by Matthew J.X. Malady
People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer Ruth Graham tells us more about what it’s like to be pulled over by a highway patrolman sent from heaven.
Just got pulled over by an absurdly hot cop, and he let me off with a warning. #usa
Ruth! So what happened here?
It was the 4th of July, and I was driving alone from my house in rural New Hampshire to join my very best friends at our summer rental in the Catskills. We have been renting this house together (in various combinations) since 2007, and it is my favorite place in the world. There’s a private swimming pond, and we cook big meals and have cocktails and play board games and make jokes and it’s just the best. We got Wi-Fi this summer, which has been a mixed blessing. That weekend there was going to be a much larger group than usual because my friends Alicia and Hugh were having a big co-ed bachelor/bachelorette party. They’re getting married this fall in Cleveland, and I can’t wait for their wedding.
Anyway, I work from home now, and it somehow hadn’t occurred to me that everyone else would have the day off and would have arrived at the house early. It was maybe 6 p.m., and I still had a few hours to go, so I was feeling a little rushed. I moved from New York to New Hampshire a couple of years ago, so now the drive is more than five hours each way.
I had just crossed the border on I-84 into New York from the East Coast’s equivalent of a flyover state, Connecticut (“Here I am at my destination in Connecticut,” said no one). Traffic wasn’t bad, and I was zipping along. I saw the “Speed Limit 55” sign — I’d been assuming it was 65 — at the exact same time I saw the state trooper parked in the median. I immediately knew he was going to pull me over, and then he did.
Once in high school I got pulled over and in a panic I unbuckled my seatbelt for some reason, and then I got a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt. So I always check to make sure my seatbelt is buckled when I get pulled over. There’s this little moment of “OK, pull yourself together, Graham.”
The officer came up to my driver-side window and leaned down, and when I saw his face I almost burst out laughing. It was ridiculous. He looked like Patrick Wilson had gotten into the best shape of his life, acquired the perfect tan, and then put on a crisp New York State Trooper uniform. He did not look like a real human. I was already on edge, of course, and his preposterous good looks did not help.
Hot cop: Ms. Graham, do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: I’m so, so sorry, I really thought the speed limit was 65 here.
Hot cop: Do you know how fast you were going?
Me: Probably like 78?
Hot cop, laughing incredulously (!!): Holy crap, you got it exactly right! That’s like the first time anyone has done that.
Me: Oh, should I have bluffed and said, like, 67?
Hot cop, still chuckling (flirting??): No, no, no.
We had a palpable connection, right? He walked back to his hot-cop SUV, and then he came back quickly enough that I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get a ticket. “See what you get for being honest?” he said, passing me back my license and registration. “It turns into 65 just over the hill.” I thanked him, and I swear we were making sparkly, quasi-lingering eye contact at this point. This is probably a good time to mention that I am happily married.
As I drove off, my body was coursing with the combined adrenaline of avoiding an expensive ticket and flirting with an absurdly attractive man in uniform. “I’ve still got it!” I thought triumphantly. Then I looked down and noticed that my black blouse was visibly dusted with orange spices from the tube of Planters “Heat Peanuts” I had eaten a few hours ago. Obviously that made me question the whole flirtation narrative. Then I also started to think about how even if I did somehow charm my way out of the ticket, that represents a terrible imbalance in our criminal justice system. But it was all nice while it lasted. I drove to the house and told this story around the fire and it was a great weekend.
Aside from his hotness, in what ways was this officer different from other cops you’ve encountered in the past?
Well, he was just so nice! I know I said he didn’t look like a real human, but he acted like one, while still maintaining total professionalism. Though now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I’m just giving him credit for all of this because he was so good-looking and because he let me off with a warning. Ugh, it’s so unfair how sensationally attractive people with senses of humor, good jobs, charisma, and palpable kindness always get the benefit of the doubt.
Lesson learned (if any)?
Pay attention to the speed limit, especially close to state lines and on big drunk-driving holidays. Make nice with cops. Don’t tweet and drive (I tweeted from a rest stop!). Wear a cute outfit while traveling. Take time to enjoy the small, wonderful things that happen all the time. Brush snack dust off yourself before interacting with attractive people.
Just one more thing.
Recently I read about a survey that asked people, “When you see the American flag flying, how good does it make you feel?” It makes me feel extremely good. I am patriotic in an almost instinctual, emotional way. By that I mean, I think I have a healthy understanding of this country’s historic, appalling, even unforgivable flaws, but I also often well up when I hear “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I am strongly opposed to flag-burning laws (remember those??), but I would never, ever burn a flag. I love John Philip Sousa and eagles. I mention all of this to say, the fact that it was the 4th of July somehow gave this little encounter a special aura that made me really happy to be driving by myself on the Interstate Highway System (what a system!) in the United States of America.
So the #usa hashtag was 100% sincere.
Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York.