Before settling on my house in north Dallas, I joined my buddies in a massive apartment complex called The Village, located within stumbling distance of a Disneyland of debauchery on Greenville Avenue. While we were all gainfully employed, we lived large and wild as hell with too many temptations within reach. Honestly, we didn’t even need to leave the complex to make lasting memories, and as it turns out, endure a nightmare, too.
There were about 5,000 young professionals in the complex, full of energy, and all singing from the same hymn book. With thirty pools strewn throughout the grounds and a carefree crowd, it was a playground for misbehavior. We had a reputation for our crazy pool parties, and another one for the books was on the docket one summer morning. It started like all its predecessors: the typical floating kegs, bar, and band with a start time of 10 a.m. and ending when the police drew their weapons. Word of the party got out fast and attendance ballooned. Any attempts to reign in bad behavior were increasingly futile. After a few hours of drunken partying, I sobered up and eventually split with my Playboy-worthy girlfriend to get some much-needed dinner followed by a movie. At about midnight, I jumped into my convertible to head home, roof down, no shirt or shoes, and sober as an altar boy. While I cruised, I contemplated my good fortune; real life was surpassing my dreams.
As I parked and headed to my place, I discovered four Dallas cops, all squatting and bird-dogging my place. It looked like the party diehards migrated into my living room and these cops were poised for a bust. I playfully whispered, “what’s up guys,” partly to alert them to my presence but also to hopefully deter them from taking down my crew. I succeeded, but not as intended.
I realized my misread of the situation a split second too late as a series of irrevocable dominos began to fall. Holy shit did they come at me hard. Before I could wrap my mind around what was happening, they threw me into a fence and slapped on cuffs. One of the cops, a fat little squatty man, was quite pleased with himself. He seemed to relish the moment of catching a fish and watching it flounder . . . one of those mildly sadistic types. He enthusiastically stated that I was under arrest for public intoxication. Being shirtless and buffed, the nasty little turd asked what I did for work. I had a better-than-average chance that he worshipped the Cowboys and might let me go, so I told him I played in the NFL. It was like he caught the FBI’s most wanted criminal as he joyously clapped his hands together, announcing, “Hot damn boys, we got us a Cowboy.”
Not my luck. I was fucked.
His partner pushed me towards the squad car as the little man had the gall to ask my position and what the other players were like off the field. Was Coach Landry a good guy? And on he went. I was hoping this ad-lib press conference might get me released, but I wasn’t that fortunate. Instead, they stuffed me into the back seat like I might fit if they pushed hard enough. I gave one last effort to prove my innocence as I blew fresh breath in their faces. That went over like shit in a punch bowl and so my night continued to spiral.
I was an oversized man in a clown car as my body contorted like origami and the cuffs cut off circulation to my hands. Then claustrophobia, which was my kryptonite since a young age, grabbed ahold of me as an unwanted old friend. I had to find my zen place fast or risk more than just a public intoxication charge. I shut my mouth and focused on my breath as I counted the minutes.
After processing at the station, I joined forty sorry souls in the drunk tank for the next four hours. Pacing and contemplating, I reflected how this was my first, and would be my last, arrest. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but the delicate dance between my darkness and light was seriously out of balance. These inseparable yet contradictory aspects of my being needed to be in harmony to bring my best self forward. And in the end, I wanted a future where I could look back with pride.
The arrest made a lot more sense after hearing about the rapid unraveling of the party only an hour before my ill-timed arrival. A Village rent-a-cop, who tried to quiet the out-of-control revelry, was pushed into the pool by several drunk partygoers. Not just him, though. His gun, radio, and everything else got soaked. He was furious and ready for the big dogs to come in and handle the rambunctious crowd. His backup cleared the area, and all partiers who remained by the pool risked arrest. While I failed to get the memo in time, I did get several hours of life-changing self-reflection and some sore wrists. Luckily the Cowboys never got a whiff of this rookie outing, but I would never forget it.