I guess it actually WAS me, officer

Story time: on Monday I was walking home from work when I was pulled over by a cop. I’d like to say I was doing something nefarious, like jay-walking, but in fact I was crossing the street while the light was green. Having just missed my chance to press the walk button, I’d decided to cross anyways rather than waiting through an entire cycle, which seemed like an inefficient use of time (especially since this particular intersection has no specially marked turn lanes or green arrows). Alas, poor Yorick, a policeman was the second car across the way. He flicked on his lights, turned the car around in the intersection, and got out so that he could ask me – just as I’d gotten back up on the sidewalk – if I knew what the big red hand meant.

I told him I did. This didn’t seem like enough, so I added that I’d also assumed that I was safe to cross since the light was green. As it turns out: no I was not. He asked for my license, presumably to make sure there weren’t any outstanding warrants for my arrest, and (when it turned out that there weren’t) let me off with a warning. “Ma’am,” the young man was good enough to add, “if you were hit by a car while crossing without a walk signal, they couldn’t get in any legal trouble for it.”

Good heavens. I’m sure that would be the first thing on my mind if I was hit by a car while crossing the street.

However, not wanting to appear ungracious for this solicitude, I thanked him. He drove away, I walked the rest of the way home, and, once the door was shut behind me, bawled my eyes out.

I’ve reacted to rebukes like this since I was child. Actually, a couple years ago my parents admitted that I was the easiest kid in the world to punish. Mom would ask mildly, “What do you have to say for yourself?” and: weepy apologies. Dad would give me a disappointed look: instant tears. This wasn’t youngest child sway-you-with-waterworks manipulation tactics, this was Katy-bar-the-door-I-wish-I-could-hold-them-back-but-I-just-can’t tears. Now that I’m older the main difference is that I can usually hold off until I’m somewhere private. That, and I interject my weeping with despairing – if somewhat unintelligible – cries of, “Grow up!” “Stop crying, you pathetic baby!” and “What’s the matter with you-hoo-hoo-boo-hooooooo!!!” Verbal self-abuse has not, I’m sorry to say, decreased my oversensitivity.

Fortunately, I’m brought up as quickly as I’m cast down. About fifteen minutes later the whole thing struck me as funny, as it should have from the start.

Honestly, I’m a really big fan of the police. I think they do a hard job and get a lot of flak for it, mostly because people hate to be confronted by their own wrongdoing – whether major or minor (and sometimes: especially minor). Even in this case he was simply following the law to the letter. The absolute worst construct I can put on the whole affair is that he’s the kind of cop that drives around town during the summer, shutting down lemonade stands when their underage employees can’t produce a city-sanctioned business license. Not exactly the Sheriff of Nottingham.

(The best is that he was so struck by my overpowering beauty that this entire thing was a ruse; he took the chance presented to him to ask for my license, and will spend the better part of six months stalking me now that he knows my name and address. Yes, I’m so desperate that this is the good construct.)

(Of course, he also would’ve discovered that I’m older than I look, which would explain why a guy that looked my age had the unforgiveable audacity to call me “ma’am.” Instead of stalking me, he’s likely wiped a hand across his brow, congratulating himself on his close shave.)

(In other news: )

But here’s the real take-home lessons from my brush with the law. That:

  1. The big red hand means that I can be legally mowed down by turning vehicles, and
  2. It’s actually quite nice to live in a town where the cops are so bored that they have nothing better to do than pull over pedestrians for crossing the street out of turn.

Turns Out There’s a Reason FOREVER ALONE is a Popular Internet Meme

Last Sunday night my loneliness got to me. Most days I can find a lot of contentment in singleness (the greatest advantage of which is the fact that I have no one to answer to but myself; if I want to go out and do something at the drop of a hat I can), but once every month or so the absolute alone-ness of my existence just crushes me. I was so sad, in fact, that I actually typed “I’m going to die alone” in Google search, because Google cares deeply about my emotional wellbeing.

(I can’t believe I’m admitting to this. But stick with me.)

Search result #1 was an article from Cosmopolitan, titled “18 Signs You’re Going to Die Alone.” Now, I dislike Cosmopolitan; first by instinct, and second for more practical reasons – on principle, and because the woman one homeowner before me never informed the mail wizards at Cosmopolitan that she’d moved. Though she’s clearly dodging her financial troubles by refusing to inform anyone of her change in address, she can somehow still afford a lifelong subscription to one of the dirtiest magazines you can buy in a grocery store checkout line. No. No I do not want to know how to drive him wild, and I especially don’t want to find out while standing behind the mom with three kids under four and in front of the seventy year old lady reshuffling her coupons for the sixteenth time.

Mind you, it wouldn’t bother me so much if a) they gave up after the first dozen “NO LONGER LIVES HERE” notices I’ve sent back to them, and b) I wasn’t the kind of overly self-conscious person that worries about what her mailman thinks of her. It bothers me that he may think I want Cosmopolitan delivered to my house now that I’ve given up returning to sender (never mind that he’s almost certainly never thought about it). So normally I’d forget that noise and move on.

Unfortunately, I’d hit a rather low point in my evening by then and I was looking to cry over anything, including any or all of the 18 signs that I might be exhibiting. Not that I’d set a lot of store by Cosmopolitan come sunrise (my mood always improves with daylight), but if I wanted to really mourn, I’d do it thoroughly. Was I destined to be forever alone? I had to know. So I clicked on the link.

This greeted me:

The article only got better after that. Probably because Sign #8 (When the sun is setting and there’s a bit of a breeze and you feel alone but content and you decide to stop looking for The One*) was absurdly familiar, only it had been 11 at night and I could just make out the Milky Way, which always makes me feel tragically poetic. According to the article, “this moment probably feels really profound right now, but that’s just because you’re overtired…you will forget about this by lunchtime next Wednesday.” What a blow to discover that Cosmopolitan, of all magazines, had my number. Follow that up with a Reddit thread discussion that clocks in as search result number 3 (in which I read what I would sound like if I actually admitted these things on a public forum; if there’s anything that can sober a moment of melodrama it’s finding out that my ghost of teenager past isn’t even original), and at that point I had absolutely no choice but to laugh at myself.

That had to have been the most cathartic Google search I’ve ever experienced. Honestly, now I kind of wish this is just how Google always responded to this particular query:

I spent the rest of the evening on YouTube, cheerfully listening to the same two piano compositions over and over again, because until I can afford a piano I have to practice using Professor Harold Hill’s think system**. I’ll admit, I’ve had more productive evenings. But I had a good one, which, considering that I’d been prepped to weep all night, was productive enough.

Now there was a segue that really didn’t belong. Anyways (and as always): same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. Never mind that it’s never the same Bat-time. I’ll try to have something of creative worth on the next go round.

*I don’t actually believe in “The One.” I do believe that passion, compatibility, and emotions have their place, but I also know that love has as much – if not more – to do with the choices we make rather than the feelings we feel.

** For the uninitiated, Harold Hill is a conman in one of my go-to musicals***, in which he gets around knowing neither how to read music nor how to play any of the instruments he just sold to every boy in town (with the promise that he would teach them how to play) by instructing his students to simply think the Minuet in G over and over again until they can play it. I’ll let you know how it works out for me.

***For the record, “The Sound of Music” is my favorite musical of all time and I’ve never bothered ranking the rest; but if I did, “The Music Man” would be somewhere near the top.