Freudian Slips: Sink or Swim

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

June 07, 2005

Sink or Swim

Naivety is a welcome mat for youth but a pulled rug out from under the feet of any adult. Allow me to digress to my late teens to lay down myself and the law of the land.
When I picked up my girlfriend for a picnic in her distant hometown, I naturally relied on her on where to go. Medford Lakes, New Jersey is a secluded retreat where space outnumbers people. It is a town of forestry and picturesque bodies of water. We made several turns but each road had a knack of looking innocuous and sharing a lack of landmarks. Along the way, she urged me to slow down the car before showing me a secret entrance to a hideaway place. Over the squeak of my brake pads, she told me what must happen next. I put the car in park and exit. I lifted a split rail log effortlessly off the fence post. After I drove the car through, I repostioned the rail back into place. It is a decision I would come to regret. My car snaked its way across a sandy foot path.
"Turn left. Joe, follow the path right. Slow down. Do you see the lake?"

"Yes. You better believe I see the lake."

The car wound up parked about 75 yards from a glistening lake on the eve of an amber sunset. I was a willing virgin to both the town and its beauty. I tossed a blanket down to buttress the sand. My girlfriend spread a picnic basket full of edible delights and the obligatory six pack of spirits. Her smile doesn't tell the truth. Neither does mine. The day and relationship were fading away. She was about to leave for studies at Ohio University. I would be attending a local college like a pot luck hick afraid to leave home. It was sink or swim by the lake. Both of us sensed it but neither one of us wanted to embrace the thought for very long.

About thirty minutes of food and conversation later, we noticed a police cruiser riding up and down the rural road but by then it was too late to reverse our fate. The police officer cannot figure out how we gained entry to the lake. Without my girlfriend as a travel guide, I wouldn't be able to find my way back to civilization. The policeman abandoned his car and resorted to foot patrol. By the time he walked the country mile to our horizontal hideaway, he was hopping mad. A word to the wise, never ever make a cop walk not even for donuts and coffee. When he came upon us, we had every stitch of clothing on. We were not drunk but there were evidence of open bottles. What he found were two lovers prolonging the relationship and the inevitability of its likely demise.
The police officer questioned. "Do you two know you are trespassing?"
Strong introductory words I thought to myself. I stood up. "No." I answered.
"How did you get your car inside the private property?"
A good boyfriend doesn't spill what the frightened mind conjures up. My lips didn't move but a part of me wanted to. I toyed with uncorking something to the effect of "She told me to do it. She showed me how to jimmy the fence. Arrest her!"
Instead, I took the high road. I replied, "There was an opening in the fence."
"Uh-huh, just enough to slide your Camaro through? Don't lie to me. There is no downed fence. What do you think I was doing out there while you were pussy footing around?"
The gig was up. This quickly turned into no picnic and no day at the beach. I did not know what else to say. My girlfriend kind of rolled to a standing position before coughing up an honest to God explanation. "Okay, I come here all the time. There is a bum rail that can slip through the post."
Suddenly, the amber sunset didn't seem so special and the private lake seemed like Main Street USA. Bob Seger's Do You feel Like a Number would have been the primo soundtrack for my girlfriend's comments. I felt worse without thinking that were possible.
The officer puffed his chest to the acknowledgment of repeated offenses. "Let me tell you what I am going to do with that confession. I am going to give each of you a citation for trespassing. Now take all of your possessions and get out of here. O-U-T, Out! I'll see you both in court."
The policeman was right and wrong. He was right about the trespassing but wrong in that he did not see both of us in court. My girlfriend moved to Ohio. She avoided prosecution as a fugitive who crossed State lines. The September court date made me public enemy #1 and maybe the only wily trespasser left in Medford Lakes. Looking back on our brief relationship, boundaries may have been a definite problem with this otherwise sweet girl.
As my case was called before the Judge, I felt a double swallow move up and down my throat. I moved into a standing position before the Judge. Frilled brow alone, the Judge looked like he had been protecting the provincial ways of Medford Lakes for half a century. I lost the speckle of hope I had and now seemed doomed to pay the piper.
"Where is the other Defendant in this case?" The Judge asked in a no nonsense voice.
I answered, "If I may, your honor, she moved to Columbus, Ohio."
"Are you sure of that?"
"Absolutely sure. Our relationship is pretty much over. The only thing between us is this matter before the court."
"No lawyer, young man?" he growled.
My suit never felt so darn tight. I thought to myself, maybe I made a huge mistake by not hiring legal counsel. I hoped that I could talk my way out of trouble but that remained to be seen. My next hundred words would decide my fate.
"No, I'm representing myself." My voice was too weak for the occasion.
The Judge raised his hand, "Very well then. Tell me your side of the story."
Wet concrete set in around my ankles. Here goes. I glanced over at the police office before beginning my defense, which started with the admission of guilt. The world had seen better lawyers at a middle school mock debate.
"Judge, I was wrong. I am from Turnersville, New Jersey and our only two lakes are public. I am not familiar with Medford Lakes. It is my girlfriend's home town. I moved a rail to get beyond the fence. That I did. I regret doing it. Our intention was not to steal anything or destroy property. We were renting the beauty of the lake. I didn't see any signs warning of private property although the perimeter fence should have been enough of a clue. The police officer explained where we went wrong." I was running out of things to say. "Ugh, I wish my girlfriend were here to..."
The Judge possibly tired of my rambling. "Young man, have you ever been in trouble with the law?"
The Judge tilted forward his high back chair. Oh boy, here comes the guilty verdict. It is time to go to jail or at the very least get out my checkbook and start encircling zero after zero. The Judge rendered a decision. "The fact that you showed up, knowing your girlfriend left you high and dry shows some character. It sounds like you learned your lesson and if future travels take you through Medford Lakes, will you respect private property?"
"Yes, sir. No more trespassing."
The Judge briefly paused. I can still hear the 25 year old decision as if it were yesterday. "Case dismissed."
Any time I have ever appeared in a court of law, I have represented myself Pro Se. This was my first of four improbable victories in court. Don't ask me how, don't ask me why. It is material born for Freudian Slips. As for the incident by the lake, the Judge is probably deceased by now and the police officer undoubtedly retired. As for me, I have never been back to Medford Lakes. Travel on my wayward fun.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really funny one Joe. Loved the church sign. Good piece of writing. These kind are my favorite. Emily

5:08 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

So we have established that the stories I look foolish in are your bread and butter favorites.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Karl said...

You're one lucky dude! I think the Medford Lakes judges usually hang people for tresspassing on their land.........And I guess it isn't Medford Lakes anymore. It's Medford Gully. (Thanks to last year's flood).

9:38 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

The Lord said if I even got to thinking about going back to Medford Lakes he was going to bestow a terrible flood on the land. Guess I have been doing too much thinking.

11:03 PM  
Blogger cbsfinest said...

9:30 AM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

Fear not, inasmuch as I live in Utopia (which almost just next door to Medford Lakes), I think I can get you a pass.

I had a Medford Lakes adventure in my youth that included a mad dog, an angry cop and a car that would not go into reverse. -- Good times, yeah.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Sounds like fuel for thought.

Hitting close to home. make a left at the fifty foot movie prop statue.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuck behind the fence, stuck by yourself in court, what else are you going to get stuck in? I know! How about telling the story about getting stuck in the mud, in your car with a girl, on a dark and rainy cats and dogs night. Epilogue: Walk about a mile, in the drenching rain, to your house...father is furious, mother is sympathetic, teenagers extremely embarrassed. ET

4:20 PM  
Blogger Gas-o-leana said...

Hey there, Thanks for visiting my page. "School Spirit". What a great name for the movie. Sure I will proof read some of your work and I would be glad to have you help me out there too. Just visit my page and leave your comments when ever you want. My email is Lata!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

I didn't even know it was raining that night! I must have been in love. And I'll do the storytelling around here.

The spirit moved me.

11:59 PM  

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