Long ago I had a friend – who was not that close a friend but I did enjoy his company – and we hung around together with other guys in our little gang. Actually, we were more like a group than a gang, since we weren’t so tough. What I remember most about him was that he had these brown eyes – not unlike those of a beagle, but with small gold flecks in them. ‘Course this was not unusual except for the fact that he had what I suppose some might call a lazy left eye. But that isn’t exactly accurate either since his left eye had this odd propensity for rolling down to the lowest point available – sort of like a marble slowly rolling to the bottom of a tipped bowl. He was actually somewhat proud of this and developed the habit of cocking his head to the right to look directly at you while his left eye drifted down to the bottom of it’s socket and then in toward his nose – rolling back and forth just a bit as it settled into its new position – giving him a slightly quizzical and cross-eyed look. Reminded me of how a beagle puppy looks when he loves you dearly but is oh so very confused by your actions. The overall effect was quite disconcerting at first and hilarious once you got used to it. He knew this and used it to his advantage. (If you ever want to see what he must have felt like, the fun he had, try talking to someone in a serious manner while looking at their ear lobe instead of in their eyes. Try it, it really is quite fun.) Anyway, that’s also how my friend got his nickname: Quiz. I haven’t seen him in years…
So a few weeks ago I was puttering around the house muttering to myself as us old guys may do from time to time. Did I say puttering? Well, to tell the truth it wasn’t nearly so aimless as all that. I was actually trying to think of a way to automate snapping tiddlywinks into the cup. Thought it might be kind of cool for those who are challenged with their manual dexterity.
But anyway, while I was thus engaged, I heard the rap of knuckles on my old and rickety screen door. When I counted four knocks, I gathered that the knocker (person, not brass) was going to be insistent. I knew this because friends usually knock three times (just enough to be sure you hear them but not so much as to be rude), and pranksters knock once or twice (guess they’re in a hurry to get away). But salesmen and other like-minded, determined folk tend to knock four times. I think they believe it gives them the dominant (or assertive) position in these interactions, or some such nonsense. Anyway, it did not occur to me that the person could be an ‘official’ from the city, so imagine my surprise when, as I approached the door, I saw the dark blue of a public servant’s uniform.
“Gee, who could this be,” I thought. “I hope it’s not a fireman coming to tell me my house is on fire,” But no sooner had I finished when I looked at the man’s face and almost lost my teeth (my dentures) as I tried not to burst out laughing, because, you see, he had the exact same expression on his face that my friend used to put on – the lost puppy look with his left eye still settling in to its most comfortable spot. Exactly the same. I almost doubled over.
But, even though my eyes were blurring with tears from trying to keep from laughing, I kept my cool and asked, through the screen door, “May I help you?”
He cocked his head to the right and, seemingly innocent as can be, but with that look on his face, answered, “Mr, Stobbern?”
“Yes,” I hate it when people answer me with a question. Makes me feel like I’m being interviewed by a shrink. “What is it?”
“Mr. Stobbern, I have here,” he said, waving a crisp white, neatly folded paper at me, which caused his head to move just enough for his eye to roll back and forth the slightest bit, bringing real tears to my eyes, “a warrant warning you to cease and desist or we’ll be forced to arrest you.”
“Cease and desist what?”
“Growing weed sir.”
“What weed? What are you talking about?” Ever try to be serious and appear irritated while the person you’re impressing is staring at you with a wobbly eye? It ain’t easy.
“Sir, you see that yellow thing out there in your yard?”
“That sir. It is against the law to grow. You’ll have to get rid of it right away.” Eye drifting down and toward his nose as he cocked his head at me again.
“But it’s a weed! It’s not illegal. Weeds just grow. Everywhere.” I could swear that my own eyes were starting to roll around in disbelief.
“Well sir, it says here that, as per the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, it is illegal to grow cannabis – aka marijuana, mary jane, pot, weed, or smoke. So you’ll have to pull it up or risk arrest.”
Now I was really getting mad. The heck with the marble rolling around in his eye socket – this guy had a whole bunch of marbles rolling around in his brain. But the damnedest part of it all was, he was trying to be nice.
I tried to remain calm, “Look, officer, you are a real officer, right? I mean this isn’t a joke or candid camera or anything like that, is it?”
“Yes sir, I’m a real officer of the law and I can assure you this is no joke. You’ll have to remove the weed.”
“Look officer, that is a dandelion, not pot. It’s just a weed.”
“Yes sir, I understand that and I’ll have to ask you to not be stubborn, Mr. Stobbern. We’re being extra ‘flexible’ here by giving you this chance. You have to get rid of it, or be arrested for breaking the law.”
I’m thinking, ‘We? Does this wack job have a mouse in his pocket or what?’ But at this point I knew ‘WE’ weren’t going to get anywhere, so I said, “Fine. Excuse me,” as I pushed my way by him, walked out into my front yard, pulled up the dandelion and ate it. (In case you don’t know this, dandelion greens are actually quite good in a salad and they’re good for you too.)
“OK? There! Happy now?”
“Well sir, I’ll let it go with a warning this one time as I’m sure you’re not aware of it, but ingesting weed is also illegal,” and with a “Thank you sir, have a good day,” he walked off. That’s when I noticed the DEA stenciled on the back of his jacket. Guess he really was for real. And here I’d thought he was a looney.
Well anyway, I just rolled my eyes and went back to my puttering. I mean what else could I do? But Geez! That expression, with his eyeball rolling around… priceless. Wonder what ‘ol Quiz is up to these days?