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  • I was not an experienced drinker. However, I figured if some guy sent a drink to my table, then I was obligated to drink it. I have since learned that this is not the case. So, after drinking enough White Russians to lose count, I was three sheets to the wind when my friend dropped me off at my car. I had to drive about six blocks to get home. I assured my friend I would be fine and cranked up my mother's old boat - a Chrysler New Yorker - starting back to my grandfather's house.

    My grandfather lived in a gated community along the intercoastal in Ft. Lauderdale. The people in the community had hired an off-duty police officer to patrol, to watch over them while they slept. I punched in the code and waited for the gate to open. About two blocks away from home, I realized the cop was pulling me over. I hadn't been driving erratically. He walked up to my window to tell me that my headlight was out. I had forgotten to punch it - you had to punch it to get the cover to come down. I thanked the officer and started to roll up the window - but then he rapped on the glass.

    "Step outside of the vehicle," the cop said. I stepped outside and the officer asked me to walk the line. I failed miserably. Neither could I touch a finger to my nose. It wasn't looking good for me. I explained that I would park my car and walk the rest of the way - I just lived over on Laguna Drive. He wasn't to be reasoned with.

    Here's the problem with being drunk, young, and a big mouth. I said something like - You can't arrest me! You are a rent-a-cop! He then decided to cuff me. I was going to the Broward County Jail. I think I called him Barney Fife as he was throwing me in the back seat of the cruiser.

    Arriving at the Broward County Jail, I was sober and miserable. They put me in the holding cell with a wiry black chick who had stabbed her boyfriend with an ice pick. She was afraid of me. We were soon joined by lots of wayward girls. Apparently, the cops sweep up the parking lots of bars, netting a bunch of fish. One girl began to sing House of The Rising Sun, and soon we all joined in. I am not making this up.

    The next morning, my mother had come to collect me. I begged the police not to send me home with her. I told them my life was in danger. They just laughed.

    As it turned out, I was ordered to attend alcohol awareness classes for six consecutive Saturday mornings. If I satisfactorily completed the classes, this mortifying incident would be expunged from my record. I went to the classes, where they showed us the devastating results of drinking and driving. Educational filmstrips complete with twisted metal and body bags. It was enough to drive anyone to drink - so we did. The entire class would leave together and walk two blocks to a little dive bar for an early afternoon cocktail.

    One night in jail was enough for me. I have never been back.

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