It was around 1 AM, and here I was, standing in the front of three flashing cop cars, looking at a raccoon.
It was a pretty fat raccoon too. It was clearly used to people because it didn’t seem to care that there were two people silently staring at it climb over the fence, saunter through the red and blue flashing lights, and then (mockingly, I’m sure) walk off into the night without a care in the world.
It was Monday night, and we’d spent the evening at a few bars with friends. We had a brief detour at the Apple store; He wanted to buy the new 5S, and I told him this would be a fun memory — but, they were sold out. On our way back to the subway, we took the scenic route on a path right beside the sidewalk into Central Park. That’s when I saw it.
Here we were, in NEW YORK CITY, and there was a freaking raccoon right in front of me. I loved it. I took a picture of it. I oohed and aahed. I tweeted about it. I barely even noticed the police car slowly pull in behind me and put on his lights.
It’s hard to describe the instantaneous jolt of fear you get when you’re in the headlights of a cop car. I’d imagine it’s what a deer in the headlights feels like, but with Law & Order scenes flashing before your eyes. Swallowing any panic about orange jumpsuits, I approached the window to see a very stoic officer staring back at me. I smiled. He grimaced.
Suddenly, I realized I was alone. And suddenly, I remembered why. Boyfriend was looking for a bathroom. Boyfriend didn’t find a bathroom. Boyfriend went behind a tree. COP MAY SEE BOYFRIEND BREAKING THE LAW BEHIND SAID TREE. SAVE BOYFRIEND. DISTRACT COP. I smiled again and half-laughed at the officer.
His grimace deepened.
The deer in the headlights shock quickly upgraded to body-quaking panic. I was already shivering a bit from the cold, but now I was running on adrenaline. Thankfully, my theater background kicked in and I played dumb. Oh, is it late, officer? My goodness, is this park really closed? You love adorable raccoons too, right?
Before I knew it — boyfriend was back, grimacing cop had both of our ID’s, and we were asked to step in front of the car and wait for what seemed like forever. I don’t really remember how long it took, but I do remember that boyfriend was very kind and pointed out constellations like Orion’s belt and the gibbous moon, sweetly disarming future Kirsten panic attacks. I watched the raccoon slip into the night, free as a bird – or whatever raccoon cliche their species prefer. What was taking so long? Was boyfriend going to jail? Am I going to have to visit him and use one of those glass booth phones ANND TALK IN A SECRET CODE ANNND SLIP HIM KNIFES INSIDE OF CAKES ANNNND —
Out of nowhere, a second cop car pulled up. Then a third. No one got out, and the lights were too bright to see inside the cars. Looking back, I remember quickly thinking about all the shoot-out TV scenes I’d seen where the brave police hide behind their doors and yell at the fearless suspects through a gritty megaphone to “put their hands up!” or “release the hostages!!” or “put down the sausage links!” (which totally is a real line from a show, guys. If you know it, color me impressed). I know I’m no Walter White, but for a moment there, I sympathized.
Apparently Central Park police officers employ stealth technology because I swear nobody got out of those cop cars, but eventually a very nice different, younger officer walked up to us with two summons for a court date and $25 fine for being in a closed park. I think he made some joke about looking better than the other guy. We laughed. Obviously. Oh yes officer you are so so very funny and good looking and nice and good looking and funny and please don’t take us to jail.
At some point, he let us go. He said nothing about boyfriend peeing behind the tree and I was very curious how did they not see him and oh my gosh whatever just GET OUT OF HERE. We finally turned around and walked away, letting the flashing lights slowly fade into the shadows and breathing the air of sweet, sweet freedom once again. Life returned to normal, with the exception of a rectangular pink slip in both of our hands.
“Won’t this be such a great story?!” “This was right out of a sitcom!!”
“My parents are gonna laugh!” “My parents are going to kill me!”
Stay tuned for the entry about our hot, sexy court date in the New York Criminal Court.
Unless my parents kill me.