Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Watcha Gonna Do?

cops500.jpgIt was half past midnight, and I had just started to dream. About what, I don’t remember. I just know that moments before, I had passed through the that warm and hazy tunnel connecting reality to reverie. Shapes and voices were emerging and the jumbled nightly narrative had begun–instructing, soothing or tormenting–it was anybody’s guess what shape the storyline would take tonight. And then came the knock.

And then the creak of our bedroom door opening. “H. just got pulled over by the police. He’s in front of the house,” informed Number Three Son.

H. is a college student, a good friend and a youth ministry major. As I fought my way through the cobwebs and back to the land of the living, I seemed to recall that Number Two Son and his buddy G. had arrived home from a downtown concert a short time before. They are both good friends with H., so he must have stopped by to hang out. Maybe H. had been driving a little fast on his way to our house, I thought.

It was actually a little more complicated than that. Number Two and G. had arrived home, and Eyegal (who is the night owl in the family and is more adept at the late shift) had been satisfied that everyone was in for the night and had gone to bed. But unbeknownst to either of us, H. had stopped by and the three of them had driven a few blocks away to another friend’s house to pick up some electronic gizmo or thing-a-ma-jig. It was on their way back that they had run into the long arm of the law.

I stumbled toward the front door and peered outside. It was a scene straight out of Cops: Bubble lights illuminating the neighborhood in pulsating, strobe-like bursts, one of Huntsville’s finest, flashlight in hand, interrogating nervous and fidgeting young men whose faces appeared pale and deer-like against the piercing headlamps of a police cruiser. Then the words to the theme song began to play in my head; I just couldn’t stop them:

Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do?

Watcha gonna do when they come for you? Bad boys, bad boys…

As I strained to peer through the window, I suddenly realized that the “bad boy” with whom the officer seemed to be spending the most time was none other than Number Two Son himself. I knew immediately that a great test of my fatherhood was at hand.

I opened the front door, and began to make my way across the front lawn. I remember thinking about how one should approach such a scene and going over my mental checklist: Walk slowly in a nonthreatening manner, hands to the side, palms open, whatever you do, no sudden movements. I doubt that a balding, middle-aged man wearing only a t-shirt and pajama bottoms registered high on his threat meter, but I still approached the officer cautiously and cleared my throat a few times, making sure that he knew I was coming.

“He’s my son,” I called out, pointing at Number Two.

“Really?” the officer replied tersely. “Then your son is the one who shined that spotlight in my eyes.”

I turned toward Number Two, gave him my best furrowed brow and quizzical look, and asked, “Is that true?”

“Yes, but it was an accident,” replied Number Two. Then he launched into a longer and more convoluted explanation of how he had discovered the spotlight in the floorboard of H.’s SUV and had just wanted to see how powerful it was and had then turned it on, spotlighting a few houses, mailboxes, and as they had made the turn back onto a main street, apparently, and according to him, “accidently,” a police car traveling in the same direction. To make matters worse, H. had not been driving–16-year-old G. had. It was after midnight, and in Alabama, that was against the law as well.

The officer looked directly at me and spoke again. “I was driving along and saw him playing with the light, and when they turned, your son shined the light directly in my eyes.”

I put my hands on my hips and glared again at Number Two and shot him my patented “Nice work, Einstein” look. I’m figuring that he probably was playing with the light, that he probably did shine it in the officer’s eyes and that it had most likely been an accident, but that didn’t matter much at the moment. The officer suspected he had done so intentionally, and he was clearly in charge and running the show. All I could do was make it clear that I agreed with him that this was a serious problem and not argue with him over details.

He was holding all three driver’s licenses in his hand and talking to his dispatcher. To hear your son’s name called out over a police radio is a little surreal–and very disconcerting, especially somewhere around 1:00 AM. And then I remembered the neighbors. Were they up, witnessing this rare and high drama playing out on our quiet cul-de-sac?

You betcha they were. I glanced around at several houses and saw lights on and several pairs of beady eyes peering from between blinds and the corners of window, just waiting for the cuffs to come out or for someone to make a break for it.

At this point I was hoping that if I could show the officer that I was a responsible Dad–one capable of “handling the situation”–that he would let them go with a warning. My strategy was to continue to glare silently and scowl at the three of them and to only speak and plead for mercy if it appeared he was about to open up his ticket book and start the string of citations.

It must have worked. A moment later, the officer sighed and intoned, “Look guys, that was pretty stupid (I nod vigorously in agreement). It’s illegal and dangerous to other drivers to use a spotlight in a moving vehicle. I’m going to let you off with a warning this time, but don’t ever do that again.”

“Yes sir,” the three of them replied in unison.

“Thank you officer,” I gratefully added.

Once inside the house, you can imagine what next came next. I exercised my parental prerogative to peel a little plaster and explained to Number Two in easy-to-understand language that he had transgressed in several significant and potentially life-altering ways: Reckless behavior, in a moving car, driven by a 16-year-old, after midnight.

Number Two avoided a ticket and the lock-up that night, but he is currently under house arrest and is wearing a choke collar and a very short leash. The family dog currently has more freedom to move than he does.

But with the passage of time comes perspective, and looking back it’s easy to see that things could have been much worse and to be grateful that they weren’t. It’s even possible to laugh a little at such an outrageous example of group brainlock. Of course, I didn’t get much sleep that night, and I don’t think I dreamed at all after that. But with a storyline like that, who needs dreams anyway?

  1. Brady

    Wish I’d been there, staring out of a neighbor’s window, wondering where in the heck the neighborhood was going to…

    You’ve got one kid in a cast, the other grounded, and another with a concussion? I’m surprised the cop didn’t lock you up, but glad he didn’t.

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Actually the one with the “concussion” is Number Two. Maybe that explains the bizarre behavior. Of course, he has had brainlock in the past, even without bumps on his head.

    Number One got into a little spot of trouble this past summer, but he was more than glad to watch from the sideline this time, smiling the entire time.

  3. Jon

    I am just glad this blogging wasn’t around when I was 16. My dad would have had is blog counter tap out with in a matter of weeks.

    This is hilarious that kids mischief can be posted for all to read.

    By they way, Wineskins is looking for a book reviewer. Might stop by for more info.

  4. lAURIE

    Parenting. It’s not for wimps.

  5. JRB

    On a school night!

  6. Mike the Eyeguy

    Nay, nay, it was early Saturday AM.

    Did you think that just happened? Obviously, I’ve had time to decompress. There’s no way that I could have written about that so evenhandedly only a few hours after it happened.

  7. Ed

    One high-powered spotlight: $28

    Shining high-powered spotlight into policeman’s eyes: No Charge

    Having subsequent events posted on the internet by your dad for all to read: Priceless

  8. Mark Elrod

    Smart-aleck 16-year old ME would have said, “No problem… my dad’s an eye doctor. I think he’s still up…”

    I think most cops are looking for reason to not mess the life of a 16-year old up any more than they have to. I had a similar reaction when my 16-year old was in his first accident a year ago.

  9. Hal

    Nice piece of parenting there. I’ll bet #2 will never forget his first encounter with the LAW. Good work on the policeman’s part there too. I’m sure that he recognized that the boys were just goofing around and meant no harm. He knew that a warning from him would be mild compared to the short leash you had in mind.

    I would also have to concur with Jon, above. I am really glad that my Dad didn’t have a blog.

  10. tom

    Ed’s Visa ad parody: also priceless. All’s well that ends well, and I’m glad no. 2 has no rap sheet, no. 3 showed good judgement in bringing this to your attention in a timely fashion (you’d have heard from the neighbors the following day), and that no. 1 had a good chuckle at his younger brother’s antics. I feel, however, it is my avuncular duty to remind the boys once again: be polite to police officers, but remember you have a right to remain silent! And as always, thank you for not embarrassing the family too much : )
    If no one has lost tv privileges, we can all watch CU fall to a well-deserved 0-5 this coming weekend against the surprising (don’t jinx them) #25 ranked 4-0 Missouri Tigers .
    Go Air Force!
    When’s Powder Puff??

  11. Mike the Eyeguy

    I think Number Two was a little surprised, and maybe a little pleased, that I wrote this. I’m not 100% sure, but I think his stock will rise a bit among his peers as the word spreads (You did what? Cool…).

    Good thing, because it sure hasn’t helped his standing around here.

    Yeah, the officer showed some good sense and made all the right moves. Those guys generally do a pretty good job, and I have a greater appreciation for them after this.

    Tom–I don’t know if I want you giving them any advice on dealing with the Law. 😉 Yeah, I’m sure silence would have really helped that situation!

    Powder Puff is next week, and yes, there will be posts and pictures of the “cheerleaders.” I’m wondering if Grissom’s Powder Puff team could take the Buffs.

  12. Kate

    I’m glad I was neither son nor parent.

    Because from here it is very, very funny.

  13. Mike the Eyeguy


    Glad to hear the humor is shining through. You’re not the first to catch a few jollies at my expense!

  14. lAURA

    Wow, I am so out of touch with everything and everyone. I just got caught up on your blogs which I enjoy and am sorry about number 3 son’s injury. I know how it feels to see your child in agony, it makes your insides hurt. Glad he is doing better but sorry about out for 3 months. Our oldest dosn’t understand about not playing powder puff since she feels fine. They are letting her be one of the assistant coaches. She would rather play but Coach Barnett is so sweet about it. Also, she is disappointed to not get to go white water rafting on retreat. We called her doctor and he said nothing over cat. 2 and these are 2 through 4. She wasn’t happy. Can’t wait to see the cheerleaders next week. I know you will be proud. So proud of our Sr. guys this year they are stepping up to the plate as leaders. Also, agree with everyone about glad our parents couldn’t post. This is funny considering I know what good kids all of them are. Just glad nothing happened. Why arn’t they out there catching drunk drivers. Oh well, I know they do good. I enjoyed getting caught up.

  15. Mike the Eyeguy


    Hey, thanks for stopping by. Sorry J. can’t do everything she wants yet, but it’s good to see the progress she’s made.

    Yes, they are good kids. Sometimes I just have to keep repeating that, over, and over, and over, and…

  16. Mike the Eyeguy

    It turns out that G., the young driver, has read this and begs to differ. He feels that I have exaggerated my role in mediating the situation.

    G., if you’re reading this, I invite you to consider the following:

    Imagine that you had been pulled over on Bailey Cove, rather than in front of my house. Do you think that without me (or your Mom, Dad, or some other concerned adult standing there) that you would have gotten off with a warning? If so, just how sure are you? If you had gotten a ticket, do you think your parents would still be allowing you to drive? Indeed, would you even have your driver’s license in your pocket at this moment?

    Perhaps, if that ever happens again, you would prefer to go it alone? Perhaps next time, or even this time if you happen to think about it, a simple “thank you” would suffice.

  17. Donna

    I’m with Kate….from here it is very funny! But then again, I have been where you are and I assure you I was NOT laughing.

  18. Mike the Eyeguy


    Was bail involved?

    I’ve not done the bail thing yet, but at the rate we’re going, I’m figuring it’s only a matter of time.

  19. H.

    Dr. Mike, thank you.

  20. Mike the Eyeguy


    You’re welcome, no sweat. Ok, maybe a little sweat.

    I appreciate that, and even more so, your friendship.

  21. lAURIE

    H., I don’t know you, but that was a class thing to do. And Dr. Mike, that was a class response. Too bad all issues can’t play out like this in the rest of the world.

  22. Bill Gnade


    I must confess that the image of you walking across the lawn in a pair of pajama bottoms and singing “Bad Boys” softly to yourself, is not an image that will soon leave me. Furthermore, it seems the officer might have been justified in handing YOU a citation: a REAL guy does not know the lyrics to “Bad Boys”, and he does not hum such a song as he skips across the lawn to the beat of flashing police lights.

    Now, had you been singing something like “The Boys Are Back In Town” or the heart-string tugging “Indiana Wants Me” (remember that one?), then perhaps your excursion in your jammies could be overlooked. Pajamas, Mike? Not “Winnie the Pooh” jammies, by any chance? How about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Power Rangers? Johnny Quest or Rat Patrol? Ahh, perhaps Speed Racer.

    I am telling you that I would have slept with a smile on my face knowing that my Number 2 son was following in my footsteps, albeit a bit crudely. You know, darkness, bright lights probing into various pupils. The thought of using 2,000,000 candle power to examine a cop’s retinas at speed is simply delightful. Perhaps your son could have quipped, “Listen, officer, with all due respect, your the only one of us who has red eyes. I know, because the reflection I got back was just amaz–.”

    Well, perhaps he can say that sort of thing later — when he’s moved out of the house.



  23. Mike the Eyeguy

    They were flannel and a very manly plaid (think Braveheart); much more decent than what I went to bed wearing (I’ll spare you the details).

    Bill, you made me smile (as usual).

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