Lessons in Lindsanity: Or, How to Wear Orange with Grace (August 3, 2010)


Lindsay Lohan’s release from a Los Angeles jail at 1:35 AM yesterday morning, after serving just 13 days of a 90 day sentence, annoys me.

Please tell me how this woman will EVER learn her lesson? And by “lesson,” I do not mean that the hopeless train wreck should have been “scared straight” by her days in the clink, nevermore to find herself on the wrong side of the law. None of us are naïve enough to expect that, and in fact I look forward to the evidence of Lohan’s recidivism with relish. This is, after all, her second trip to the pokey at the ripe old age of 24.

What Ms. Lohan should have learned by now after a dizzying amount of arrests, lawsuits, and video images documenting the rampant drug habit that only she and her mother are delusional enough to deny, is how to besmarter with her lawbreaking. And please Lindsay, if you can’t manage to do that, and insist on sporting “fuck you” nail polish to court, at least have the wherewithal to expect the book to be thrown at you.

But it’s clear, against all logic, that Lohan was genuinely shocked to discover that the laws of the little people also apply to her. Thus the widely circulated You Tube video of Lindsay’s sentencing hysterics on July 7th. This reminds us of the equally humorous “Mommy, it’s not fair!” ejaculations unleashed on the court by Paris Hilton three years ago, before she was hauled away pursuant to a DUI conviction, for a brief stay in the same jail.

Would I be totally perverse if I welcomed the increase in she-celebrity incarceration as evidence of feminist gain? There was a time, not too many decades ago, when ladies were deemed too “soft” to handle the psychological and physical torments of jail, particularly members of the well-to-do crowd. Small crimes committed by women were thus either covered up or ignored, and this might have been fine except for the maddening and condescending implication that female criminals were not self-aware enough to comprehend their actions. Those of us who want equal rights must not cherry pick the situations were they should apply. Therefore, I truly applaud the fine work of the L.A. court system, which has made inmates out of not only Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, but also Nicole Richie, Michelle Rodriguez and a host of other bad girl celebs.

I am pleased to say that Richie and Rodriguez took their lumps like the tough girls they are. Lohan and Hilton, as we have already affirmed, not so much. The pathetic lack of fortitude displayed by Lohan throughout her two-week stay in the Big House, punctuated by late night wailing, catatonic despair and the ironic continuation of the drug abuse that landed her there in the first place (Adderall and Ambien among the list of approved “medications”) leads me to dislike her more than the thoughtless and dangerous actions that warranted the initial attention of the 5-0. Though I will never be proud of my own visit to jail in the summer of 1999, I can at least satisfy myself with the certainty that when trouble and I found each other, I dealt with it as a chastened adult.

Before being picked up in the small town of Kentland Indiana, on August 9, 1999 – the day after my 21st birthday – I often wondered what I would do if the moment arrived. If I found myself in hock with the law, would I panic and break down? Kentland (population 1,822), part of Newton County, outdoes Mayberry in stereotype, with its stated distrust of “big city folks.” While driving back from a weekend celebration in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I was pulled over by a Conservation Officer (whom I dubbed “Fish Cop” behind his back), who actually had to call in another patrolman with the authority to arrest me. It is, my friends, a fine thing to have to filibuster and make small talk with the man ruining your day, while he waits for the authorized cavalry to come slap the cuffs.

Because I had just turned 21 and was, by any measure, a complete moron, I was breezily speeding down the highway at a clip of 80 MPH while simultaneously smoking a “happy birthday to me” joint. I was but minutes from the Illinois border, en route to the University campus at Urbana-Champaign, a place where the marijuana laws were much more forgiving to students such as I.

My bad luck to be picked up in Indiana. My worse luck that I had just come from a shopping spree at a renowned head shop in Michigan. When the fish cop asked if he could take a look in my trunk, this is what he found: an 1/8 ounce of weed, a six pack of beer, incense, a new and unused gas mask, three bowls of all materials (glass, wood and stone), and a brand new water pipe (more commonly called a “bong,” for those of you who actually studied in college).

Thus when Fish asked me to pop open my trunk, tipped off as he was by another motorist, I had no recourse other than to approve his request. Unlike Lindsay Lohan, I was not however, taken aback when I found myself snugly encased afterward in a pair of form fitting silver bracelets, and led to the back of a squad car.

I wish I had a copy of my mug shot for posterity but the Newton County jail is pretty stingy about souvenirs. This bad humor did not however stop a bunch of officers from posing jovially with the armloads of contraband they had snatched from my vehicle. They even had the bad taste to enjoy themselves in my line of vision as I was printed and booked. Abu Ghraib anyone? I have oft suspected that not all the “evidence” found its way to the locker that evening.

I cooled my heels in jail overnight, before my angry and embarrassed mother came to bail me out the next morning. My cell mates – three prostitutes and a crack head – could not have received me more cordially had it been their own parlor, rather than county lockup. They handed me the best reading material in their possession, and informed me of the unlimited calls I could make. Things definitely could have been worse.

In the end, I paid a $1000 fine for my indiscretions, and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. After a full year of good behavior, my probation period ended and my record was wiped clean. Know why? Because I kept my nose clean (pun intended Lohan!) and didn’t make myself more annoying to the law than I already had. I finished school, paid my debt to society and most importantly of all, didn’t cry about it. I had been caught red handed. What was the point? I won’t say I never smoked pot again, but I sure didn’t indulge while operating a moving vehicle. Lesson learned.

Making a lot of noise over my deserved punishment would have made it that much harder for myself and everyone I loved to put the incident behind them and move on. Do you hear that Lindsay? It’s called taking responsibility. I owed those who believed I was on my way to life as a hardened convict, the strength of character to bear my sentence with a modicum of composure.

I wish she had served the full 90 days of her sentence. Maybe that extra time would have served to break and humble her, which is really what a situation like this requires.


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