatts would sing about.

Next I was told to strip, and Barney wasn't holding any $1 bills. I started to wonder if this was when the real fun was about to start: Was I on the brink of a cavity search? Barney had pulled so many crazy accusations out of his ass, I wondered when he'd start looking in mine.

"You better take this stuff," he said, handing me a jumpsuit, bedroll and toiletries. "Take a shower and get changed. I have a feeling you're going to be here a long time."

My prison Prada was a white, sleeveless, v-neck jumpsuit. It read "Becker County Jail" in huge letters on the back. I totally wanted to steal it. As I finished getting dressed, two deputies about my size strolled up. Barney thanked them for coming and told them he was scared to take me upstairs in the elevator alone, so he called for backup.

"Oh, please, the worst thing I've ever done in an elevator is fart," I complained. "You think I'm going to jump the three of you in an elevator inside a jail full of police? Just so I don't have to face that beer in the park bullshit? My God! You're mind is more fucked up than Marlon Brando's in Apocolypse Now."

"Yeah, beer in the park," Barney said sarcastically. "I'm sure when your prints and mug get run through all the databases for the FBI, CIA, DEA and ATF, that's all that will come back. You're not fooling anybody, Cool Hand Luke. I know a criminal when I see one. You may not be on the FBI's 10 most wanted, but I know you're on somebody's list"

Usually I'm a pretty patient Teddy Bear, but I was really pissed when Barney decided to cuff my ankles and wrists with these big-ass chains. I guess I should have considered myself lucky that he didn't muzzle me and cart me around like Hannibal. I just gritted my teeth and must have looked like a raging lunatic at this point.

The timing for that was perfect. The elevator reached its floor and the door opened. Here I am, 6-4 (OK, 6-3 and a half), 275 pounds, with all my nasty scars and Crip/Schiltz Malt Liqour Bull tattoo hanging out. I'm visibly furious, being marched out in the general population garb, shackled, escorted by three deputies. I actually heard gasps and whimpers as I was led down the narrow hallway with cells on each side.

I glared in them and saw mostly teenage boys clad in their swimming trunks. I could see the fear in their eyes. They were worried I was window shopping for a new bitch.
At the end of the hall, I was let into a dark cell. I thought I might have the place to myself until out of the shadows walked the meanest dude I'd ever laid eyes on. He had grizzly long hair, a tattered beard and snaggleteeth.

"My name's Thor!" he growled.

"Like the Thunder God, right?" I replied.

We hit it off right away. We started playing cards for cigarettes. I was unbeatable, but unfortunately I didn't smoke. Thor also regaled me with tales about what pricks the cops were, how he didn't care for Dolly Parton's music but loved her tits, and the stories behind his 87 various scars and tattoos.

Soon, we gained another cellmate. He was 15, weighed about 120 and was soaking wet, I'm not sure from the lake or pissing himself. He was shivering either from cold or fright.

"Here kid," I said, offering him my blanket. "You can use this to warm up."
He turned white as a sheet and immediately pressed himself against the wall to protect his ass hymen from Thor and me. I asked Thor about Dolly Parton's boobs to try and lighten the mood and convince our new cellmate we weren't interested in prison rape.

Finally I was given my one phone call to arrange for my release. Unfortunately, I couldn't call my friends because I did not know where they were and no one had cell phones at the time (I found out later they thought I had hooked up with an ex-girlfriend). So I had to call my Dad.

"Oh, no, it's not a DUI, is it?" Dad asked as soon as he heard me say jail.

"No, much worse," I said. "I've been in the slammer 14 hours for beer in the park."

Dad told me not to worry, he'd drive up and bail me out in a couple of hours. He also said if beer in the park was that big of an offense, half the family would currently be serving a life sentence.

When I got back to the cell, our inmate count had increased to six. Thor was giving the group a class on how to roll your jail mattress on one end to make up for the missing pillow.

Before I knew it, breakfast was being served. We got french toast (which was regular toast served with maple syrup), a small army helmet full of Cheerios and a glass of rust juice.

I spent 18 hours in the bighouse for beer in the park, roughly an hour for each ounce of beer I had consumed that day. My release was bittersweet, as I didn't get to participate in any legendary incarcerated activities. Not just lifting weights, making license plates, or starting a prison riot. Better stuff like eating 50 hard-boiled eggs, playing for the Mean Machine football team against the guards, or blaring opera music over the yard loudspeaker.

I vented my lingering anger of being cherry picked out of the bunch for the offense to Dad on the way home. He laughed when I told him the original plan was to party and maybe get laid.

"Don't feel bad," he said. "You can still tell your friends you got screwed last night. Because you pretty much did."

Stay tuned for Part 3, when I go back to the bighouse a few years later. I'm such a jailbird!