This was never truer than in Stillwater one evening at dusk when I’d been to the Dairy Queen. I’m headed home, licking a cone, taking my eyes off the residential streets to capture its drips. I know I’m weaving, but I just can’t eat and drive at the same time.
Glancing in the rear-view mirror, I see the pulsing blue and white lights of a police car. I turn the corner, hopeful he’ll go straight.
The panic button goes into overdrive.
I pull over and turn off the ignition.
I look at the ice-cream cone. Dripping on my shorts. Sure to be seen.
I shove it into my purse.
I stare straight ahead. Maybe the policeman is just stopping to eat a sandwich. I hear a tap on the glass. There he is. Staring. Somber. He motions a roll-down of the window. I fumble, but finally get it all the way down.
“So Ma’am,” he says. “What’s happening?”
“I’m going home. To the cats.” Flustered, my words slur.
“Ma’am, have you been drinking?”
“Please get out of the car.”
“I can’t! The cats are waiting for me.”
“Out of the car, Ma’am.”
I glance over at my purse. The ice cream’s melting. Oozing onto the car seat.
“What’s that, Ma’am?” he asks, leaning in to get a better view.
“My ice cream cone.”
“You carry it in your purse?”
“It was the only place to hide it.”
“I didn’t want to be caught eating and driving.”
“It’s drinking and driving that’s bad, Ma’am.”
“Where do you live?”
I give him my address, two blocks away.
“Ma’am, turn on your ignition and drive home. Straight home. Eat your cone there.” As he turns back toward his patrol car, I hear him mutter, “If there’s any left.”
He follows me home, stops his patrol car, and watches as I unlock the front door. I turn to wave at him. He blinks his lights. Pulls away from the curb. We never meet again.