On a summer night in the early 1970s, two Salt Lake County sheriff’s deputies questioned me in connection with a reported aggravated assault.
The deputies had dealt with me before — vandalism, burglary, possession of alcohol, etc. So when it was reported that I attempted to shoot someone, it seemed credible.
Naturally, I told them it didn’t happen. The investigation consisted of a search of my car, efforts to determine my whereabouts at a certain time and several unofficial threats if they could eventually prove otherwise.
Whatever official report on this particular exchange, if such exists, is probably in some dusty box in a forgotten county archive. It’s possible that it might be discovered by a thorough search and made public.
I’ll just come clean now. I am guilty of everything they accused me of that night but couldn’t prove. I offered to shoot a guy — let’s call him Lump — because I said something he didn’t like.
Note: I don’t recall what I said but readily admit that it was probably insulting. It sounds exactly like something I would do.
Anyway, on the night in question, Lump and a couple of his equally thick-necked friends spotted me and pulled into the parking lot as my friend Hep and I were coming out of the store.
I really sucked at math but was nevertheless capable of simple arithmetic. Lump was nearly twice my size, stronger and faster. Meanwhile, I wore glasses, weighed a buck fifty and regularly tripped over my own feet even when I wasn’t — well, you know.
Lump emerged from his car and headed toward me in a rage. He stopped when he saw I had a handgun.
The change in the equation generated some discussion. First, there was Lump’s assertion that the gun probably wasn’t loaded. A loud noise directed at the sky disproved this claim; whereupon he demanded I put the gun down and “fight fair.”
Since I didn’t see what was fair in letting someone twice my size beat on me until he was satisfied, I said the gun was just a way of adjusting the odds. After all, he hadn’t seemed to mind when they were all in his favor.
Instead of fighting (or getting shot), we went our separate ways. I dropped off Hep, ditched the gun, and got jumped by the cops as I pulled into my driveway.
All of this occurred in what I call “B.C.,” or Before Computers. I can only imagine how different my life would be today if I hadn’t been able to later pretend/lie that such a thing — and a bunch of other stuff — had never happened.
Unfortunately, those who were born A.C. (After Computers) have a track record of some of the crap they did when they were too young, stoned or smart enough to know better — bad grades, traffic offenses, credit ratings, job histories, divorces, etc.
They have to drag that mess with them through every attempt to move on and improve their lives. Some things people do should be public if for no other reason than society needs protection. But should all our lives be completely open books?
Due to technology, very little is private these days. And it probably isn’t going to get better. Living up to our potential is almost impossible when an overly judgmental society in the present requires that we constantly live down our pasts.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.