Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Run In With the Law

True story - 23 years ago I had my first and only run in with the law.  I was in college in St. Peter at the time and was doing about the only thing there was to do in St. Peter - drinking beer.  KT and I had just started dating at the time and, along with other friends, decided to go to a party.  The party was your typical early 90's party which involved a $3.00 keg cup, loud music and bad decisions.  This particular party was held in an apartment situated above one of the businesses lining the main drag in St. Peter.  You reached the apartment by climbing a long, dimly lit stairway from the back alley.

As was (and I'm sure still is) the case, word of the party spread quickly on our small college campus and by the time we arrived, the place was packed.  We forked over our requisite admission cost, grabbed our keg cup and got in the never-ending line for the keg.  By the time we neared the keg, we were parched and exploring other drinking options for the evening as it was evident getting a cup full of beer was going to be difficult amongst the throngs of college students in their never ending search for a buzz.  When we finally were able to gain possession of the precious tap, we noticed a commotion at the far end of the apartment near the entrance.  Word soon filtered back that the police had arrived and the party was going to be shut down.  I had experienced legal interruptions to parties before and knew the best possible reaction was to slam as many beers down my throat as possible before the precious keg was confiscated.  So, for the next several minutes, I furiously put down beer after beer, determined to receive my $3.00 worth.

After about 20 minutes, word circulated to our now tightly formed keg circle that this was no ordinary police bust.  Instead of simply taking the keg and telling us all to go home, St. Peter's finest were using this party as a fundraiser.  They were checking identification of each party goer and issuing breathalyzers and citations to those consumers who happened not to be of legal drinking age.  Shit.  Our plans quickly changed.  One of the more adventurous of our gang thought the only reasonable solution would be to rush down the stairs in a mass exodus into the night, allowing the police to grab only a few in their trap while the rest of us would go free.  In my now tipsy state, I was on board.  We moved en masse to the stairway, summoning up our courage and quickly failing dexterity.  Once we arrived at the top of the stairs and looked down, our plan quickly fell apart.  There were no fewer than 20 uniformed officers awaiting us at the bottom of the stairs.  Full of liquid courage as I was, I still had the capacity to realize that this wasn't going to work and I retreated to the back of the apartment to reconsider.

One of my fellow party-goers then mentioned that his brother (or friend, cousin, whomever) swore that he once evaded an underage consumption by furiously sucking on a penny.  Apparently, the copper in the penny neutralized all signs of alcohol and you could pass the breathalyzer with ease simply by sticking a dirty grimy penny in your mouth and going to town on it.  Brilliant!  We all quickly grabbed any pennies we could find and started sucking away.  I can only imagine the sight of the ten or so of us, mouths full of pennies and devilish grins on our face knowing we had outsmarted the law.  Gradually, the party thinned and we were faced with the inevitable - it was our turn to head down the stairs.  One of our party, my friend Nick, chose a different route.  He spied a section in the ceiling he could conceivably crawl into and avoid detection.  He split from us, used a chair as leverage and disappeared into the ceiling where he promptly took a nap.  The rest of us spit out our pennies and got in line for the breathalyzers.

As I watched the first four of my fellow penny suckers fail their "test" miserably, I became concerned that our ingenious solution may not be so ingenious after all.  Time for Plan C.  My brother, attending college 70 miles away, was 21.  As I didn't have any form of identification on me, I could simply say that I was him.  I knew his full name, date of birth and address.  Keep in mind this was before the internet, so quickly verifying with a photo was much more difficult.  I recited his pertinent information over and over again in my head as I waited for my turn to blow into the breathalyzer.  When my turn finally came, I was shaking nervously, but still convinced I would be able to beat this.  The cop asked for my name, to which I immediately responded, "Paul Kruse."  Shit again.  I totally choked.  Now, I had to determine whether to try to say I had erred in giving my name and come up with an elaborate hoax as to how I could have possibly forgotten my own name or just accept my fate.  I chose the latter.

My $3.00 keg cup that evening ended up costing my $173.00 after paying my underage consumption fine.  My buddy Nick, on the other hand, calmly slept for three or four hours before emerging from the ceiling.  He gave a quick nod to the shocked and by now depressed party hosts (they were in much bigger trouble than a simple underage consumption), and walked home.  The total ticket tally for the fine governmental offices of St. Peter was well over 100.  To this day, rumors persist that there is a plaque in our honor in a new city park built with the funds from this party.

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