HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
ASKING THE EXPERTS: Playground designer Barry Segal gets ideas from River Heights students about a playground to honor Ryan Adams. Click Arts&Life for link to story. / Photo by Mikaylie Kartchner

Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

Getting arrested for possession of toilet paper - priceless

By Steve Shinney

December 15, 2006 | Stupidity is not a crime, but it should be.

Life is full of trade offs that don't seem worth it at the time, but as life goes on, we discover that we made a great deal. Like the time I traded a clean criminal record for the chance to have my crazy neighbor to hold me at gunpoint.

Remember how you were stupid in junior high?

I was worse.

Really, nothing was my fault. I was a quasi-innocent, partially-willing follower. I blame my fat friend and you should too.

Don't give me that look. It's as simple as this: every group of guys has a fat kid.

One summer day my chubby buddy decided that he and his fat friend (he needed one too of course) were going to go toilet-papering. Because I lacked good judgment, I decided to go along. Actually, the best people to go toilet-papering with are fat kids. If the situation goes sour and you have someone chasing you, you've got the advantage. Unfortunately we never had the chance to run, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

We planed to all sneak out of our houses at midnight. I later found out that only I actually had to sneak out because fat friend one's parents were out of town and fat friend two's folks just didn't care.

Fat kids are so lucky.

And so, as the appointed hour approached I got dressed in my night-ops gear and stuffed my pant legs with roles of toilet paper (on a side note, black sweats really should have bigger pockets) and headed out boldly into the night.

When most kids go toilet-papering, they have a plan of some sort. Generally they have a target selected, they sneak over to the target's house, they toilet paper the ever-loving crap out of the house, and then they sneak home.

Those people are smart, as I said earlier, we were stupid. We proceeded to wander around the neighborhood for the next hour looking for the "perfect house." I don't remember what we thought the perfect house would be: Probably big trees, a picket fence and fresh baked cookies waiting on the doorstep.

When that failed we spend the next hour looking that "good house."

And then we downgraded to "a house where we knew the people but we hadn't gotten before."

Around 3 in the morning someone said "Screw it, let's go hit Ryan's."

Ryan was our scapegoat. Just like every group of adolescent males has a fat kid, there's also a guy who's singled out, picked on and the butt of every joke.

Wow, maybe guys really are jerks.

We never made it to Ryan's. We were sneaking our way there when we heard a noise coming from behind us.

"Where do you think you're going?" it demanded.

I didn't panic; we had our story all planned out. We had prepared for this. We turned around to calmly explain that we were just heading home from a party.

What we saw was a middle-aged man in his underwear brandishing a shotgun. I froze mentally and physically. There is no way to prepare for this kind of thing.

Now a logical person might say, "You should have just run, there's no way he'd have really shot you." That may be true but I defy you to think that when the situation presents itself.

It's hard to have any logical thoughts when you're dealing with a half-naked man with a gun. The only thing you can think of is that you're going to die because you're face to face with the kind of person who when he hears a noise outside, doesn't just roll over, but rather decides to investigate in a hurry and decides that a firearm is more important than pants.

Thankfully, the over-eager vigilante decided to call the cops rather than teach us a lesson himself. Even more thankfully, his wife eventually brought him a robe.

Two cops showed up an hour or so later. One took the fat kids and wrote them up for curfew violations and made jokes about our capture. The other officer took me aside and slapped me with a curfew violation and being in possession of toilet paper after midnight.

So did I make a good trade? I think so. I always have something to talk about at parties and when you turn 18 they wipe your record clean, even if half the charges on there are crossed out (it turns out having rolls of toilet paper stuffed down your pants is still legal in the State of Idaho).

The only down side is the horrible mental image that's burned into my brain.

Small potatoes my friends, small potatoes.



Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
Best viewed 800 x 600.