In my most shameful of moments, I once received a boot on my car.
And, okay, it wasn’t that long ago.
Fine, FINE. I deserved it. I’d racked up about five parking tickets in one month, and each little slip quickly got lost somewhere in my junk mail, or my trunk, or my purse–every one of them crispy with dried coffee stains and dirty from, ah, me stamping them with fury into the ground. Out of sight, out of my busy muthafuckin’ mind! I kinda assumed that the parking gods would just take care of it and I wouldn’t have to pony up $160 overdue bucks a pop.
Wrongo! They didn’t. So one day, I got the boot.
Now here’s the thing. I’m troublesome, but I never get in trouble–and certainly, not with the LAW. This was the worst moment of my life. I felt like a criminal. I didn’t know what to do or how to handle the situation. Was this going on my permanent record? Would I have to pay my fines or face jail? Do they flog you when they return to remove the boot? Why was it so ORANGE? Where was my lawyer? Was I a bad person now?
And my gosh, the large orange mark of shame somehow negated all of the coolness of my slick black car paint and rad Steelers license plate frame! ACK!
Most importantly: WOULD THE TERRIBLE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BOOT TELL MY PARENTS (who I haven’t lived with since age 17)?!??!
I called the number, my heart racing. The mean old lady on the phone told me come down to some super-secret government/law/prison/clerical (it all sounds the same to me) office, where I would meet my reckoning.
Immediately, I raced to my closet, trying to imagine the outfit that would best convey my a) intense, due shame b) willingness to turn my life around c) overall good citizenship and d) inability (okay, lack of desire) to pay the fines in full. After much deliberation, I landed on a modest, sensible, not-too-luxe getup that screamed “I’m a non-profit librarian and devoted disadvantaged youth volunteer!”
I showed up at the office–which turned out to be administrative, with no armed guards flanking the entrance. I took a number, walked up to the window, gave her a bunch of money. The (different) mean lady at the window informed me that the boot would soon be taken off, and I was all set–I would not be arrested or even given a talking-to by the police. Sure enough, twenty minutes later, the orange boot of shame was gone–like a whisper in the wind.
I can’t help but think that dressing the part, showing how ashamed I was for being bad, kinda stood for something. Sure, the responsible garb didn’t garner any discount from The Man that day, nor did it save me from a ritual beating (shockingly, people don’t get beaten over parking tickets–although maybe they should?), but it did tacitly express deep remorse for my wrongdoings when I walked into the building. That counts, somehow. At a certain point, we’ve got to just tuck our tail between our legs, bow our heads, and admit that we’ve done something wrong. We’re not loud and proud and wrong, we’re just wrong. That makes it, y’know, better.
Perhaps this is why, when I eyed Lindsay Lohan’s “look” for her court appearance last week (to discuss violation of her probation), I was taken aback.
Who appears before a judge looking like…
Moreover, a not sorry one?
Fortunately, for Lindsay, celebrities don’t have to be sorry. We’ll still keep “rooting for them” and extending their probation.
Filed under: Annoying Things Celebrities Do, Being Wrong, Beyond Shame, Grandmas, Gremlin Grip, Hardass Asian Parents, Law Breaking Doesn't Pay, Lindsay Lohan, Shameful Behavior, The Man, Ways to Not Look Sorry
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