We’ve all been there: out with friends for dinner, a few glasses of wine, and then the drive home. The drive home has become akin to riding the gauntlet. Will I get stopped? I had two glasses of wine, is it enough to put me over the edge on the breathalyzer? Calculating my blood alcohol level is enough to make me insane. Thus I’ve renamed the DUI: Driving Under Insanity.
Last summer I experienced such an evening. I was on my way home, about 8:30 p.m. traveling down Main Street in Excelsior, when a police car flashed his spotlight on me. I don’t know if my reaction to patrol cars is a left over from childhood or not. When I was about twelve years old, my friends and I thought it was great fun to raid gardens. Looking back on this sport is appalling to me now, but pulling out stalks of sweet corn and carrots put me into fits of laughter. Typically a patrol car would spot us and chase us down. The excitement and hilarity of being chased while clutching my hoard of vegetables to my chest was intoxicating. Unfortunately this behavior stayed with me.
Years later I’m driving my daughter home from Bible Study when I flew through a speed trap. At this time my daughter was in driver’s ed. and I was coaching her on the correct practice of driving skills. In my rear view mirror I spot an officer holding up his radar gun and motioning to the officer in the car to follow me. I quickly turned down a side street, parked in a driveway, shut off my car, and told my daughter to duck. The patrol car passed right on by. My daughter then asked me what I was doing and I said, well that was a cop chasing us and we just out ran him. “Mother!” she exclaimed. Later I thought about her repeating this story to her Bible study group and I was duly chagrined.
Fast forward to the future, this patrol car sitting on Excelsior Boulevard triggered my flight response. I quickly turned off on a side street, hoping to lose him. (Never do this!) He did, however, catch me. I had a mantra repeating in my head: two glasses of wine over the course of three hours. I had dinner. I had two glasses of water. I’ll be fine. I’ll be over the limit. I’m screwed. I’m going to jail. The first thing the officer asked me why had I turned off onto this side street? He said that all he was trying to do was alert me that my lights were off. Digesting that information, I couldn’t speak. He told me to turn my lights on, which I did, but being completely out of sorts, I turned on the wipers instead, front and back. I couldn’t find the light switch. The officer then asked for my license and insurance. While he was checking out my record inside the patrol car, I obsessed over the headlines in the morning paper: Mother of four arrested for DUI. He came back to the car and asked me to step outside, at which time I melted down and started to whimper about how this was all his fault for getting me so completely flustered. He opened the door and waited patiently for me to exit the car. On shaking legs (high heels, no less) I stood before him. He put a pen light up to my eyes and asked me to follow the light. He asked me how much I’d had to drink. “Two glasses of wine.” (the truth). He asked me why then did I turn off onto the side street. “I realized I’d left my sunglasses at the restaurant.” (big fat lie).
Then he said. Get your sunglasses and go straight home. He followed me back to the restaurant and waited until I so called retrieved the sunglasses. Needless to say I had a big fat glass of wine when I got home!