by Kent Sterling
Not getting arrested in Bloomington during Little 500 weekend is a lot like not being caught by a grizzly bear chasing a group of campers, you don’t have to be fast, just don’t be the slowest.
Avoiding police attention during the Little 500 weekend that started in earnest last night does not require sobriety or or a resistance to acting like a fool. You just can’t be the drunkest or the biggest idiot.
Friends used to bring gallon jugs of screwdrivers into the race because people tend to doubt audacity. Security knows what a hidden flask looks like, but few suspect a group of 20 students each carrying a gallon jug filled with what appears to be orange juice would be bold enough to have emptied a fifth of Popov into each.
Our impudence grew over the years to finally include fake credentials that boasted our status as “special provosts,” and during our final appearance, ushers escorted us to a special entrance so we could avoid the line.
Over the years, friends who had trouble with the law were those who earned it. One drank himself stupid, wandered from the group, and found his way to Sembower Field. Too drunk to locate the gate or successfully climb the fence, police arrested him as he slept in the middle of center field.
The consequences for acting stupid rarely involved the police for our friends. A broken ankle after falling in a ditch, some bumps and bruises after doing donuts with an RV in the Memorial Stadium parking lot, random nudity, and hurt feelings of those we either directly or inadvertently insulted were the worst of the collateral damage because we maintained reasonable limits or so far exceeded the limits that authority was mystified into inaction.
Nothing in all of this to be proud of, but there are lessons learned through many years of experience that may be of some use for those in Bloomington this weekend hoping their fun does not come with a price any steeper than a groggy and wasted Sunday.
Here are some rules of the road to keep yourself and others safe:
- Don’t be “The idiot.” If everyone in the room or at the race is watching you do something, you are the idiot. Being the idiot will get you mocked and then arrested. Laughing at others is a lot more fun than being laughed at, so either don’t be a moron, or surround yourself with people even more moronic than you.
- Do not drive after drinking. Period. Not only will you likely be arrested, you will put lives in danger. Lives are ruined because of the choice to drive while addled. Everything in Bloomington is walking distance, so walk or if you are lazy – call a cab. This weekend should be about laughs and fun, and driving drunk results in tragedy far too often to be fun.
- No fights. This was never a problem for us because the fun ratio for fighting is always out of whack. Only the psychotic laugh as they fight, and if you can’t laugh at it we didn’t want to do it. The police are really in the business of keeping people safe, and nothing threatens the immediate safety of drunken college students quite like punching each other.
- Always have an exit plan. If you are at a huge and loud party, at some point the cops will find it. As you exit, do not run. Walk confidently in the opposite direction of the police presence, and under no circumstance mouth off to them. As a primer in this arena, watch an episode of “Campus PD.” Runners and loudmouths are always the first targets. If you look like you are doing nothing wrong, police tend to leave you alone.
- Never host a party. When you are the host, you are responsible for everyone and everything. That is a jackpot to avoid. Being responsible for yourself when you are 22 is a full time job. Responsibility for a house or apartment filled with drunk and energetic guests is destined to end in misery.
- No selfies of moronic behavior. After an arrest, selfies are called evidence. Prior to an arrest, selfies posted on social media can be called probable cause. Nobody wants to see pictures of themselves wasted. Resist the urge to document everything – or anything.
- As always, treat people as you would like to be treated. Take care of one another, and if reason takes a holiday for a friend, encourage a long nap.
- If you are famous in Bloomington – like a basketball player – do not try to get in Kilroy’s Sports Bar with a fake ID. This is especially true when the media is reporting that excise police are everywhere in town for the expressed purpose of catching underage drinkers.
Part of a college education is learning where societal boundaries lie. I have been there, tested the strength of the life’s fences, and made it through unscathed. Of course, all concern for being arrested can be avoided by abstaining, or leaving Bloomington for Little 500 weekend. People smart enough to do that require no counsel. This post is for those who still enjoy being in the middle of a beer and sweat soaked crowd as they bounce through a weekend of indulgence.
Little 500 Weekend should be the World’s Greatest College Weekend, but great doesn’t happen in the Monroe County lockup.