It's not about the house.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Here’s the thing – and I might as well just put this out there, because it’s bound to come out eventually anyway (Poppo and Mommie Dearest – and M-C, and everybody else for that matter – I’m sorry you have to find out this way, but here goes):

Johnny has a criminal record.

Now, it’s not as bad as it sounds. One crazy ex-girlfriend who used to like to call the cops on him every time they got in a fight, is all.

(Crazy X, when I first met Johnny, used to call me up drunk and tell me she had a gun and she knew where I lived – I changed and unlisted my phone number, she started calling me at work, sober, to tell me she had a gun and she knew where I worked. So I’m not just taking his word on this. I know from crazy.

I don’t know what he was ever doing with Crazy X in the first place, but I know from crazy.)

So Johnny has a few arrests in his past, and these are the papers we have to gather for the government. Except for nobody can tell us exactly what papers we have to gather. The very official-looking document that the gummint sent us says “Applicant must bring certified original evidence of disposition of any arrest/charge” etc. etc. [emphasis theirs]

I looked on line. I called the gummint. I called the cops. I called the courthouse. No one could tell me what they meant by “certified original evidence of disposition of arrest.” No one even knew what “disposition of arrest” meant. The gummint told me to look it up on line – but not on their website, no, no: on “any decent search engine.”

In other words, the USCIS (a.k.a. the gummint, a.k.a. the Man), when I called them to ask them to define one of their terms that they put on one of their documents, told me to google it.

Which I already had!

Finally I got some woman at some courthouse somewhere to tell me they probably just meant a copy of the docket of the case, and that I could get a copy from whichever courthouse it was handled in. So Johnny and I planned to go next Tuesday – since I don’t work Tuesdays and he doesn’t (ahem) drive and we had to go to Plymouth, because that’s where he lived when he lived with Crazy X.

But then whoops, they gave us a new appointment, and it’s Friday. And we’d already postponed it once. So we went yesterday, in a lashing rainstorm after I’d spent the morning in a dentist’s chair, with the plumber MIA and an electrician we’d never met before working in our house.

I was calm. Sure I was.

Now, before we left I went on line to the website for the courthouse. I called the phone number on the website. I talked to a woman who identified herself as the County Criminal Clerk. She pulled up Johnny’s record on the computer, looked at it, told me there were four violations there, and if I came down she could print them out for me.

“Okay,” I said. “I come to the court house, in the center pf Plymouth there, and what I'm looking for is the County Criminal Clerk’s office?”

“Yes,” she said. And she didn’t stutter. So I went back to the website for the courthouse, and I got directions to the courthouse, and we left.

Now first of all, I went the wrong way on the highway. I won’t go into why – suffice to say I knew that it was wrong but that I had my reasons (I did, okay?) – and we got stuck in stupid zipping-the-zipper-lane traffic going up to where we had to turn around, and then stuck in construction traffic getting back again. Took us the best part of an hour just to get back where we started.

When we got the Plymouth, the directions off the highway weren’t quite right but I figured it out. They seemed to think I had a choice which way to turn, and I didn’t, but they wanted me to turn right, which I did, so that worked out. But the fact that the directions on the website didn’t know how the exit off the highway worked? Maybe that should have been a sign…

We got to the court house, “in the center pf Plymouth there.” We parked the car on the street and walked up the little hill. In the window of the door on the left (but not the door on the right) there was a hand-torn, hand-printed, half-sheet of paper saying “closed. Moved to (some number) Obery Street.” So we tried the right-hand door. It was locked, too.

Obery Street? Where the hell is Obery Street? And what kind of a word is Obery for a street name, anyway?

Thankfully I keep a decent map-book in the car (I love street maps. I think they’re like modern-day magic. I love that you can be somewhere you’ve never been and you can find your way around because the little markings on the page match up to actual things and places in real life. And you never have to ask directions. I’m kind of a guy like that.) So I found Obery Street on the map – Johnny kept insisting we could probably walk there, but he was wrong – and we headed off.

To be continued...

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