Thoughts about Virginia…and why I love the Nashville Police Department

In the wake of the horrible event that took place in Virginia last weekend, I was reminded of a couple of things. #1 Sometimes people can be atrocious maggots, and I’m speaking of the one guy who drove his car into the crowd. And #2 How much I love the police department here in Nashville. In my experience, they’ve been nothing but top-notch, literally the guardians of the city.

One story I can share happened a few months back on a Thursday I went downtown to watch the Predators play in the Stanley Cup finals. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous because the crowds there were so big. Someone might have seen it as a perfect opportunity to inflict harm on people. But I decided to go anyway, so I met up with a friend a couple miles from downtown. We walked from Centennial Park all the way down Broadway to set up our camping chairs at one of three giant screens they erected for fans to watch. As we neared the organized chaos of that night (CMA Fest was also happening at the same time) and saw thousands of people scattered throughout the downtown streets, we also noticed something else.

This…

Those are a dump trucks. Those are giant dump trucks lined up back to back. This was at the intersection of Broadway and maybe 10th or 11th Avenue. From there down the rest of Broadway was all blocked from vehicle traffic and these giant blockades would prevent any sort of “terrorist” from driving anything smaller than a tank into the crowds that night, and the entire weekend. It made me so proud. SO PROUD. Our police department, and city officials, plus CMA and Predators folks as well, were thinking ahead and planning in ways I never thought of to protect me and everyone else who just wanted to have a fun, safe night.

Awesome, awesome, awesome.

I know this is just one example and I’m sure there are plenty of other stories about the police here. We’ll never know what possible barbaric acts were prevented the nights Nashville hosted the Stanley Cup finals and the CMA fest on the very same nights. But my memory from those nights will be how Metro Police officers were our guardians.

-Out of the Wilderness

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Being black in America

On that one characteristic alone, being black in America, I can’t relate. I’ll never be able to because I’m white in America. But! with what has been broadcast across the country lately between law enforcement and communities of black people I can finally say that I understand, even if it is only slightly. The specific aspect I’d like to address is that of a black person on any typical day feeling singled out, “profiled”, and/or targeted for no good reason. To explain how this happened, I need to include my Nissan Versa.

It’s a beaut, Clark. A beaut.

I’ve had this Versa for about 10 years and she’s a real beaut. However, she’s taken a licking or two over the years, and most recently got into a scurfuffle with a Chrysler. Here’s the damaging footage (impact is 29 seconds in):

What you can’t see in the footage is that the Chrysler basically dismembered the front left side of the Versa. My bumper is detached but barely hanging on, the cracked headlight now points a few feet in front of the bumper, etc. It’s the headlight that taught me today’s lesson.

img_20170111_210044313Because it’s cracked, moisture got in and the bulb went out. So in the evenings, I’ve been driving around with one headlight. Not a problem, right? That’s what I thought, too, but then bam! Hello, class c misdemeanor! I’ve been stopped by the police 3 times this week. F your i, I wouldn’t drive at night, except that some days it’s required for a job I have. So as the sun sets I’m driving around nervous, eyes darting here and there, heart beating faster, strategically positioning myself in traffic, always wondering where a police car is and how I can get past them without being a bother. Then I think to myself, “So this is how it feels to be Odell Beckham after he scores a touchdown, no wait, this is how it sometimes feels to be black.”

In my case, the police are doing their job and I thank them for it. But sometimes (at least the stories reported in the news), the police are singling folks out without cause, not what their job is.

The nerves, heartbeat quickening, doubt, feeling targeted, now I know a little of what that’s like and quite frankly, if it were about my skin color and not just driving with one headlight at night, I’d never want to leave home. It’s not fun, it’s not fair, and if it doesn’t change, that’ll be a gigantic mistake.

If you’re curious about how it feels, disconnect one of your headlights and drive around a few nights with a single beam. It’s a rush!

-Out of the Wilderness

Going 80 in a 40

I begged, I pleaded, but no one I talked to seemed willing budge… except one kind lady. It was an odd circumstance because I wasn’t immediately given a speeding ticket. I was brought into a room where I had a chance to present my case… and it wasn’t going well. That’s where they handed me the $195.00 ticket, much more than I wanted to shell out. The first lady, the kind one, seemed to have a soft heart, which was working in my favor. Evidently her boss caught wind that she was about to cave, and another agent was assigned to my case. She was not budging as I began to shed tears. For some reason, a new agent came along and he was nice to me, but I doubted his willingness to waive the ticket. Then I woke up.

This was one of those dreams you wake up very grateful that it was a dream (but embarrassed to wake up crying). Weird, though, I’ve been paranoid every time I see a cop car. It seems now I have more questions than answers… like why was I going 80 mph in a 40 mph zone? Were the 3 agents a metaphor for anything in my real life? What kind of car was I driving? I’ll just assume the answer to that last question is this:

general lee

Hey, it’s my dream!

Just a good ol’ boy,
Out of the Wilderness

Mustache Friday

Tom Selleck.   Hulk Hogan.   White Goodman.   Ben Wilder.

What do these four men have in common? A fairly common case of Awesomeupper Lipness. For seven days I wore a mustache with as much commitment as I could muster. Consider it an experiment in social acceptance. Here are a few reactions I got from people:

Nice ‘stache.

Are you trying to get on the government’s watch list? Because you’re creeping out Amber.

*applause*  I’m applauding the mustache… manly.

Oh, damn… that’s deisel!

Magnum.

Are you trying out for the Police Academy?

I think I saw you on “How To Catch A Predator” last night.

Have you been watching “Three Men and A Baby”? What inspired this?

Honey, come over here. (mother commanding young daughter near me at a yard sale)

Ben, you have some dirt— *points finger to upper lip*

You kinda look like Tom Selleck. *followed by ‘not-a-compliment’ laughter*

What are you doing? (me to myself in the mirror)

*A nod and a wave from another guy with a mustache*

I’ll still hang out with you, it doesn’t matter.

You should grow it out.

Slow down, ‘stache.

Ben Selleck.

I like your mustache.

Birth control.

The Dude abides.

This is not the first time I’ve grown a mustache, however I was more commited this time, and spent more time making it look the best it could. Suprisingly, I never heard these comments:

That mustache is hot.

Hey manly man, take me out on a date and make my whole life worthwhile.

If I said your mustache was awesome, would you hold it against my lips?

If your mustache was money, it would be a thousand dollar bill!

Wow, Tom Selleck looks like you.

Did Chuck Norris scare the rest of your beard away?

*after seeing me, girl to current boyfriend*   We’re done.

*after seeing me, girl to current boyfriend*   See? Now that’s a man.

*after seeing me, girl thinks about current boyfriend*   Am I settling?

His upper lip is partying like it’s 1989.

Does that policeman know he’s awesome?

Is he punching through glass because he can or because he can?