It’s the closest I have ever come to making a citizen’s arrest. The opportunity literally was within my grasp and then it was gone, sort of like the words isosceles triangle escaped me in ninth grade geometry.
Captivated at a young age by the adventures of Charlie’s Angels, I have always visualized the scenario that would prompt the display of hidden, Ninja-like moves necessary to detain a masked offender. After the final karate chop that would lay the suspect out flat, I would then call Charlie, only to hear the joyful words, “Well done, Angel!”
(And you wonder why the laundry in my home overflows to the street. Overactive imagination, anyone?)
Our family was eating in a local Mexican restaurant. There were only two booths in our particular section, an undesirable corner that faced the kitchen and backed into the bar. A young couple and their toddler were seated in the booth adjacent to ours.
After ordering the giant bowl of cheese dip that hardens into something like enamel if not eaten within the first three minutes, the five of us began talking about our day. The stimulating, intellectual conversation went like this:
Chase: “Mom, you know that song ‘Imma Be’? I thought it was called ‘Lima Bean’ because the Black Eyed Peas sing it. Get it? Lima beans and black eyed peas?”
Chandler: “Dad, can you believe I stayed up for the whole super bowl game? I wasn’t even tired because you know I can take it. When I play football in the fall, I don’t want to be a linebacker ‘cause I’m too skinny.”
Mary Mac: “Look what I can do! Since I lost my bottom three teeth, I can push the cheese dip right through the hole with my tongue!”
We are nothing, if not a fascinating family.
I noticed that the booth next to us became increasingly loud in their conversation. In the short time we had been there, the young mom and dad were on their second round of margaritas, complaining bitterly to the waiter, “There ain’t no liquor in these things! Take ‘em back, and do 'em right this time!”
Overhearing this exchange, my ten year old whispered, “If that were me, I would be in big, fat trouble.”
“You mean, sending back your sprite because there isn’t enough liquor in it?” I asked, surprised.
“No, mom,” in a tone that suggested that I never understood ANYTHING, “I would get in trouble for saying, ‘there ain’t no’.”
The young mom and dad became even more boisterous as dinner progressed, clapping and singing to songs only they could hear. Plates of food were ordered and then plates of food were sent back as the couple issued a litany of complaints that had the waiter hustling back and forth between their table and the kitchen. They finished their meal with two desserts washed down with two more margaritas, and then mercifully ended their shenanigans by demanding the bill.
And that’s when I missed my chance at a citizen’s arrest.
Once the bill was given, frantic whispering ensued between the couple, and the family of three abruptly left their table in a manner that seemed quite suspicious. My Scooby Doo radar went off – Ruh Roh - and I urgently asked my husband, “Did they just leave without paying their bill?”
A potential scenario instantly flashed through my head. In my mind’s eye, I imagined that I leaped over our table overflowing with spicy enchiladas and half-eaten soft tacos, and then chased after the tequila-filled man in my sassy knee-high boots. A flying tackle subdued him into him submission as I proclaimed in a very authoritative voice, “Sir, I am placing you under citizen’s arrest.” For effect, I was wearing a sombrero.
Before my husband could respond to my question, and seemingly out of nowhere, the young man hurried back to the table.
The knucklehead had forgotten his car keys.
And then he ran out of the restaurant, again.
“But.....but..... did you see.....we need to....”, I stammered as I realized what had happened. The man was long gone before I slowly came out of the reverie in which I was calling Charlie on my cell phone looking for the congratulations my tackle deserved.
We talked to the waiter afterwards, expressing our sympathies for the unfair situation. He explained that it happened quite often, a discouraging reality of the restaurant business.
Walking to our car, I kept thinking of the different ways in which I could have better reacted. If only I had yelled, “ALTO (halt)” alerting the other employees to the “eat and run” taking place. If only I had been quick enough to grab the offender’s keys, playing keep away with my husband until the law arrived.
It all happened so fast, dashing any dreams of responding like one of Charlie’s Angels. Not only did those high-heeled girls have quicker reflexes than yours truly, they clearly were not distracted by overactive imaginations.
And all of their laundry was clean.