“YOU PICKED ORANGE” by SSK
“The Reason I Can't Hate Arnold Schwarzenegger”
And SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SKIP DOWN TO CHAPTER 36
WATCH OUT FOR INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS INFORMATION
COMING YOUR WAY, SO BE CAUTIOUS LEST YE
GET ALL INFORMED AND STUFF!!
(Yes, this was supposed to be published Tuesday morning, but c'mon, I'm an idiot!)
Before K was booted from the Asylum, I still had to go places: the market, pet supplies, gas for the car, pay bills in a womehwhat timely fashion. BUT, if I could cram all the driving I had to do into one, weekly trip (aside from the daily trip to Hellcare) I did.
Because very soon after K's Stroke, my California license expired. I hadn't even realized it, until the boy was sprung from the Asylum.
Now, we had physical therapy, and occupational therapy and doctor's appointments to keep us incredibly busy, and visible. The fact that I had been driving on an outdated California license, without proper tags on the car, insurance on the car? We got away with that for a surprisingly long time.
Until, five days before Christmas, on my husband's birthday, our little car with outdated tags caught the attention of an Indiana State Trooper.
In the parking lot of a department store. Which was crammed with holiday shoppers.
Why, you are perfectly right to ask, did you not just show the lovely folk here at the Bureau of Licensing Stuff in Indiana your certified birth certificate, proving A) you are human and B) legally able to get an Indiana driver's license?
Because, two years earlier, in preparation for the expiration of my California license, I had sent the Vital Records people back in Cali $34.00 for two certified copies of my birth certificate, and those funny funny tricksters at California Vital Records sent me a letter in return, whch said I had never been born.
That's a tough thing to read, especially for an adoptee.
This posed a fairly huge a problem. When my Cali driver's license expired, it could no longer be used as ID here , or to drive in Indiana. It also meant that a Notary Public would not certify that I was me, so that I could get my birth certificate from California, so that I could get an Indiana license, and tags, and insurance, and if I couldn't get my birth certificate, which was ridiculous as I had an expired Cali license, and the Vital Records were telling me that I was never born, but they were happy as little Monterey Bay Clams to cash my check and then tell me I didn't exist.
Somewhere, I heard Escher laughing his fucking ass off.
I had no idea why the Cali VR people couldn't find my birth certificate. I had a passport, from when my folks sent me on the traditional After High School Jewish Europe/Israel experience. Buuut... that passport was long expired. And it could have been used as ID, said the Notary Public, but, oooh, look here, it expired about ninety two years ago.
So: I had no California license. I had no Indiana license. I had no insurance, I had no tags because I didn't have a valid license, I had no ID to prove to the Notary that I could request my birth certificate... when I suddenly realized that MY HUSBAND could ask for it: He didn't have a driver's license here (that right foot is still locked in place by the stroke) but he DID have an official Indiana ID card, and that was enough to go to the Notary and have her fill out the request. We sent another $34.00 to the Vital Records people, and until we got the birth certificates, I'd just drive surreptitiously.
(Sorta felt like a girl in a pretty dress at the prom, who, having used the restroom, realized that she'd tucked her pretty dress into her underwear by accident and was trying to walk backwards in every single direction so no one would notice.
Harder to do if it's a car.)
2 weeks later, we got the info from Vital Records in California.
They said I had never been born.
And you think YOU got trouble???
So, I sat and thought. I potted my plants and watered my garden and I tried not to attract the attention of any official looking cop-like entities when we had to go out to the store, the doctor, to therapy and so forth.
And then, it hit me, right square in the eyeballs: the Governor of the State of California owed me a favor.
Here's my story, and I'll explain the logic in a moment: Once again, long ago, in the Mid-Triassic I think, my bestest friend worked in a clothing store. One day a young man came in, and asked to try on some jeans. She sized him up, and, being gay, she didn't give a damn that he was built like Hercules (but damn, she told me later, he really was built). She got together a nice array of jeans in his size.
He burst the seams on the legs of every single pair of pants he put on.
And he couldn't have been more apologetic. He paid for every single pair of jeans he ruined, and my friend suggested he might have to have a tailor make up his pants from now on.
She told me this story about two days after it happened, while I was at her house, watching TV and eating popcorn. Suddenly, she pointed at the TV and said, “That's him! That's the guy who wrecked all those pants!”
It was Arnold Schwartzenegger.
And when I needed, desperately, for someone, ANYone, to help me with this birth certificate problem, I figured, “I need this womanizing, female-hating, poopy-headed Republican to help me” so I write him a letter.
But, I needed to get the attention of the staff who handled all of the correspondence to the governor, of which, I'm guessing, 99% went directly, upon opening, into the chipper/shredder, a place I didn't want my letter tossed.
Then, the evil side of my mind “snapped” on, and I had it: the first line of that letter to the Governor of California was, “You may not remember this, but you owe me a favor.” I then told the story of the pants, and ended the letter, in a remarably executed quadruple axle of logic, by saying that because he burst all those seams on all those pants all that long time ago, HE owed ME a favor.
And I mailed it. Three days later, I got a phone call, from California. It was a lovely woman who said, “We're all still cracking up about that letter, and yes, we will find your certificate, and thanks for the chuckles.” Before she could hang up, I had another one of those brain “snaps”: perhaps, because I was adopted, Vital Records might not have been looking for my BC in the right year. The nice lady wrote down this information, and, still laughing, said, “Stay out of trouble, and I am sending you a letter from the governor about this matter. Hang in there.”
We got the letter THE NEXT day. The letter, while not hand written, WAS hand signed by my good pal, Arnold, and essentially said, “We have found your birth certificate, and it WAS in the year your adoption was confirmed by the court, NOT the year you were born, and you should be getting the certificates within the next 5 days. If you don't please call my office and we'll get right on it. I am always glad to help Californians, no matter what state you live in now. Kindest regards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of the State of California.”
All official and presentable and the envelope even looked impressive. I put the letter in the glove box of my car, and prayed.
The next day, the NEXT DAY, we got pulled over in that parking lot, 5 days before Christmas, by a County Mounty. And his Doggy.
I didn't even see the lights nor hear the siren until I was turning the car into a handicapped spot, right in front of the store. I put the car in park, and finally saw the lights flashing, and said, “Oh, holy fucking shit.” My husband didn't care. He was struggling to get out of the car because he had to pee; but, if the passenger gets out of the car in California, after a cop stop? They shoot you dead. I asked K not to move. He agreed, turning yellow.
I stayed right where I was. I had my hands up. I heard, through his car microphone (December, cold, very cold. He didn't want to be cold, either), “Get out of the car and walk slowly back to me.”
I did as he asked. I turned around to face him, and said, “My husband is a recovering Stroke patient, can he get out and use the bathroom inside?” The cop, who could not have been older than 28, looked over at K: he took in his cane, and the look of severe pain on his face, which was now an odd marmalade colour, and, deciding K posed no threat, said, for ALL THE WORLD TO HEAR, “Yes, sir, you may get out of the car and use the restroom.”
Okey dokey. Off Kimit went, limping and trying not to slip on ice, and apologizing to me the whole way.
Now, it was my turn to explain the situation. I was only a few feet from the officer, sitting in his nice, warm car with his whoofing doggie in the back seat, and said.... “Hi.”
He was not well pleased by the “Hi.” He took off his sunglasses, and said, not into the microphone, “Would you be so kind as to tell me why it is you have no up-to-date tags on your car?”
Wow, did he ever take his finger out of the dike. I tried to explain: the California license expiring, Kimit's stroke right before the license expired, the stroke, my not being able to convince Vital Records in California that I was really me (them saying I was never born but cashing my checks anyway), and I couldn't do that without a valid ID which would be a driver's license which I couldn't get because my California license was expired, and the Notary couldn't issue a letter saying that I was me because of aforementioned lack of a valid DL and I was so sorry and then K tried to get my Birth Certificate but all they told him was that I was never born, too, so there went another 17 bucks.
I also said, “I don't even have insurance or registration. Ha ha?”
Nope. No ha ha. He was just sitting there. Blank faced. Processing the information? I don't think that was possible, completely truthful though it might be. He did notice, however, that I had tears running down my face because, come on, it'd been a very rough few years. He said I could go wait in my car, because it was cold but I told him I was fine, and then: brain snap.
I told him that, because I'd had such trouble getting my birth certificate from California, that I'd written to Schwarzenegger, because he OWED ME A FAVOR and asked him to look into it, as I was totally flummoxed by Vital Records.
The cop looked at me. “You know Arnold Schwarzenegger?” Well, n... I started to say No, but then I recalled that I had the LETTER IN THE GLOVE BOX. I sniffed and told the cop, “Yes, yes, I do, I have the letter in my car from him saying he's helping me get my birth certificate.”
The cop cocked his head, in one of those, “Oh, really?” postures. I told him, “No, it's true, I swear, I'll get it. It's in the car.” He looked at me, this time putting his shades back on. “Okay, just be careful on the ice.”
I gently skated back to the drivers door, got in, opened the glove box, and for one or two heart stopping seconds, thought that the letter wasn't there, I'd left it at home, or it had gotten lost, or maybe this was all a dream... And there it was. Hiding under the original owners manual. I pulled it out, and went back to the cop, and handed him the letter.
He looked at it. He read my name on the front, and then the inscription on the top left of the envelope: “From the Governor of the State of California” and the address. The cop took his glasses off. He put them on the passenger seat. He looked up at me.
“This is real?” he asked, utterly stunned. (Who wouldn't be?)
I nodded, breathing on my cold hands, and said, “Of course, open it, the letter's in there.” The cop did just that, opening the envelope and pulling out the letter from my dear friend Arnie, acknowledging the problems I had been having getting my BC, and pretty much validating every single thing I had just blurted out to the officer.
He looked at me again. “This is from Governor Schwartzenegger,” he said.
“Yep,” I replied. The cop shifted in his seat, and read the envelope, and the letter again. He looked at the bottom. There was no “auto-signature” signature on it: it was the real deal.
And, once more, it confirmed all I'd said, and the trouble I was having, what with California telling me I had never been born. (Downright insulting, not to put too fine a point on it.)
And the cop put the letter back in the envelope, and said, “Here's what we're going to do.”
My fear lessened. I listened. He went on, “You are not to drive that car, only someone with a valid license is going to drive that car, or you can have it towed. I will not call this in. Do you promise me that you will not drive this car until you have a valid Indiana license, get it registered and insured?”
I nodded so hard my ears rang. (Oh, that was the frost falling off my earlobes.) If he wanted me to get a juggling seal for his kid's birthday, I'd have found a way to do it. I held out my hand, toward the officer, and said, “I will not drive that car, I will have it towed back to my house, pinkie swears.”
He did not pinkie swears, but he did let me go.
And, as he handed me the Governor's letter, he said one more thing: “You might be the first person I have ever met on this job who told me such a giant blob of horse hockey that turned out to be completely true.”
I smiled a little frozen smile, pumped my fists up around my face, said, “Go, Arnie!” He waved as he drove off. I put the letter back into the glove box, got out, closed and locked the doors, and then noticed the incredibly long line of people who had been backed up by the officer's car.
As he drove off, leaving me un-arrested, all the driver's were staring at me, with their mouths slightly agape. Made me feel a little... cocky.
Which ended, of course, when “feeling cocky” made me slip on the ice; I grabbed my car just in time to keep me from falling on my assky.
Still felt a little cocky, though.
And the moral of this story?
Even if you're a far left winger, an ill-informed, womanzing, drug taking guy can rise to power, and you can exploit that power if you but try.
And by now, you know: I do not try. I do.
Until I slip on the ice.