The Texas A&M Aggies are famous for many things: Friday night yell practice, the yell fish, kissing your girl after a score, kissing someone else’s girl after a score, Dat Nguyen, remarkably high ranking collies, so forth. A&M’s most famous aspect might be the idea of the 12th Man: an entire stadium standing at attention, just in case someone’s injured and a student (or reasonably non-flabby being) is called upon to descend from the stands, shed his work-a-day garb and don the maroon and white uniform of an Aggie to shuffle around on the field and not get in the game which is, basically, how the tradition started. It’s noble in ideal and, because the original 12th man E. King Gill never got to actually play, certainly noble in practice. This is Division I-A college football (!!!), and it’s scary enough letting walk-ons miss tackles against Allen Patrick. Still: 12th Man. It’s pretty cool.
There is a 13th Man at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. That Man is named the University Police Department. I was arrested by the 13th Man sometime around 12:30 a.m. on the morning (or night) of Monday, November 19th, for hopping a fence and walking into the stadium and taking pictures and, generally, being the incaculably foolish fan that I am. But I did get some pictures, one of which was taken by the security guard who called in the four police cars that eventually showed up. He was a decent human being who took pity on a poor schmuck about to be hauled off into the awful waiting game of Dial-a-Bondsman.
So now I’ve got a charge of criminal trespass, a Class B Misdemeanor. I also spent 12 hours in the Brazos County Jail. My arresting officer – a reasonably decent Panamanian named Dalton – answered my question, posed from the back of a squad car because I was after all arrested, concerning the relative excitement of the morning shift at Texas A&M University by saying, very prophetically: “Well, you get your typical student dumb shits. Drunk, partying, dope [author’s note: I haven’t heard the term “dope” outside of interviews with guys like H.S.T. and Muhammad Ali and Lyndon Baines Johnson], that kind of thing. Then you have [the town of] Bryan, which isn’t too nice.”
Me: “Lots of crime?”
Dalton: “Oh, yeah. You know those lists they put together at newspapers or U.S. World News and Report or whatever?”
Me: “Yeah, you mean like ‘Nation’s Safest City’?”
Dalton: “Yeah. Except Brazos County ain’t on that list.”
My holding cell mates when I left were: a chunky white man about 34 years old with an $11,000 bail – accrued, anecdotally, through things like fraud and other less glamorously violent charges – and no hope of posting after being there since Saturday and who was well versed at using a roll of toilet paper for a pillow and his jacket as a blanket/night-simulator; a mid-twenties black man transferring from Sandy Creek prison named Chris, who’s served 3-and-a-half years on an 16 year term for aggravated assault which, as he explained to me, “ain’t no small shit. You don’t even sniff parole until year eight man, ya dig me? Thass why I’m here paying it off, man, you got-ta pay it off else you’ll be in this motherfucker forever,” with “paying it off” a catch-all phrase for coming to terms with whatever shit you’ve got yourself in, a kind of karmic koan to help concentrate the necessarily fickle idiot winds of human consciousness into a relatively efficient force capable of dealing with court appointed lawyers and the ugly realities of the Brazos County Jail baloney sandwiches, and let me emphasize that Chris, with his rolling bass thunder of a voice and his impossible to understand pitch-oscillation, was a helluva pro bono adviser because he gave me an absolutely sterling mental tour of the surrounding incarceration industries; a Guatamalan man picked up for hitting another car and being Guatamalan, which is to say illegal immigrant – a fact confirmed for us by the Gautamalan whose only English words seemed to be “free?” while pointing at the collect call phone, “taxi driver” in explanation of his (illegal) occupation, and “deportation” in reference to his fate. The Gautamalan slept like a baby most of the time, a man deeply in touch with his destiny and completely serene with whatever was going to happen to him in the terribly strange country we call America.
I was bailed out by a Mr. David Hargrave, whom I’ve never met. David is the brother of Daniel Hargrave, a family friend for many years, a staunch Texan and one of the best human beings I’ve ever eaten In ‘n Out with (there are literally thousands of human beings I’ve eaten In ‘n Out with, and Daniel is in the .001 percentile which, due to my math skills, might actually make him into a fractional person but whatever). The loose network of support I call my Mobile Ozone Layer began to branch out into the dark corners of the bail bond universe and, from all the way by LAX in Los Angeles, a spark was set forth that would eventually become the all-mighty raging inferno of a miracle personified by David when he drove, from Houston on the way to Fort Worth, to pick my ass up from County.
Also: my mom rocks.
So I now have a $1015 bail bond fee and a $143 towing charge to add to the growing list of horrors I call a budget.
Am I bitter? Certainly. But I am also realisitc. Every officer of the peace I met told me, “Yeah, it sucks, but it’s our job. If you had done this any other time besides the Texas game you probably would’ve been fine.” This last part rotated in with things like “before 9/11” and “the whole Bush library thing”.
So it appears that once again the unholy trinity of the Texas Longhorns, George Herbert Walker Bush and Osama bin Laden have conspired to make my life painfully, painfully interesting.
Finally: 5’8″?!? That’s bullshit. I’m 5’9″. That’s just egregious misrepresentation of the facts. I demand a lawyer.