Whenever I ask my friends if they would care to join me for a cup of tea, or when they see me reading the latest issue of Poets and Writers, their response is usually the same, “Man, Old Pat would kick New Pat’s ass!”
Old Pat wore blingin’ gold watches and chains, sold drugs and wore Phatfarm and Sean Jean. New Pat wears silly golf hats, fitted jeans, and sweaters. Old Pat stood arms crossed at kick backs, drank Hennessey and listened to Gangsta’ Rap. New Pat gets black out drunk on the dance floor and starts grinding with guys to New Wave and Electronic music.
I had just turned 17 and was sitting across from my probation officer Mr. Vincette, who was hunched over his desk reading through my juvenile record. A few months prior, a cop had pulled me over at one in the morning for speeding through a red light. I was drunk and high, and when he searched my car he found a huge sack of pot, brass knuckles, a bag of M-80 fireworks, and an open Old English 40oz in the trunk.
“This is quite a long list of charges you got here.” Mr. Vincette said as leaned back and laced his fingers behind his head.
“Yea, I know,” I said proudly.
“Listen, I know you think you’re tough shit, but you’re ass will get eaten alive in Juvie.”
“You think the judge gonna’ send me to Juvie?” My knee started pogoing in my seat.
“He might. In fact, there’s a good chance he will if you don’t start walking the straight and narrow.”
“Yes Sir. ”
He unclasped his fingers and lurched forward, “I’m serious,” he said. “I’m going to tell your school officer to call me if you’re so much as late to a class. Go straight home after school. And no parties, no smoking weed, no bullshit. And if for any reason you do get in trouble, you better be the first one to call me.” He handed me his card.
“O.K. Sir, school and home. I won’t mess around—I promise.”
Two days later I was finishing up my final Flash project in Mr. Lemon’s computer class. Our assignment was to create a short animated movie with two interacting characters. I sat next to a trench coat Satanist kid named Palmer. Palmer’s artistic skills were as good as a graphic designers. I on the other hand, was not so artistically gifted, which is why I decided to use good ol’ fashion stick figures.
“Hey, Palmer, check mine out.” I pressed play and a spaghetti-thin figure with a top hat knocked on a door. A stick-girl in a pink dress opened it and he handed her a yellow flower. She smiled, dropped her dress on the floor, and revealed two smiling arches on her chest with pink dots. She proceeded to fall on her knees and a long stick penis grew from my top hat characters loins and entered her “O” shaped mouth. A few pelvic thrusts later, he pulled out and shot a bucket of white on her face. THE END rolled down the screen.
Palmer curled over laughing, “Holy shit man, that’s fuckin’ amazing. Steve, you got to see Pat’s Flash movie.” Steve came over and it wasn’t long before half the class was crowded around my computer laughing.
“Everybody sit down,” Mr. Lemon said, walking out of his office, “You want to show me what’s so funny Patrick?” He leaned over me, his hands on his hips.
“Umm, alright, but it’s not quite finished so don’t judge it too harshly.”
I pressed play, and he just stared at it, stone faced and unmoved all the way to the end. “Yea, well done, I hope all your laughs were worth the big F you’ll be getting on it.” He walked back to his office and slammed the door.
“An F? But yo, I followed the assignment dawg,” I yelled.
“Man, what a dick. I mean, it wasn’t that bad.” Palmer said.
Without thinking I walked outside and grabbed a handful of gravel. I came back in, popped open the admin computer’s CD-ROM in the back of the class, jammed the gravel into it, and smashed the door shut. The whole class watched in awe as I scooped up my backpack and left.
Later that day, our security guard picked me up in his cart and took me to the school police officer Mr. Knudsen. Apparently, when Mr. Lemon tried to use the admin computer, he found the CD ROM filled with dirt and rocks, and immediately replayed the cameras.
“So here’s the deal,” Knudsen said, “I talked to your probation officer today and he said if you slip up before your court date he’s sending you to Juvie, no questions asked. But, if you bring in a new CD-ROM tomorrow, we won’t press charges and I won’t tell your probation officer- Deal?”
“Aight deal, I’ll pick one up from Fry’s after school.” As I left his office, I realized I had just spent all my cash on new subwoofers for my car, and since I wasn’t about to ask my parents for the money, I was left with one option—to steal it.
A few weeks ago, my friend Eric and I stole a pair of Police detectors from Fry’s so I figured it wouldn’t be that hard to lift a CD-ROM. I called my friend Christian, a 6’7 Mexican beast and asked if he wanted to come along. “Yea, sure dog, I was actually needin’ a new Mp3 player anyways,” Christian said.
We entered the store and went to the Mp3 isle. Christian pulled the most expensive one off the shelf, slit it open and pocketed the device. Next we headed to the CD-ROM section. I picked one up, opened the box, loosened my belt and stuck it in my pants. And at the time, I wore size 36 jeans when I really only fit into 32’s, so I concealed it no problem.
When we walked through the check out I felt uneasy. One employee asked if we needed help finding anything and it seemed like all eyes were on us. I chalked the feeling up as paranoia. When we got outside I elbowed Christian and said, “Yo, we’re free dog.” But just as the words left my mouth a swarm of security guards rushed us from all angles. Two went straight to Christian, grabbed his arms and said, “Sir, can you put your hands behind your back, we have reason to believe you have stolen property on you.”
Christian swung their arms off like an angry King Kong and yelled, “Ay, don’t fucking touch me.” The guards jumped back. Then two lanky guys trotted toward me. I stopped and imagined Officer Vincette’s running a blazing finger across his throat and saying, “They’re going to eat you alive in Juvie.” Fear ignited in my veins and like a cornered animal I let out a yell and sunk my elbows into the two men. They fell back on the concrete, and I bolted toward the parking lot. I was almost free when a stalky-guard with a goatee leapt in front of me. I barreled my shoulder into his chest and yelled, “FUCKKK YOUUU!” We tumbled to the ground and the CD-ROM slid down my pants. Two security guards jumped on my back, and the stalky guy put his knee on my head, pressed my face into the asphalt and whispered, “No my friend, fuck you.” He cuffed me and as he led me towards the store, four guards surrounded Christian. We caught eyes and the defeated ape hung his head, and put his hands behind his back. The men cuffed the mighty Kong and hauled us off to captivity.
When the real cops arrived, they searched Christian, gave him his paperwork, and sent him on his way since he was 18. When they searched my wallet they found Mr. Vincette’s card.
“So, you’re on probation?” A chubby black cop that looked like Carl Winslow from Family Matters said.
“Well, not exactly, I haven’t been to court yet. But, I do need to call him before you speak with him. He’ll be super pissed if you guys talk to him first.”
“Don’t worry, you can call him when we get to the station,” Winslow said as he took me by the arm and led me out the door.
Back at the station, I left several messages for Mr. Vincette, and the police called him as well, but he didn’t answer. They called my mom and she picked me up. And in hindsight, that drive home was probably far worse than anything I’d of had to deal with in jail.
Later that night, I got a call from Mr. Vincette. “You know, I guess when you’re as stupid as you are, it’s good to be lucky.”
“Uh, how am I lucky?”
“You’re lucky because if I wasn’t in a meeting when you called, and you didn’t get released back into the custody of your parents, your ass would be in Juvie til’ your court date. And what were you thinking stealing from Fry’s? If there’s two places you don’t steal from it’s Fry’s and Wal-Mart. It’s impossible.” I wanted to chime in Well, I wouldn’t say ‘impossible,’ after all, I did just jack two police detectors from there. But luckily, my better judgment kept my mouth shut.
“Anyways,” he continued, “I’m over making threats. It’s your life and if you want to fuck it up, be my guest. But I’m telling you right now, if you make my job harder, I’ll make your life hell.”
The next morning, I borrowed money from my friend Eric and went to Best Buy to get a CD-ROM, since Fry’s had banned me for life.
When I got to school, I went to Mr. Knudsen’s office and knocked on his door. He came out with a big smile and was looking down at a Fry’s ad in the Newspaper.
“Wow, did you see the specials Fry’s has on CD-ROMS? They’re a real steal of deal right now.” He started cracking up at his own joke and shook his head.
“Yeah, yeah, real funny. So you talked wit’ Vincette, huh?”
“We had a little chat.” Knudsen said.
“Great. Well uh, here’s your CD-ROM.” I handed him the box.
“Oh, good. Umm, you don’t happen to have the receipt for this do ya? Just want to make sure, the school isn’t accepting stolen property–You understand.”
I didn’t get in any more trouble before my court date and my public defender helped me get a plea bargain so they dropped all charges accept the brass knuckles. Since I had a job, a C average, and was a middle-class white boy, the judge let me off easy with a year of drug, alcohol, theft and anger management classes. And instead of Juvie, I just had to wear a black ankle bracelet for three months of house arrest.
These days, Old Pat feels more like a character from a comic book or a black and white cartoon–an actor in some ethereal play of my past. And whenever I’m at my favorite coffee shop, sipping my Chai-tea latte and reading the latest issue of Writers and Poets, I can’t help but occasionally look over my shoulder and imagine Old Pat busting through the door, slapping the tea out my hand, throwing my magazine on the floor and giving me a good hard ass kicking for the man that I’ve become.