An employee of Island Prime Steakhouse on Harbor Island Drive called to tell me about an event there, a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The event was called "Lock Up," and it would begin at 10 a.m., when volunteer police officers would pick people up at their places of business and bring them to a makeshift jail in the restaurant. "Prisoners" were given striped shirts, mug shots were taken, and they were told to get on their cell phones to ask friends to bail them out by donating to the MDA.I wondered what these people being "arrested" said to their bosses as they were dragged from work.
I listened as they made their calls. Some were nervous as they made pitches to friends and clients. Others were funny, confident speakers. One guy said, "Well, if I don't raise the money, I guess they'll let me out on probation. But if I get just $200, that covers a clinical diagnostic exam. We need $600 for the MDA summer camp." The guy wrote down a Visa number, rang a bell, and everyone applauded.
I spoke with Emily, one of the MDA representatives, and she told me that it's $65 to fund just one minute of scientific research and $100 for a support-group session. (No wonder Jerry Lewis keeps doing his telethon year after year.)
They asked me to make calls, but I bug my friends and family enough for Make-a-Wish donations. I couldn't hit them up for another charity.
As I listened to one guy struggle with his calls, I wondered if he'd walk away from this experience with sympathy for the telemarketers he hangs up on. I asked him that later, and he said, "No, I'll still hang up on them. They harass you during dinner, and it's usually to buy crap. This is for a good cause."
I felt guilty eavesdropping on the phone calls. I heard one guy say, "Listen, I've been arrested, but I'm innocent, I swear."
I watched as a blonde KUSI reporter knelt down to interview a kid in his wheelchair. I wondered if the people talking on their phones were going to ruin her sound bites with this boy.
She told him after the interview that he did great. He gave her a big smile and went back to his table.
A guy was walking around giving people massages as they made their calls. The lady walking around with him asked, "Josh, would you like a massage?" I said, "Uh, from you?" The guy smiled and cracked his knuckles. I declined. Emily said, "This is the luxury version of jail. People are offered chair massages."
There was one guy wandering around who I made small talk with. He said, "That's great that they use these volunteer officers for this. I think they should use female cops as well." When I asked why, he went into a long rant about how women shouldn't be police officers and how the police force lowered the strength tests for women to get in because they couldn't pass those tests. He then said, "If two big rednecks are fighting in a bar, and a short female cop walks in, do you really think she'll be able to get control of the situation?" I replied, "Well, a gun and a badge usually gets attention."
This guy was getting angry, so I stepped outside. I saw people putting make-up on young girls. The girls looked to be around 8 years old. I followed them inside, and they prepared to do a hula dance. They were beaming with excitement about their upcoming dance. When they made it into the other room, I couldn't see anything, as there were too many parents surrounding the area. I overheard one parent say, "The exotic dancers were wonderful."
I watched as one lady had her mug shot taken. She said, "Oh, good, I'll put this up in my office." I said, "If only Mel Gibson would've had that positive attitude." She held up a sign that said "Innocent."
When one guy was being photographed in jail, his cell phone went off. One of the cops said, "A cell phone in jail?" Out of nowhere came the grumpy guy that complained about female cops. "I hate everyone with their cell phones. You can't enjoy a quiet moment at the beach without hearing one. At restaurants, people feel the need to shout into them. And, instead of a normal ring like phones used to have when I was a kid, it's some goofy song I don't even know." I said, "Are you familiar with 'My Humps'?" He said, "I'm not. Did you get humps from having muscular dystrophy?" I said, "No. It's a song by the Black Eyed Peas." He yelled, "What does that have to do with anything?" I told him it's a popular cell phone ring and then got away from him. I felt as if I was avoiding the bully in a real jail who I was afraid might shank me in the back with a handmade knife.
A few women sat down at my table as I ate. MDA employee Rachel Carlile talked about the organization. It was tough to look professional and attentive as I scarfed down my food. I noticed she had a tattoo, and I asked her what her parents thought of it. She said she was the youngest in her family and that they weren't thrilled. She called her friend Tiffany over. Tiffany told me that she was an actress and a singer. She talked about her recent divorce and all the improvements she made to her home. I laughed as she told me about her skill with a circular saw.
Tiffany hasn't been in anything I've seen, but her sister is the actress that replaced Gillian Anderson on X-Files and played the character Pudge in the '80s film Shag. Tiffany said, "We were eating in Beverly Hills, and these two women came up with southern accents and were saying 'It's Pudge!' My sister isn't too fond of being called Pudge."
What woman would be?
Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.