There was a time in my less mature columnist days that I would have been elated to see a front page headline such as the one that appeared in this newspaper last Thursday: “Lovers Busted in SUV.”
In case you didn’t see it, a few quotes from the story will bring you up to speed.
“The Huron County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at 7:39 a.m. Wednesday.” Someone had heard “a woman moaning in the (parking lot of the nature preserve) on West River Road, north of Wakeman.”
A major from the department was dispatched and “thought he’d find a person who was having a heart attack.” Instead, “two people were having sex in the back seat of the (sport utility vehicle). ‘The window was down. That’s why you could hear them,’ the deputy said.”
He cited the 19 year old man and 18 year old woman — who live at the same address in Wakeman and whose names were listed in the story — for public indecency but did not arrest them.
Yes, I would have had some fun with that one in the old days.
But now I find myself with mixed feelings.
Among these feelings is an uncustomary embarrassment for the couple along with a certain amount of understanding and a teenie bit of admiration.
Allow me to explain.
If you have not already done so, picture the scene.
It is 7:39 Wednesday morning! And this couple is already out and about. It is not even peak fall color yet and these two nature lovers have driven a couple of miles from their in-town home to enjoy the local nature preserve.
Yes, I have questions. For instance, why were they not at work? Is neither of them employed? Or do they perhaps work the night shift and enjoy the nature preserve on their way home? Or are they, pardon the expression, laid off?
And just how loud were they? As I recall, the nearest house is a few hundred yards away. For someone to hear moaning sufficient to inspire a 911 call, there was some genuine excitement in that car. You have to admire that.
Of course, we have to also credit the sheriff’s deputy for his speed in getting to the scene where he thought he might have to save someone’s life.
He undoubtedly had his lights flashing and siren wailing the entire way. I say this because I have seen this behavior from sheriff’s deputies in a rush to get to things not nearly as important as an individual possibly dying from a heart attack.
So, presumably there was quite a show of lights and noise as the sheriff’s car approached at full speed.
Even so, it must have taken at least a few minutes for the major to get where he was going.
But somehow, despite the fact that a person in that SUV had already been in full 911-call-inspiring moan several minutes earlier; and despite the fact that Maj. Englund’s speeding cruiser with siren wailing could be heard from miles away in the peaceful nature preserve; despite all that, the couple was STILL having fun when the deputy approached the open window of their vehicle. Now that is really enjoying your Wednesday morning.
Note: I am discounting the entire notion that the deputy might have approached quietly and without flashing lights which is the voyeuristic way bushwacking teens of my era would have done it. No, this man was rushing to save a heart attack victim. He would have been in a noisy hurry. So I commend his diligence on that score. But I wish he had handled the situation differently.
I mean, really, how publicly indecent was this couple. It’s not like they were out on a picnic table or something.
And I know from personal experience how boring life can be in Wakeman. If you can find a way to have fun there on a Wednesday morning, I say go for it. In short, I think the deputy should have cut this couple a little slack, especially if they don’t have cable.
My perfect outcome would have been for the deputy to have been less legal and more avuncular.
For instance, I could see him arriving at the rocking SUV, discovering what really prompted the 911 call, smiling and saying something like: “Phew! What a relief! You kids scared the neighbor and me to death. We thought somebody was having a heart attack.
“Now I am sure you know this parking lot is not the place for what you two are doing. I suppose I could write you up for public indecency or something, but I’m afraid if I do the newspaper might run it as a front page story with your names and everything. Think how embarrassing that would be. You would never live it down.
“So why don’t you just get dressed and go on into Sterk’s for a nice breakfast.”
See what I mean about me as a more mature columnist?
In the old days I would have made fun of this whole thing mercilessly.
But now, as you can see, I have set aside my old tendencies toward irony and satire. Now I just want what’s best for everyone.
Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached vie email at email@example.com.