Busted for nothing by a 5-year-old

A writer friend of mine asked me about the most dangerous or crazy thing my sons had done. Although my memory doesn’t come with a guarantee, I couldn’t think of a single thing, other than their not allowing enough prep and travel time, which sometimes strikes me as crazy.

Then again, crazy in retrospect, and in the moment, was the time my son got me handcuffed on our lawn in Minneapolis. I suppose it was dangerous, too, because the government goon who put the handcuffs on me had a large pistol. The one with him also had a large pistol. I didn’t, which is one reason I was handcuffed on my own lawn.

I had an armload of laundry when he rang the bell and ordered me to drop it and come outside with him. So I did. Goons are fearful, paranoid, and well armed, so I listened as he put the cuffs on me behind my back and had me kneel on the grass.

He told me that someone had called the special number from our phone and then immediately hung up. That is why men with guns wanted me to kneel on the lawn in handcuffs. The government just wanted to check things out.

By this time the other agent had learned that one of the several children inside the house had called the special number to see what would happen. My 5-year-old had learned about the special number at his government school, apparently decided that not knowing what would happen if he called the number was in itself an emergency, and dialed it.

I suppose that’s when he realized that there actually was no emergency and he had nothing to say, and so hanging up was the logical next step. He was right, and that hang-up led to me kneeling on the lawn in handcuffs.

As the damp from the lawn chilled my knees, a couple of neighbors drifted over. Then Janice showed up and asked loudly for an explanation. This was all many years ago, back when you could ask a goon a question without risk of bodily harm and prison and expect a civil answer. As he released me the goon said that whenever a “Nine eleven hangup” happens a couple of agents go to the house—they can find out where you live—and put handcuffs on whoever comes to the door. No matter what else they might decide to do, standard procedure is to put cuffs on the schmuck who says hello. We didn’t believe them either.