res ip·sa lo·qui·tur
ˌrēz ˌipsə ˈläkwitər,ˌrās,ˈlōkwəˌto͝or/
Latin, literal translation meaning: The thing speaks for itself.
__________________________________The BHE and I got into an argument the other day. And, honestly, we don't really argue much. But on that day, we did.
It wasn't about money. He hadn't left his shorts and underwear intertwined in a ball on the floor of the bathroom. Nor had he stared too intently at some strange reality television show like "Alone, Naked, Afraid, Bored and In the Wildnerness for No Apparent Reason" while I was trying to talk to him about something serious.
It wasn't a kid argument. That is, one where I think we should do one thing and he thinks another. He didn't run late with something or interrupt some plan I'd had to join a girlfriend for much needed me time. Nor had he offered some backhanded compliment to one of the thirty-minute meals I'd prepared after racing home, checking homework, and situating school items for the following day.
It was a bona fide argument. The kind where one person is incensed and the other just a little too indifferent or indignant which only makes things worse. And you know the worst part about this whole thing? We were both right.
Let me explain:
A few friends were passing through Atlanta last week. These were some of Harry's old pals from Cleveland and he was excited that things would work out for him to be able to meet up with them. And yes, it was a school night and sure, both boys had their respective sports practices but it was all good considering the plan to link up wasn't until after the kids would be turning in for bed. Simple enough, right? Right.
Okay, so check it. That all goes as planned. The BHE goes to football practice with Zachary, I go to cross country with Isaiah and we all meet back up at home. I checked homework while he showered and got ready to head out. And that's exactly what he did.
The outing went well. Those guys yucked it up past midnight and Harry got home exactly around the time he'd told me he would. And upon his arrival, I turned over and mumbled over my shoulder, "Did you have fun?" to which my love replied, "Yeah. It was really great to see my friends." And that was good.
And so. The following morning after the kids had gotten off, we were both sitting around the house having coffee since we both had later work obligations that day. In my more wakeful state, I asked more details of his evening and he obliged me. He was smiling and animated and happy. And since we both believe that this kind of time--that is, time away from your spouse and kids with your friends--is important, that made me feel good, too.
But then there was a shift. Harry wiped his face, shook his head and said, "But, man. I had something crazy happen last night, too."
And he uttered that in this light way so I sipped my coffee and raised my eyebrows nudging his story forward. Which he did.
"So I'm driving home, right? And it was kind of late like. . .I don't know. . .maybe 1? 1:30?"
"Not much after," I interjected. "I remember when you came in and I know I would have freaked if it was later than that."
"Anyways. So I'm just listening to music and driving. Next thing I know I saw a police car behind me. And, you know, I noticed it but was like whatever."
Now I was sitting upright. I placed my coffee down in front of me and cocked my head sideways. "Okay."
"Well. Even though I had met my friends out for a few beers, you know I'm not a big drinker. But even with my friends there, whatever reason didn't have one drink. I mean, not any alcohol--not a single drop. So that police dude turns on his lights to pull me over and I didn't even worry for two seconds since I knew I hadn't done anything."
"Were you driving crazy or texting?"
"Texting? Hell no. And that's you who drives crazy not me."
"So he pulled you over?"
"Yeah. Pulls me over at like 1 something in the morning. And, again, I'm mostly aggravated since I was tired and ready to get home."
"Was your seatbelt on?"
"My seatbelt?" He furrowed his brow at me. "Babe! Of course. Okay, so listen. Dude comes up to my window and gestures for me to roll it down. So I bring down the window and just look at him, saying nothing. Just staring him dead in his eyes and waiting to see why this dude was pulling me over."
"Do you know what this man did? He comes over with this big ass flashlight and starts pointing it all into my car, flashing it all over the back seats and all that. And you know what the VERY FIRST thing was that this officer said to me?"
I gasped and put my hand on my chest. "What?"
"This man puts this light straight in my face and says, 'Do you have any firearms or weapons in this car with you?'"
"Yeah, man. So I look at him like he's stupid and say, 'What? NO!' And he immediately keeps flashing that damn light all over my car and asks me some other crazy question. And I'm like, 'Look, man. Why did you pull me over? Tell me why you pulled me over so that I can go home.'"
"You said it like that? Like all funky and mad like that?"
"The FIRST THING this officer asks me is if I have a damn firearm? And I'm supposed to kiss his ass?"
"You sound crazy. Like somebody who wants to be on CNN tomorrow and who wants Al Sharpton down here talking to a crowd about what happened to you."
"Anyway." He scowled and shook his head.
"So why was he pulling you over?"
"He said that one of the little lights on the side of my license plate was out. You know, those little lights that illuminate your plate? Yeah, that. It was total bullshit."
"Was it out?"
"If it was, it was barely noticeable. He just saw me in my truck and thought he would pull me over and find something. And I was just sitting there looking at him like he was stupid."
I dragged in a big breath of air and winced because I know my husband and I know exactly how he was glaring at that officer. Which terrified me.
"Then he asks me how much I've had to drink. And I was like, 'I haven't had anything to drink at all. What are you even talking about?'"
So I'm just staring at him incredulously and trying to stay calm. He continues.
"Yeah, so I'm just waiting and he keeps flashing this light all up in the car and finally is like, 'Where are you coming from?'" And I say back, 'WHAT?' And he says it again all bad ass. 'WHERE YOU COMING FROM?'"
"I was like, 'Why?' And he says some shit about it being late or whatever. And I told him, 'Where I'm coming from is none of your business. I'm a 44 year old man and I can go and come wherever I want. I guess you thought by pulling me over you would find something but you won't. I haven't been drinking and I've done nothing wrong. So man, run this license and do whatever you going to do so I can go home. It's late and I'm tired of sitting here.'"
I stood up. "You SAID that?"
"Damn right I did. He was just effing with me and I wasn't having it. Then he says some shit about how I need to calm down or whatever. And I'm like, 'No, you need to run this license so you can find nothing and let me go.' Then he says he could give me a citation and he's trying to avoid that or whatever. And I told him, 'Man, do what you need to do. Give me the citation, don't give it to me, whatever.' And he's like, 'Well, I'm trying to spare you a $100 ticket.' Like he was doing me some damn favor."
And the BHE was saying all of this like people getting beat down in slippery stories in the news wasn't happening. So I felt my blood boiling and my heart racing. "Harry!" That was all I could think to say. He went on.
"So I told him, 'If my light is out, I'll get another light and prove that I did and get this waived. So I can do that or get it changed without that. It's up to you. Either way, I'm ready to go and you don't have a reason to hold me here. So do what you plan to do so I can go. There's nothing else to find.'" And he stood there with his chest all poked out like I was supposed to be all nervous and I just sat there still staring him dead in his eyes like, 'And?'"
"What happened after that?"
"He let me go. And I left. That was some bullshit."
I sighed again. I mean, because it was. And because he was right to be irritated and insulted by that entire exchange. But, as his wife, I need him around. Badly.
"You could have been killed, you know. Arrested, taken to jail, killed."
"I'm not sorry. He was foul."
"But you have a family."
"I am a man. A grown man. And yes, I'm a black man but still. You think if our next door neighbor got pulled over around here that somebody would make the FIRST question about whether he has FIREARMS? I wasn't speeding, I wasn't reckless, I was just DRIVING. You better be glad I didn't tell him to kiss my ass."
"You sound proud and crazy!" And I said that even though I 100% agreed with his position.
And so. We argued. About me demanding that he forgo his dignity to remain safe for his family. Which is really an awful thing to ask a man to do, isn't it?
Yes. I recognize that there have also been assaults and killings of officers by citizens. I know that they, too, are at great risk of harm in that line of work and in no way endorse such activity. I'm willing to agree that, just as we should stay on guard, they should, too. But within reason.
My upstanding citizen, grown man husband was pulled over, insulted and harassed. In his own neighborhood. Why? Well. As they say in legalese: Res ipsa loquitor. That is, "the thing speaks for itself."
Yes, it does.
I'm mad that I have to demand my husband coil into a passive blob of jello to potentially save his life when someone has done something pretty much equivalent with spitting into his face. And worse, that I will be forced to expect the same of my two sons if I want to keep them from being beaten or shot to death just for being who they are at the wrong time.
Harry was right. This was some bullshit.
The thing is this:
No matter what was happening at that moment or no matter what the impetus for that officer pulling my husband over, it bothers me that I can say with near certainty that it wouldn't have gone this way for any person regardless of phenotypic appearance. And again, as much as I'd like to argue that his race had nothing to do with any of this, in my heart of hearts I know otherwise.
So this. This is just one of the things that many people in this world will never, ever have to argue with their husbands about. Or their sons about. Nor will they ever even have to think about it. I mean, not as it applies to the immediate welfare of their husband, brother, children or grandchildren.
And so. If someone asks me what I think about all of this and how it affects my family? I'll simply say this:
Res ipsa loquitor. That is, the thing speaks for itself.
The thing being that this is some bullshit indeed.