Eddie V and the Cop Cruisers

Illustration by Rick Quemado

Illustration by Rick Quemado

I am a desert native, and the heat, as you know it, doesn’t bother me. I love the sun and, yes, it does matter that it’s a dry heat. At about 50 degrees, I privately start to whine; at 40, I openly bitch. I didn’t even drive an air-conditioned car until I was 27; until then, I scooted around in a series of 1960s VW Bugs, handily equipped with wind wings (Google it) so I could effectively direct incoming air flow. Nothing cools like hot!

Clumsily, that leads to the heat that has actually made me sweat: The Heat. I’ve been pulled over more times than I typically admit. Mostly many years ago. Certainly well outside the statute of limitations. And definitely far enough in the past to not affect my insurance rates. On this, I want to be crystal clear.

It’s mostly been for (ahem) “excessive speed,” mostly on deserted highways in the middle of nowhere (though not far enough from a Highway Patrol outpost), and occasionally near UNLV, where I was almost always tardy for my first class (apologies, Dr. Simich). I was such a serial violator back then that in one calendar year, I went to traffic school in every local jurisdiction—Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Clark County. I’m not particularly proud of that.

I have also been “lit up” four times under what I consider to be unusual circumstances. All but one was during what I romantically refer to as my Eddie Vedder Era: torn and worn jeans, beard, hair down to the middle of my back. Once—not kidding—it was for driving the speed limit on Sahara Avenue, instead of slowing down when I saw a police cruiser. (That, apparently, is what most drivers do.) Another time, it seemed to be for driving an old Mercedes with a bike rack on top. Another, I was driving a lowered Bug with a sporty exhaust and a cracked windshield. I also once slowly passed a stopped car—on the right—and the tires of my VW Thing (again, Google it) barely crunched the gravel beyond the pavement. Of these instances, that was the only time I was cited (“leaving the roadway while driving”), but each time I was presented with the same question: “Have you ever been arrested?” No, I would say. “Never?” Sigh.

While I can’t say for certain that it mattered, I decided to cut my hair. And I like to think I’ve grown up. I’ve accepted that passing the “attitude test” is an important part of interacting with police officers, because they deal with so much crap every day that they use it as a way to gauge what kind of person you are. That doesn’t mean I don’t get pulled over now and again. But The Heat and I now coexist to the point where I thanked the last officer who pulled me over. I was polite; he was polite. I didn’t cop an attitude, and he didn’t have an attitude like a cop. I guess, with apologies to Eddie V, I’ll keep my hair short. The Heat may be on, but I don’t need it on me.

Back to the Dog Days.

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