Have you ever had it happen? That call that startles you awake in the middle of the night? You hear the ring, and your befuddled mind asks…”What the hell is that?” Time freezes and then you’re awake enough to realize it’s the phone. A split second later, you jackknife up, your heart is in your throat, pounding, because you know, good news doesn’t arrive in the middle of the night. This week, I had the unfortunate opportunity to experience not one, but two of those calls.
On January 15, my phone rang at 12:30 A.M. Of course, I hit the wrong button trying to answer. “Hello?” I finally say when I figure out how to use the phone. My heart is pumping, adrenaline rushes through my veins. My fear is for my nineteen-year-old son in Pennsylvania, attending a four- month school.
“Mom?” My son’s voice fills my ear—panic grips tighter.
“Are you okay?” I struggled to get my tongue unstuck from the roof of my mouth.
What he says next is something you never, ever want to hear your son say.
“Have you ever taken a breathalyzer test? It’s hard.” My mind tries to compute, to digest his words, but for sure, I’m getting mental indigestion.
I don’t answer before he continues, “Did you know I can’t touch my nose with my left hand when I close my eyes?” My indigestion worsens.
He continues and so does my indigestion. Only now, it’s not just mental. “I blame Dad for passing on his lousy balance and inability to walk a straight line. Oh, and tell Dad never to leave his sun tea in my car again. Cop says it looks just like whiskey.”
“Are you in jail?” I swear, I’d just been bragging that somehow hubby and I had convinced my son that he never, ever drink and drive.
He laughs. “It’s another funny Craig story.”
“I don’t think I’m gonna find this one funny,” I say in my maternal not-funny tone.
I was wrong.
You see, Son had agreed to meet one of his fellow students at a local pool hall. A BYOB pool hall. Son, underage and in Pennsylvania, hadn’t brought any beer, but it was being offered left and right. His friend was already pretty soused when son looked at his watch, figured out that he could have one or two beers and would be okay to drive in a few hours. “Mom, I swear I heard that little voice, you know the one you say you are always hearing? Anyway it said, ‘Don’t do it!’ So I didn’t. Not even one beer.” Then, not going to allow his friend to drive, he piled him in his truck and took off back to his apartment. Remember, son is new in town, and not overly familiar with the roads. The flashing blue lights show up a short time later.
The cop comes to the window and tells my son he was driving in the median. Son explains, he thought it was a lane. Son hands over his license and insurance. Drunk friend is passed out. The cop leans in and says, “You been drinking?”
Son answers, “No Sir.”
Suspicious, cop tells him to stay in his truck. He goes back to his car to run a check on son’s license and looks for warrants. Thankfully, my son doesn't have any.
Nevertheless, two other cop cars pull in. One in front of son, and one to his side to prevent him from driving off. “Mom, I swear it was fifteen minutes before he came back to the window. I knew I hadn’t done anything, but crap, I’ve never been in the situation before and I was scared.”
Finally, cop shows back up at the door and tells my son to get out. “Do you want to tell my upfront what you’ve been drinking?” he asked again.
He has my son walk a line. God love the boy, he really did inherit his dad’s balance. “I swear officer. I’m just not coordinated. Mom says I get it from my dad.”
Officer gives my son his next instructions. Stand straight, arms to your side, close your eyes, hold your head up, start with right hand and . . .
“Mom,” son tells me. “I’m scared shitless because you know being dyslexic I don’t do well with oral directions.”
During the nose-touching event the kid in the truck wakes up and tries to get out. That creates commotion and the cops get super nervous. Which makes son more nervous.
Son had to be retold nose-touching directions. “I got my nose with my right hand, Mom. Missed by a mile with my left.”
Cop eyes him. “Son, before I give you the breathalyzer test do you want to confess what you’ve been drinking?”
“Seriously Sir, I’m just clumsy like my dad.”
Cop does the breathalyzer twice. He can hardly believe it. “Looks as if you were telling the truth. But what about your friend?”
Son is honest, though I did tell him he could said it differently. Son told the cop, “He’s pretty much shitfaced. Drunk as a skunk. Which is why I’m driving.”
“How old is he?” cops asks.
Son hesitates, knowing it would sound suspicious. “We just met at school. But I think he’s over twenty-one.”
When they open the door, to get friend out, a bottle falls out. A water bottle half-filled with whiskey-colored fluid. “What is this?” the officer asks.
“Don’t know,” says my son. Drunk kid just shrugs.
“Did you know it’s illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your car?” Cop asks.
“I know,” says son, but doesn’t say anything else because he doesn’t know what’s in the bottle.
Officer has them stay by the car while he tests the liquid.
He returns and hands it to my son. “It’s not alcohol.”
Son holds it up the light and sees the tea bag. “Oh, this is my dad’s sun tea he left in my truck.”
Officer discovers son’s friend is over twenty-one. Officer looks at my son and says. “You know, I really thought this was going to turn out differently. It’s rare when we stumble across a polite kid just trying to do the right thing. I’m not even going to write you a warning.”
I told my son I was proud of him.
January 16th, 4 A.M. Phone rings. “Hello,” tongue is on roof of mouth again, heart is pounding.
“You’re not my voice mail,” Person says
I recognize my daughter’s voice. My mind tries to compute, to digest her words, but for sure I’m getting mental indigestion. Wait! Didn’t that just happen last night? “What’s wrong?” Panic builds, real indigestion occurs.
“Don’t tell me? Another funny Craig story, right?
She laughs harder. “I woke up with a bad dream.” Daughter is over thirty. Does she still need me when she has a bad dream?
“I dreamed I left my purse at the restaurant. Then, because I’m a worrywart like you, I thought I had left it at the restaurant. I got up, found my purse, with my new phone in it. I saw I had a message from you. I hit the button to get the voice mail, but I must have accidentally hit redial.”
Two in one week is too much, even if they are both just funny Craig stories. What can I say, but that my kids are for certain just chips off the old blocks.
So, any excitement in your stomping grounds? Are your kids making you lose sleep? How many of you have taken a breathalyzer test? Come on, share a little.