I’ve decided Fridays are for stories. Here’s this Casual Friday’s story.
Houston was sweltering, sticky, and gross. The air is like if someone tried to smother you in an armpit. Damp. Dank. We hated it but the same fate awaited everyone when we stepped out our front door. I frequently found myself enveloped in the damp dank, not only because I chose to leave the comfort of sweet, sweet air conditioning but because I commuted to work on my bicycle. 40 minutes there, 40 minutes back, along the banks of the bayou that ran by my apartment. Now, don’t be confused. A bayou is just a dressed up term for a drainage ditch. Sure, there’s ducks and fish and all kinds of natural growth to see along the bike path there. But there’s also trash. Shopping carts. Empty beverage containers filled with liquids I would deem to be HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS. But the bayou was my path to and fro.
I was biking home from work one afternoon in this living outdoor gym towel atmosphere when I noticed a police car traveling along next to me. It was odd, as the car seemed to keep pace with me. I’m not fast on my bike by any stretch of the imagination, so the behavior had definitely caught my attention. I was just minutes from home. I tested my theory by deciding to cut through a nearby parking lot to the apartment. Sure enough, as soon as the police car reached a driveway, he pulled in and waved me over with a hand out the window. I’m busted. Who knows for what for, but I’m about to find out.
“Hello. How are you doing today?” Yes, SUCCESS. I am the one to initiate contact. I am playing it cool… But my mind is racing, trying to think of what laws I had broken; what sort of obscure Texan code I’ve violated. Was it “Wearing A Headcovering That Is Not A Cowboy Hat (on a Tuesday)?” Have I accidentally “Impersonated a Historic Figure Without a License”?
The cop says he’s fine and asks where I’m heading off to. I explain that my apartment is close by and “Judge Judy’s on at 4, you know.” He asks if I like to bike and I explain that yes, I do, as the adventure offered by the near by drainage bayou ditch is enjoyable and preferable to risking the streets with Houston drivers. More chit chat and soon he’s explaining to me how he’s able to use the computer inside his car to instant message the other cops around. “You see, it’s like real time. On the screen.” It still hasn’t occurred to me that this cop is hitting on me. Not until he says, “So, Lauren, how can I see you again?”
The unrelenting dryer vent that is Houston does not make for attractive people. ESPECIALLY people who ride bikes. I am shiny and sweaty and red. I am in my biking vest and sunglasses, with my hair thrown back in a ponytail and fingerless biking gloves on. Ew. EW! I cannot fathom why this cop has taken an interest in me. I’m also on year seven or so of my long term relationship with my now husband. I don’t know how hitting on people works! I was just trying to be nice and make my aggressive sweating look natural!
“So, Lauren, how can I see you again?” The question throws me into a fit of stammers and the cop laughs. “You’re married, aren’t you?” OH THANK GOD. AN OUT.
“OH YEAH HA HA MAN I AM SUPER MARRIED OH HA HA SORRY ABOUT THAT.” I said, losing all control of volume in my voice. I have the sense to point to my left hand, where a wedding ring would be if I had one. We weren’t engaged yet, but luckily the glove concealed this. “YUP SORRY. SUUUPER MARRIED.”
The cop shakes his head and says something about how ‘all the good ones are taken’. We laugh and I say, “Well, nice meeting you and, I guess, have a nice life?” because what do you say to the cop ten years your senior who has unsuccessfully tried to ask you out? I rushed home to the comfort of a/c and Judge Judith Sheindlin. She is the only connection I desire to have with the penal system.