Thursday, February 11, 2010

Citizen's Arrest

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.

If only.

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.


Work In Progress said...

Awhhh...If you had only grabbed the keys...what a hoot it would have been to see the dork's reaction!!

I wouldn't count on a second profession in law enforcement to pay for those kids college educations! Better stick to doctoring!

Joni said...


I would agree.

John should stick with medicine. And I should give undivided attention to the laundry.

I just don't know what to do with all of the martial arts moves living inside of me.


Emmy said...

You are hysterical! I am laughing SO hard!

Now I want some mexican food!

Joni said...


Let's go to lunch.

Maybe we could make a citizen's arrest together.

Be sure to wear your knee-high boots. : )


ekrisdinger said...

i want to make a citizens arrest! how do you do it?

plus, i am still waiting to hear what ever happened with your cop friend after you crossed the gore!

Joni said...


I'm not exactly sure of proper protocol when making a citizen's arrest. I was just going to wing it...

The gore definitely needs an update. But here's a hint - it did not go my way.


Mom of Eleven said...

Only, only in our town would something like this happen. We produce the finest of citizen's around here.

Joni said...


I suspect that the eating and running takes place everywhere.

Housewives need to unite and exercise their rights to make citizen's arrests.

Instead of COPS we could be called HOPS - Housewives On Patrol.

Who's with me?


Georgia Jan said...

Joni - you are SO hilarious! When I went to Houston with your buddies Emmy and Wendy (and I believe you also know Deborah of the "Twinkle blog), they introduced me to your hilarity.

I love this post, albeit I am sorry for the restaurant's misfortune. The "citizens arrest" is one of my favorite episodes of Andy Griffith.

I accomplished a citizens arrest unknowingly last year. Traffic was stop and go and I "goed when I should have stopped" just barely (emphasis on barely) tapping the car in front of me. I jumped out of my car to be neighborly and check on the woman in the car in front of me, at which time she started yelling about how her neck was hurting and acting CRAZY! I promptly got back in my big red SUV and dialed 9-1-1. I told the operator "we're going to need an officer because I just barely tapped the car in front of me, and the woman has lost her mind claiming an injury - there is NO WAY she could be hurt." (I would really love to hear that tape replayed, not on TV or anything, just for my own personal benefit. I don't want to shame my minister husband...)

The officer showed up, took some information - we sat in our cars, and the next thing I know she was being handcuffed and hauled off in the back of the officer's car. Seems she had some unknowing outstanding warrant something or others.

As I drove off I could not help it and found myself whistling the tune to Andy Griffith with an occasional "citizens arrest, citizens arrest" thrown in, spoken in Gomer Pyle twang...

Love your wit!
"Georgia Jan"

P.S. Did Robin & Emmy tell you I am Beth's BFF?

Joni said...

Georgia Jan-

We need to meet in person for the following reasons:

1. I believe we share a "Scooby Doo" radar that is rare among housewives. It is a talent clearly underutilized.

2. I have never known anyone to make an actual citizen's arrest. I would like to study under your tutelage, sort of the same way Karate Kid learned from the wise Mr. Miyagi.

3. We need to discuss the best manner in which to share the title of Beth's BFF. The Word tells us, " do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous AND WILLING TO SHARE. (1 Timothy 6:18)

I'm just sayin'.