Sunday, June 09, 2013

Protect, Serve...and Build

Some 'good cop' stories should be shared.

Recently, my old friend, Kim, brought out two photos, circa 1985, that sparked memories of a story worth retelling, what with the photo evidence and all.

During that year, I was sharing an apartment - my first - with Sharon and Jenny. Though we were all 19 years old, they fancied themselves grown-up ladies who required things like wall decor, napkin rings and furniture. Frequently, I was informed that I did not, stylistically speaking, pull my weight around the house and I'd failed to contribute my fair share of bric-a-brac.

My apathy toward potted plants and scented candles infuriated them but they nagged consistently enough that I finally relented, "Just tell me what you want, fer chrissakes!"

A wall unit, for the living room, to hold the TVs, books, candles and such, they said. "We've already got one picked out at Builders Emporium. All you have to do is buy it." (Builders Emporium was the pre-cursor to Home Depot, for you young uns.)

"FINE," I said.

So, off we went to buy the damn thing. It came in a box, much to my surprise. "Assembly required" and all that. Sharon, having been on her own since age 15, laughed at my ignorance. "I have a screwdriver," she said, confidently, "and maybe even a hammer. We can do this."

We got that sumbitch home and despite our best efforts, found the assemblage beyond our teenage girl-comprehension. At various times, two of us would try, while the third would watch. At some point, we noticed a cop car out in front of the building, no doubt responding to the ongoing domestic disputes in the unit below us.

Sharon, a marvel of resourcefulness, announced: "We're going to get the cops to build this thing. Their job is to serve, right?"

"Mostly protect, I think," I said, "I'm pretty sure that building furniture isn't part of the job...." Still, I didn't want to totally shut down the idea since we weren't getting anywhere with this piece of junk wall unit that I paid $65 for and never wanted in the first place. Before I could think the ludicrous idea through any farther, Sharon was out the front door with Jenny in tow.

In about five minutes, the girls returned with Jerry and Russ, two of Long Beach's finest. Before the cops knew what was happening, Sharon and Jenny - talking rapidly at the same time with exaggerated exasperation - pointed to the disassembled wall unit on the floor while strategically placing a screwdriver in Jerry's hand and a hammer in Russ's. In all fairness, the men - honorable to a fault - really had little choice to help these pathetic damsels in their home decor-distress.

I be damned if those cops didn't put that crappy-to-begin-with piece of furniture together in 10 minutes flat. Naturally, we had to pose for photos, though Facebook was still decades away. We wanted to send them to Kim, our pal in the Air Force, stationed in Germany. (We'd send her letters detailing our adventures, which is why she still had the photos. )

Russ, Sharon, Jenny and Jerry - in front of the finished wall unit.
Following this adventure, Russ and Jerry would occasionally stop by to check on us - our neighborhood was part of their patrol. Once they even dropped by while we were watching "Hill Street Blues" so we made them cocoa.

During this time, my brother, Rob, lived on the Peninsula down in Belmont Shore. He and his roommates would have the most outrageous parties and me, Jenny and Sharon were usually there too. During one party for my brother's birthday, the celebration became large enough that the cops showed up. We heard mumblings, "Oh man, it's over....Bummer, such a great party...Cops are here, shit..." and so on. We began to leave and then recognized Jerry and Russ in the squad car.

"Oh my god! Figures you guys would be here!" said Jerry. Naturally, we had an idea and amazingly, they agreed to it. As my brother remembers it, he's in the living room of his upstairs apartment, bemoaning the party's end when he suddenly hears three young woman singing, "Happy Birthday dear Rooooooob...!" over the squad car's loud speaker.

"It was one of the best birthday moments of my life," Rob says today. (Jerry and Russ did NOT shut the party down, though we toned it down out of gratitude.)

Many years later, I was waiting tables at The Pizza Place when I recognized Russ, having lunch in uniform with three other LB cops. I said, "Do you remember me? There were three of us and we made you build our wall unit...."

Russ, Jen (in boxers), Jerry and me.
His eyes went big and he jumped up from the table, "OF COURSE! I tell everyone that story and no one ever believes me!" Then, he turned to his co-officers and said, "Guys! This is one of those crazy girls I was telling you about! Now do you believe me?!?" 


Scarlet Paolicchi said...

Small world, huh?! Great story!

Heather Clisby said...

Ha! Good to hear from you, Sexy Scarlet! I certainly hope our paths cross again, and that there is rum involved.