Tuesday, May 19, 2009

cheshire cat
by: ramos

My friends and I gathered together at my old apartment in Beverly off Rantoul to celebrate the significant moment of my graduation from Gordon-Conwell. I had just walked across the platform and smiled for the camera with my degree in hand, and said all my departing goodbyes and farewells to all teachers and friends who were close to my heart. After the ceremony my friends and I had two things intensely occupying our mind: beer and food. I worked very hard to get to this moment of closure, so it was crucial that we finish with a toast and celebration.

We broke our group into two tasks teams: Jeff (my friend who came from Dallas to visit) and I were to get the Spirits, and Marcos and Brittney were to get the Food. There are two local liquor joints on Rantoul that are a few blocks apart from my apartment. There is the one owned by Indians, who have the best hours and are super friendly towards me, believing that I too am Indian, and they call me ‘bro’. I went to them for the longest, but I began noticing that their beer tastes bitter and metallic. I can’t explain it, other than perhaps they store it improperly. So I vowed to never again buy beer from them again. I then started going to Chrispy’s liquor next to the Pickled Onion. The store, which has a bit of a dirty, grimy dive feel, has a large neon sign that says “Liquor” that hangs above the sidewalk of Rantoul, and has strange people buzzing around underneath the large sign who smoke cigarettes and seemingly have nothing else to do all day but stare across the street. Chrispy’s has better prices than the Indian store, and I never bought a sour tasting beer from them. But they are super stringent about I.D. rules, so I developed the habit of always throwing my I.D. at them first thing every time I made a purchase, even though they recognized me personally by this point.

Jeff and I brought a Patron Silver Tequila and a twelve pack Ipswich Ale to the counter, and out of habit I immediately threw my I.D. at the lady. She briefly glanced at it from afar, and continued ringing, failing to ask to Jeff for his I.D., which I found at first quite odd given the stringent ID rules of the store. I guessed that perhaps she was about to ask for our ID’s within the next moment, so I pushed my ID which laid on the counter closer to her direction. She then grabbed my ID, went over to some scanner and ran it through, and within a few seconds she came my way, said “It’s a fake, get out of my store,” threw my ID in some cardboard box behind the counter, and ignored my plea. Confused, I left the store and called the police. I explained my situation to dispatch, who responded that “she can’t do that, we’ll send somebody over right away.”

The cop shows up minutes later. He gets out of the car with his Oakley’s on and has a smile that seemed happy, almost as if he recognized me. We greet each other and he immediately asks for my ID. I respond, “Well, I don’t have it because she has it,” thinking to myself “Is this not precisely why you are here, did they not communicate to you why you were being sent?”. He goes “Oh right, she has your ID, so you can’t give me one, ahh.’ “Ahh, yes”. Jeff, who is standing next to me, reaches into his back pocket to present his ID, saying “here is my ID officer”. The cop reacts: “whoa whoa, did I ask you for your ID? Put it back slowly. From now on this is how we are going to operate: you do only what I ask for.”

At this point Marcos and Britney are getting out of the pizza joint next door where they have placed our order. They notice Jeff and I outside Chrispy’s talking to a cop, so they curiously walk up to us. The cop spins around and blurts “Whoa, Hey, who are you guys?” with that same smile and apparent jovial cheer. Marcos extends his hand, “hello officer, my name is Marcos,” and the cop stood back refusing the shake, “I don’t shake hands”. “It is policy for me, you could be a threat”. Marcos, who is about as threatening in appearance as an ice cold beer on a hot summer day, says “I can understand that”, to which the cop replies “I could drop you to your knees if I wanted to. In fact I could drop a man who is twice your size, three hundred pounds to his knees”. With that statement being said, which abruptly fell from nowhere and left us in bewilderment as to what was his point and what does this have to do with anything whatsoever about our current situation, the cop proceeded inside to talk to the counter lady, only just after he lined us up against the car and telling us to “stay put”. I thought it humorously ironic that 30 minutes after my graduation from Seminary I now find myself with the police lined up against a car in front of a shady liquor store on the dirty side of Rantoul.

The cop returns with his bright teeth shining through his grin and a piece of paper with my ID photocopied on it. He first comments that the lady is a loner and her only help behind the counter is about “this big,” quickly questioning the boy’s manhood by extending his pinky finger in reference. He then proceeds to show me the apparent flaws with my ID, which were deficiencies with lamination and margin setting. It scans my age apparently, but didn’t provide some other info that should be provided in her scanner. Behind all the jargon the point was that “it works, but there are problems with it.” But in his wise judgment he left the ball in the ladies court. He said “this is a problem between you, her and the commonwealth of Mass.” (I will note here that he took the time to correct me when I said the state of MA; “It is not the ‘state,’ it is the ‘commonwealth,” he pontificated).

Frustrated at this point, I tried to plea with him that my flight to Texas was in two days. In his brilliantly powerful reasoning ability, he deduced “Ahh, and you cant get on the plane unless you have your ID, and she has it” “Ahh, yes.” It was here where I noticed that his fixated grin contrasted with his eyes that began to move erratically, which betrayed something wild and savage hidden underneath. Marcos acutely observed that he reminds one of the “Cheshire Cat”. He replies “You look like a smart guy, and I hate repeating myself: this is not my problem.” He walks to his car and turns around, guffawing a friendly chuckle and offering one last remark “You know, I am glad that this happened to you. I have a lot of Bad Luck in life, and it is good to see someone else having Bad Luck in their life also. Bye,” and waves his hand farewell.