PART III: THE DARK YEARS

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First Arrest

 

I was only twenty years old still at the time.  Even though I was underage, I wasn’t restricted much at the bars.  Someone else would have to buy my drinks most of the time.  Being twenty years old and wasted in public weekly was risky business.  I finally got caught drinking underage.

It’s really all a blur to me actually.  I can see myself in bits and pieces.  I was arguing with a giant-sized bouncer and he yanked me up and dragged me outside.  I must have been tossed out for being a drunk asshole.  I doubt I was even completing sentences.  While this is going down, a cop pulled right in front of the bar.  Just great.

The cop saw how drunk I was and checked my ID.  Busted.  I’m pretty sure I was only getting a ticket, but was refusing to sign.  I tried to read the paper and he snagged it out of my hand.  I was cuffed and put in the back of the police car.

My emotions immediately changed.  I said I was sorry.  The cop was obviously annoyed because he was nothing but a dick back.  “Shut up back there!  You should have thought about that before!”  It was too late.  I was actually going to jail.  All I could do was watch streetlights pass one by one.  We pulled into a large garage the size of a fire station garage.

The garage door closed behind us after we pulled in and parked.  I had to be helped out of the car because my hands were still in cuffs.  They walked me up to a metal door, and I heard a loud buzz come from above my head.  It slammed shut behind like they expected me to try and run.  Each door opened after the same electrifying buzz.

It wasn’t like the movies.  I expected metal bars and giant key rings on hips of officers.  It was more of a main hub for a room.  The room was circular with holding cells all along the walls.  The walls were a dirty white, the doors were the same color, and some of the cells had small clear windows.  The smell was unique like the way a hospital smells.

Anxiety started to over power how drunk I was, which was not good.  Standing there holding a number and getting my picture taken from all angles felt the most cliché of everything.  Getting my fingerprints recorded felt the least cliché.  They were very thorough.  I mean they even recorded the side of my hand.  You have to push down hard too, or you’ll get bitched at in the process.  My hands were stained with black ink, even after I washed them.  They looked like I’d been working on a car engine all day.

After getting ordered around like a dog, they sat me down and started asking all sorts of questions.  “What is your address?” “Do you have any tattoos?” “Have you ever been incarcerated before?” Incarcerated?  I went from a college student at a bar to fucking incarcerated?  My chest went from a shake, to a full on quiver.  Being drunk, frightened, young, drunk, surprised, worried, and drunk gave little hope for any type of stable emotions.

Once I was stirred up and weeping in my hopeless chair, they hit me with the personality/ emotion questions.  “Are you happy with your life?” “Would you ever harm yourself?”  And so on.  I suppose somewhere in the middle, I seemed too depressed.  Fair fight I know.

They made me change into nothing but this padded apron thing.  It looked like a long bulletproof vest.  Apparently it was some material that couldn’t be torn and made into a noose for suicidal inmates.  I’ve never felt so belittled.

I slept on a cold steel bench with nothing but my anti-suicide dress.  I used a roll of paper towels as a pillow.  I hardly slept.  If it weren’t for the booze, I probably wouldn’t have even closed my eyes.  I was wide-awake early.  I watched out of the glass window from my bench.  I assume this is what puppies feel like at the pet store.  People walking by, and not acknowledging your sad puppy eyes.  They brought me in breakfast on a plastic tray with slop slapped on top.  I didn’t eat.

The worst part was waiting there with no one ever informing me what was going on.  I was trapped.  It’s no wonder people freak out.  I wanted to rip the metal mirror screwed into the wall and chip away at the white cement like the room was on fire.

I waited hours for an officer to tell me anything.  They let me change into the orange pants and shirt.  They walked me into a room of stools lined up in front of glass windows.  I had to take baby steps as they sat me down because my ankles were chained too.  The officer locked the chain into a metal loop on the ground under my stool.  I thought over and over, “This is fucking ridiculous.”

They made me wait for some person to question me about depression.  Well this was going to be simple.  Every single answer was happy, happy, and I was drunk.  Why the hell would I answer any different?  So they can put me in that damn bullet proof dress again and keep me here longer?  The talk lasted a whole two minutes and determined I was ok and not depressed.  Boom, nailed it.

They let me change back into my normal civilian clothes about an hour later.  They gave me a bag with my belongings like, phone and wallet.  All my cash was gone, awesome.  Buzzer after buzzer, I made it to the exit door.  The brightness was blinding at first because I had to adjust to the daylight.  I started walking to my dorm, which was about an hour walk.  The site of McDonald’s down the street made my stomach grumble.  I called a friend to come pick me up.  I started reading my citation in the car on the way back.  All of this for underage consumption.

I had court in a week.  I was a broke college kid, so I applied for a public defender.  They gave me a slap on the wrist and a second chance for this being my first time getting in trouble.  I had to complete some program, which included forty community service hours, meet with a case manager to talk about substance abuse, pay my fines, and I wasn’t allowed to get in trouble again for six months.  It was called the diversion program.  The judge told me if I didn’t complete these things, I would be sent to jail for up to thirty days.  It was my first time getting in trouble with the cops my whole life.  Six months of not getting in trouble should be cake.  Right?

 

First Arrest – Insight

 

If this were the only trouble I’d gotten myself into, then it probably wouldn’t be such a big deal to me.  I wish I had the personal knowledge and self-awareness to avoid getting in any more trouble with drinking.

Being underage still, I should have kept my cool at the bar.  You’d think laying low would be obvious.  The small town gave a feel of softer boundaries and rules.  Playing football, I should have put more focus on not getting in trouble with the team.  It was only division III, so that type of importance wasn’t stressed often.  I was bound for doom.  I drank a lot and fast.  I drank multiple places and didn’t stop or even slow down to recognize myself.  In other words, I blacked out.

 

Dorm tip #9:

Under the age, under the radar.

 

 

Sticks and Stones

 

I was never going to make it as a college football player.  I hustled to the max on everything I did, but never came up the best.  I’m athletic, but everyone was faster, or quicker, or way stronger, taller, bigger, you get the picture.  Seeing steroids in the shadows of the locker room was discouraging.  The more I didn’t succeed, the harder I tried.  My body started to take a toll.

I managed to pop my shoulders out of socket more than once.  I hyper extended my left knee.  I even fractured my ribs.  The pain was terrible but the memory is thrilling.  I scooped up a blocked field goal and ran half the football field down the sideline.  I was rocked out of bounds with a blow to my side.  What made the fracture worse, is I tried to stay in one more play.  I felt something like a twig snap inside my abdomen.  The doctor said the snap was probably the cartilage in my sternum.  I collapsed to the grass.  It was my first time getting pulled off a football field in a stretcher.  Heck it was the first time I’d been in a stretcher regardless.  The pain made it difficult for any movement.  I couldn’t breathe deep or fast for a few weeks.  I had to take baby steps like an old man without his walker.  I made it back to practice after a few weeks though.

I had a lingering pain in my lower back for the majority of the season.  At first, I worked with the athletic trainers every day.  The pain wouldn’t go away, so I received x-rays with a local doctor in Marietta first.  Those doctors found nothing wrong, and sent me to get MRI’s after my pain outlasted my treatments.  That doctor couldn’t find anything wrong either.  I was happy my back checked out with two doctors, so I kept up with football.  The pain in my back was one of many things hurting.  Coaches constantly preached, “Are you hurt, or are you injured?”  Something always hurts in football, so you just push through the pains and aches.  My back pains increased at times, but I still made it through the entire season.  It was tough, especially after the season ended.  The off-season training was even more exercising.  All three of my friends Louis, Vinny and Graham, quit the team.  You can imagine how the fun element of college football began to whither away.

 

 

Fight or Flight

 

It was getting close to the end of the school year.  In fact, it was the day before our football banquet.  My night was spent out at one of the only two bars…once again.  I can’t remember how the night started, but I know how it ended.

This event takes place on the dance floor.  I started dancing up on some girl, who seemed to be having fun too.  I noticed two guys mocking me back and forth out of the corner of my eye.  I felt like they didn’t like me dancing with a girl that had different skin color than I did.  I was drunk so I had no thought to reason.  I was quick to defend myself.  I mocked them back, technically making fun of myself, laughing back ignorantly.

To my surprise, a kind friend of these lovely young gentlemen came from the side and punched me in a matter of seconds.  He squeezed two hits in – a punch to the eye, and then he grabbed my head and kneed me in my face.  My nose turned into a bloody fountain.  I grabbed my face and scooted right to the bathroom.  I never had the slightest thought of wanting to fight back. I was all talk apparently.  It was like a page out of a science book in regards to flight or fight.  My brain was 100% in flight mode.  Someone on the team saw me and sent guys to check on me in the bathroom, and take me home safely.

The football banquet the next day was at lunchtime.  There I was, with two dull black eyes from getting popped in the face, not once, but twice.  You have to give it to the guy.  He had some nice moves.  Not too shabby jerk, not too shabby indeed.

Since I played defense on the team, our defensive coordinator handed me my award for participation and gave me a disappointing look.  He knew what dull black eyes the morning after a weekend night meant.  It meant I was punched in the damn face.  Defensive coaches love that stuff though.  If I were a 6’5” stack of meat, he would quietly appreciate the aggression.  Instead you had me, about a foot shorter.  The only thing written on my face was a bullseye target.

 

Fight or Flight – Insight

 

I shouldn’t have mocked those guys.  They were obviously upset with me dancing with their friend.  They attempted to degrade me so I returned the gesture.  I am partially glad I was afraid and not motivated to fight back.  I never saw them again.  If I would have fought back, what would have winning done for me?  What if I lost?  This is the reason fighting is not the right decision when drunk. I’m not sure what is more embarrassing, losing small or losing big.

I am thankful I had my friends to get me out of there safely.  I had one teammate in particular with a clear understanding.  He saw the situation, followed me into the bathroom, directed friends about what happened and to help me home.  I’m glad they weren’t motivated to go out looking for trouble.  It was only a few punches, and they weren’t worth it.  Maybe one sober friend with strong leadership abilities is a key to smart drinking.  But it still didn’t change the fact I was hit in the fucking face…twice.

 

Dorm tip #10:

Watch a Bruce Lee movie or two.

 

 

Summer of Bad News

 

After the school year ended, I came back home for the summer.  I was hitting the gym and working on my speed every day while living at my Dad’s for summer break.  One thing that kept holding me back was the pain in my lower back.  My dad had me take my x-rays and MRI’s to a doctor in Akron.

A nurse and a doctor did an initial observation and hung my MRI’s up…..

-PURCHASE TO CONTINUE READING-

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