Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew were staples in my diet through high school, and most of college, although in college, I was rather poor, so I would settle for the Wal-Mart versions, Dr. Thunder and Mountain Lightning.
When I was little, I had my first Dr. Pepper, and I loved it, but one of my brothers told me it was disgusting, so for some reason, I agreed and stopped drinking it. Years later, a fellow student named Alec, with whom I would become good friends, swore by it. I was reintroduced, and and re-hooked.
Dr. Pepper became sort of symbolic to me, because it was that soda that is not always available, and that not many people seemed to like… Perhaps in addition to the taste, I liked that it was sort of an identity thing. That, and if Dr. Pepper was around, I probably wouldn’t have to share it much.
One night, Alec and another friend of ours who went by Grundle… If you know what that means, don’t ask… If you don’t know what that means… don’t ask.) and I were driving around Grundle’s 83 Buick Park Avenue (the thing was a big, white, couch on wheels. It was not uncommon for me to nod off in the passenger’s seat. Freakin nap waiting to happen.) for some reason at about 2am. I don’t recall the appeal to driving around with no destination these days, but back then it was a great time. We’d just get in the car and go. Didn’t need to know where we were, had no idea where we were going, and had no need to be back at any particular time.
This one particular time, we found ourselves puttering around on the streets of Wilmington MA. I don’t think I’ve ever been there since. As we passed a small plaza, I happened to notice through the window of some business, a Dr. Pepper soda machine! I’d never seen such a thing, and couldn’t believe that it actually existed. Alec didn’t see it, so I asked Grundle, the driver, to turn around.
We turned around, pulled into the parking lot, and up next to the window of the place. There it was, a big, red Dr. Pepper soda dispensing machine, glowing bright red in the otherwise dark place of business.
“Wow!” he said, just as surprised as I was. We lingered a moment or two, and shuffled on our way. We pulled back out onto the road, and started off again. Moments later, we were pulled over by the Wilmington Police.
This was one of the first times I’d ever been in a car that was pulled over, so I didn’t really know what was going on. The cop came to the window, and wanted our I.D.s. “You guys have any weapons or drugs I should know about?” We didn’t. The worst thing we ever did together was Dr. Pepper. “No,” we all said in unison.
The cop looked at Grundle, who had long hair and a Nirvana shirt. “So if I told you I smelled weed on your breath, I’d be lying??”
“You’d have to be,” Grundle said with a shrug and a grin. “I haven’t smoked weed since New Years Eve.” Grundle was asked to step out of the car.
It was then that I realized how strange it was that two 17ish kids and one 21 year old (Grundle was a older) were driving through Wilmington MA at 2am… Especially since we had no destination, Alec and I were from Brookline MA, and Grundle was from about an hour deep into Maine.
Grundle was asked to stand outside the car, with his hands on the roof, while the cop went to his car and ran our licenses. A Volkswagen Jetta filled with teen girls went around us, and beeped. Grundle put on a big smile and waved, “How ya doin ladies?!” he shouted, which got him an immediate holler from the cop to put his hands back on the hood.
Long story short, we were all good kids with no history of problems, so the cop let us go. I asked Grundle what he was asked, and he said the cop wanted to know what we were looking at in the parking lot… I asked what he said, realizing it was sort of an unbelievable truth… “I know it sounds stupid, but my friends really like Dr. Pepper, and they saw the Dr. Pepper machine, and wanted to get a closer look.”
Boy am I glad I wasn’t the one to have to answer that question…
Have you ever been approached by a cop who misunderstood what was going on?