Day 178: Almost get a DUI driving home from Santa Cruz

I’ve never had the best luck with the police. I’ve been arrested twice. Once when I was 13 and again when I was 15. Both were accounts of stealing, or as I called it, involuntary sharing. The first time was at the mall, and the second was on campus, regarding a TI-83 calculator. Ironically, both arrests, I didn’t actually steal the objects they were charging me for. My friend was stealing the sweatshirt but it was in my bag, and my other friend stole that TI-83, but I was the one getting snitched on. Because, I had stolen from the mall, and I had stolen TI-83 calculators, so I just figured this was me paying for that. My early teens were a dark era, and I didn’t see stealing as bad, until later on when I was 15 I got fired from my first job at a produce stand for stealing money out of the register. And for some reason, that job meant a lot to me, and that’s when I realized I should stop stealing and just focus on selling marijuana.

Anyhow after being on probation a few years, and having a few random interactions with the police, I’ve learned that they just don’t like me. I don’t know if it’s a racial thing or what. I mean Arabs generally don’t commit crimes on the local level. When arrested at 15, the school police officer told my dad that I ‘fit the criminal profile’, when my dad was grilling him for believing the Asian kid’s story over mine. Truth is both the Asian kid and I were criminals. I stole the calculators and he resold them at less than market value. Who was really the bad guy? At least I wasn’t a snitch. Anyways, I’ve come a long way since then.

Flash forward 12 years later, I’m 27 and I’m headlining the Crow’s Nest in Santa Cruz. One of my favorite places to perform, because they can take a smart joke and love them some raunch. So I can do literally ALL my material there, and go well over an hour and a half. On this particular night my set is decent. I was a little tipsy already, as all I ate was an ahi salad and I had two drinks. I normally don’t drink so that gets me good. After the show a guy approaches and offers to buy all the comics shots. I think about if I really want that or not, and then I say, verbatim, “Umm I’ll pass, because I’m driving home to Fremont and I don’t want to get a DUI”. It’s weird that I said that because I’ve never been pulled over for a DUI, and that though has never stopped me from drinking and driving before. He looks at me and says, “Dude, seriously, whats the worrrrst that could happen?” I take this in, being a sucker for pressure, and think, you know what? You’re right, Mr. face tattoo, because if I should listen to anyone it’s you. He buys me some shots, and now I’m tossed.

I hop in my car and drive the 17 back to Fremont, and since I went to Santa Cruz, of course there’s weed in the car. Since I don’t normally drink, I don’t normally think about the etiquette of drinking and driving, so I’m speeding, because I want to get home to eat some fish that my mom made and it’s almost 1 am, so I need to eat soon so I can sleep soon. This is my logic, very healthy sober logic. But what I didn’t realize is that you probably don’t want to break two laws at once. I’m going 80 and I suddenly see sirens behind me. At first I think, well that can’t be for me! But then they get right behind me. Sh*t. My whole life is flashing before my eyes. I pull over, and pull myself together. I’m definitely wasted. I reach for some gum and before I put it to my mouth I hear KNOCK KNOCK. How did he already get to my door?? I drop the gum and roll the window down.

Immediately I recognize that he’s a nice cop. Because he just gently says, “So I pulled you over for your speed.” Normally cops act like a d*ck about it, yelling “DO YOU KNOW HOW FAST YOU WERE GOING BACK THERE??” Even if you were doing 68 in a 65. You’ll try to play it down like, “67?” He’ll be like “TRY 68!”

This cop wasn’t like that. Very soft and not condescending. I liked that. He asks me, “Have you been drinking tonight?” I process this for a split second. I didn’t know what the right answer was. I find out later that when you tell an officer you’ve been drinking, they by law have to give you the breathilizer. I’m glad I did not know this then, because I would have instantly just said no. But I decided to be honest, and say yes. And I’m lucky I was honest, because I know if there’s one things that cops don’t like, it’s being lied to. If the police are pigs, then lies are like truffles, and they can sniff them out.

It was clear he respected my honesty, and then asked me to get out of the car. I really like that he’s a nice guy, and it makes me want to get to know him, like just have some conversation with him. And this is when I realize that I’m DEFINITELY drunk, because under no other circumstances would I want to socialize with a police officer, or anyone for that matter…but right now I just wanna chop it up with him, like where’s the after party after this? He starts asking me questions and I’m giving him chummy responses…He’s like, what did you eat tonight…I’m like seared ahi with some crusted pepper, so delicious! He agrees, yea that sounds great. Score, earn the way to a cops heart through food. He asks, are you a diabetic? I say, no…but I’ll admit I have a bit of a sweet tooth! He laughs, haha don’t we all!

Score! I’m winning this guy over. If I’m in a video game right now, my life bar is just going up. Then he starts giving me field tests, and I know I’m drunk because I’m acting super competitive and trying to nail them. Like, bet you I can say the alphabet backwards! Walk in a straight line? Watch me! Hands on the nose 5 times? I’ll do 10! Life bar way up.

Now he pulls out a breathilizer, and says “Ok, now I’m gonna ask you to breathe into this machine”. Such a cop thing to us a vague term like ‘machine’, we all know its a breathilizer, call it what it is. Just like when they say, ‘step out of your vehicle’ C’mon, we know its a Prius, stop being coy. So he pulls it out, and my logic is, that if I can take quick gasps of air in and then blow them out quickly, it’ll be like fresh air, instead of my drunk air. So I keep doing that, but the breaths aren’t deep enough to give it a good reading. He gets frustrated and goes back to his car. Looks like I’m off the hook!

That’s when 3 more cops pull up…which is bad news. Because the chances of one cop not being a d*ck, are already a very small number. The chances of 4 cops not being a d*ck, is that very small number to the exponent 4, which is virtually 0. But for some reason, all the nice cops are working this Sunday. Is Sunday national good cop day? They are nice and asking me questions about comedy. I was definitely nervous this whole time, and they are like why are you nervous, don’t you usually perform for people? I’m like yea, but those audiences don’t usually control my fate. This is a little different. Even 177 days of performing has not prepared me for this.

Now it’s getting late and my contacts are getting dry, so my eyes are twitching. The 3 new cops are saying, ‘we think he looks good to go.’ But the original cop looks at me and says, “I don’t trust those eyes. He might be on some pills.” Ugh! I thought we bonded man! Maybe I over did it and he thinks I’m on e. Sheesh.

He pulls out a bigger breathilizer, and says, ok, so you are going to breathe into this machine now. I do the same shallow breathing thing and its not getting a reading. Finally, frustrated, he says, ok you are going to give me a full breath, or I’m going to take you back to the tank and give you a blood test. I can’t argue with that. It’s time to give in and just give it my all. So I do, I give my full honest breath, everything I have, I’m breathing out alcohol I drank 7 years ago, I’m breathing out all my hopes and fears, I’m blowing harder than I ever have before…and then the machine goes…’ding, ding ding…ding…ding’. The reading appears. The cop says, well it’s slightly over. But I like you, and I think you’re good to go home.

What?? Are angels watching me? I’ve never had this kind of luck with the police. I guess the whole honest thing payed off. Plus all of those distractions bought me about an hour of sobering up. He walks me back to my car, and says, ‘I hope you never end up in this situation again.” I agreed. He said, “one last thing…you aren’t gonna write a bit about this are you?”

That’s where I definitely lied to the police officer, because the next day I’m at Tommy T’s sitting on a stool Bill Cosby style trying to recount this story.

Day 168: My Flat Tire Joke

Let’s face it, not all of my jokes are gems, but I have some good ones. But there’s one that holds a special place in my heart, because in some ways I consider it the best joke I’ve ever written. It’s my flat tire joke. For those of you who don’t know it’s simple “I got a flat tire next to a homeless man, and I was looking at him for help, for once. It was like opposite world. He’s like ‘Spare change?’ I’m like ‘Change spare?’ ” I know, genius right? Well not everyone thinks so. Too many times it’s fallen flat, ironic pun intended.

It’s June 11th, 2011 and I’m in Berkeley for an engagement celebration for one of my close friends. We are walking around I”m seeing the normal Berkeley beggars. I’d always been intrigued with them when I went there. How they are able to make a living off of the hippies that live in Berkeley. I once shot a little video, kind of a fake documentary on the beggars, and called it ‘Begging for Berkeley’ No one watched it except my friends and cousins. But the idea was I kept saying no to homeless people asking for money, and then finally I give money to one and he’s not even homeless. And later on, I’m in a predicament, and I’m now looking to the homeless guy for help. Well, it was funny at the time.

Anyway, 8 years later I’m walking the streets of Berkeley, contemplating this simple two words they utter that have so much financial power, ‘spare change?’ Just two words. Naturally my mind asks, where’s the joke here. Being mathematical I start manipulating the term, inverting it. What is it when you say it backwards? Change spare…hey, that sounds like a flat tire situation. WHOA. Suddenly my mind was blown.

Quickly I start thinking about how I can further manipulate this discover to make it funny. So, homeless person meets flat tire. Why would that happen? BAM, I can steal the premise from my film, ordinary guy looks to a homeless guy for help, and the irony! Boom, the joke was written. That night, I do it in Berkeley. It absolutely kills. And then the homie Stroy Moyd comes up and says, man that is the best joke you’ve ever written, but watch, this is the only time it’s gonna kill this hard. I don’t know why he had to put a curse on my joke, but it worked. Because for some reason, after that day, I just couldn’t tell it right. Sometimes it would work, but most of the time it didn’t, and I just couldn’t figure it out. Finally, I dug deep and rearranged the wording, and made it simpler, and it started killing more consistently. But still, it hasn’t destroyed as hard as it did that first night. Was it the curse? Or maybe it’s just the fact that Berkeley appreciates a good, ‘spare change?’ joke.