I will preface this story by admitting to the following:
1) Yes, it was perhaps dumb of me to not be aware of open container laws in New York. We are, unfortunately, not living in Paris after all.
2) I am occasionally completely oblivious to the power of being female.
Now we begin.
This past Saturday was a warm but slightly cloudy day at Brighton Beach, where I met up with my ladies, EH and TDS, both of whom I hadn’t seen in some months. EH is usually off being an awesome med student, and TDS was finishing school and being all theatre-y this summer. But we managed to convene for a day of leisure and booze at the beach. Yes, we would imbibe wine—red, because it didn’t need to be refrigerated—and sit in the sand and sun and surf and it would be glorious lady time.
No sooner had we opened our bottle of wine and sipped from our tiny, clear tumblers, roll up two police officers in their police officer golf cart. “Hi ladies,” they said. “You’re drinking wine, right?”
“Yeah,” I said, my voice weighted with attitude and an inherent distrust of the authorities.
“Are you from here?” they asked, smiling.
“Here?” I said, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah, the five boroughs,” said the one behind the wheel, leaning forward and giving me attitude right back. “Sometimes we get visitors drinking on the beach.”
“Well, I’m not from here, but I live here,” I said. Which is clearly not something I would have said if I thought I was doing something wrong.
“Oh, you’re just taking the out,” said the one behind the wheel, as if I was lying.
“Uh, I’ll show you my ID. I’m not from here.” I whipped out my Florida driver’s license when cops asked for all of them.
“We weren’t going to give you a ticket,” they said. “Now we have to.” They took our licenses and wheeled their stupid little cart around to the back of our towels. I sat and looked at them.
“Is there a problem, miss?”
“Uh, yeah, I’d love to know what you’re doing with our IDs.”
“We have to call in and see if there are any warrants for your arrest.” The three of us girls laughed, as if we three were somehow wild bandits who, after escaping all of the possible crimes we had yet to be captured for, had decided to finally get caught by the law by having a goddamned glass or four of Montepulciano on the beach. “And then we’re going to give you a ticket.”
“I don’t understand,” I said. “You just said you weren’t going to. Why can’t you not do that?”
He explained something about doing us a courtesy by only giving us a $25 citation because technically we were in the NYC Parks Administration jurisdiction and not NYPD territory. Normally tickets would be $150. Rather intelligently, EH chimed in, “Wouldn’t it be more of a courtesy to not give us the ticket at all, like you said you weren’t going to?” But they had already beeped into headquarters or whatever the crap they did and it wasn’t possible anymore. Meanwhile, I was wondering where they were this past week when that crazed shooter opened fire at the Empire State Building. It’s a rough life being a Brighton Beach cop, strolling around the beach in your golf cart all day, wearing shorts, and confiscating alcohol.
“Look,” I said. “I really don’t understand. I’m just trying to have a good time out here with my girls, we never get to see each other, we’re not hurting anyone, and we really didn’t know this was an issue.” I wanted to say, we all have college degrees, we’re not so dumb to so blatantly violate the law like that, but I didn’t want to take the chance and offend them into giving us the $150 tickets.
“We understand, Miss M,”—my skin crawled; I hate it when people I am clearly displeased with call me by my name. I much prefer “ma’am” or “miss” coming from jerks I can’t be bothered with.—“so we’re not going to confiscate your wine. You can keep drinking it. If another officer comes, just politely show them the ticket and they won’t bother you.” What the fuck? JUST DON’T GIVE ME THE TICKET, ASSHOLE.
But they did. And thankfully it didn’t go on our permanent records, it’s just a citation for—as so beautifully, incorrectly printed on the back of the ticket—“pubic consumption.” The cops drove away in their stupid little cart. I felt bad for how small their penises probably were.
This all happened, of course, while we were surrounded by people drinking beer directly from bottles. I should have lied about where I was from, I said.
“I think he wanted you to flirt with him,” EH said.
“The one in the driver’s seat, the cute one.”
Christ. So if I had just giggled and pushed my boobs together the three of us would be $25 richer? This really didn’t even occur to me.
“You gave the cop attitude and you didn’t flirt with him?” my mother said. “You got what you deserved. Stop with the feminist bullshit because it’s only going to get you tickets. Welcome to the real world.” Because, really, why else would two fit cops roll up to three pretty girls (not to toot our own horns, just being real) when there was a beach full of flabby older folks also drinking from open containers all around them?
To be fair, the feminist angle didn’t even register at the time—it was more of the ‘get out of my face, cop’ angle that I was pursuing and, apparently, it was not a good color on me.
New life lesson: acknowledge you are an object and get yourself out of anything with your boobs and your smile. Three cheers for feminism, a woman’s rising place in the world, career goals, and a sense of general decorum. Also, no drinking on the beach. Well, at least not from so blatant a container.