Almost Arrested in Solvang

Daddy/Daughter Fun Time is feeling nostalgic.

Did I tell you about the time I almost got arrested for domestic abuse in Solvang? Funny story.

In 2009, we went on a camping expedition to Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County (two hours north of Los Angeles) with Julianna’s pre-school class. It was on a beautiful lake in the middle of nowhere.

In the pitch black darkness at 11 o’clock…

One of the mothers was escorting children to the bathrooms a quarter mile away. Holding both hands with the kids, she stumbled and fell face-first onto the roadway.

Patty (not her real name) needs to go to the hospital. Her face is a mess. Who can drive her? She’s bleeding!

Among the still-awake, word spread quickly. Around the fire-pit, no one offered. The bottles of Fireball Whiskey and Tequila and something smoke-able and God knows what else had made the rounds.

Who can drive her? Everyone looked at each other. (not me… not me… not me…) And, then,

I raise my hand.

When I am the most sober person at a campfire in the middle of nowhere after the smores and the tall tales and the bourbon, you know there’s going to be problems.

I volunteer to take Patty to a hospital 45 minutes away in Solvang, on uncharted roads. (The guard says, drive 20 miles that way, then 10 miles this way, then 8 miles. Then left. Don’t miss it because no U-turns for 15 miles on the totally deserted 2-lane road. Yeah, right.)

Angela (actually, her real name. Also a great name for a story like this) comes along cradling Patty’s head wrapped in a towel.

I haven’t even started telling this story, and look how enticed you are. And here is where it begins.

Act II:

Someone gave us a Garmin GPS device, because it was the Dark Ages before they were standard in-dash items. “In 12 miles, left turn ahead…”

We arrive at the hospital around 12:30.

Walking in are Patty, Angela, and me. Patty has a bloody towel covering her face.

Now, the Solvang Santa Ynez Hospital Emergency Room doesn’t get a lot of action, even on a Saturday night. Maybe a heart attack once in a while. The occasional weapons discharge.

But, one thing I’m sure they get a lot of cases are: Domestic Abuse.

We all walk in, Angela is holding Patty. I come in a few steps after.

The nurse/receptionist notices the bloody towel and asks what is the problem.

Patty says, matter of factly: I fell.

The nurse’s eyes dart at me like sabers.

The nurse calls the doctor.

Nurse: She fell.

Doctor: She fell?

His eyes dart at me.

And, I’m like… What the fuck. Yeah, she fell. And, I’m doing my civic duty, helping a friend in need. Angela is not the Sister Wife. If Vincent didn’t blast through half a bottle of Jaegermeister, he could have brought his own damn wife here. But, I did it instead. She simply fell.

I’m the hero.

The doctor insinuates: Well, we’ll see.

He nods to the nurse, who picks up the phone. I couldn’t see the number she called, but she only tapped three numbers. The first one may have been a 9.

The doctor takes Patty and Angela behind the screen. I am shown to the waiting room. I don’t know exactly what questions the doctor asked Patty. I’m sure some of them included: Did he hit you? Did he push you? Did he hurt you?

And, none of: Was he the soberist guy around the fire pit talking about William Mulholland and the waterways that get water to Los Angeles. (Yes the topic du jour before I was called away)

It takes quite a while for the ER doc to gently pull the gravel and dirt and schmutz out of Patty’s face, and stitch up.

Apparently, Patty and Angela answered true enough that the patrol car turned around and headed to its next meth lab.

When all was said and done, Patty thanked me vociferously for my help. At 2:30am. She said that the nearest ER plastic surgeon was 30 minutes away in Santa Barbara, because it was her face and all.

I volunteered to take her, because my night was already busted. But, “No,” she said, “you’ve already done enough.”

And, I’m like, Dude… I didn’t get arrested yet. Let’s go to Santa Barbara!

But, I was actually very sleepy.

We rolled back to the campground around 3:30 a.m. With a story to tell…

Liberty Mutual

Facebook passive-aggressively asked me “Season’s Greetings! What’s on your mind?”

Then, “Let your friends know if you are feeling festive.”

I am not. And, this might put me on some Watch List. Because, I read 1984, but I am not a natural-born revolutionary.

Topic: Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials.

Dear Liberty Mutual, I do not have a car named Brad. I am not driving on 3 wheels. And, I understand that my car depreciates before the first oil change. Because, I effing read the policy before I signed it. I am not standing in front of a green screen with the Statue of Liberty behind me. And, that island park that I am supposedly standing on with the sea gulls and the boat and the waves… Do you have a snorkel because I’m pretty sure that I’d be swimming in the bay. And, now, it looks like I’ll have to endure another year of your horrible commercials. The only thing missing is a gekko. Someone, get me Flo on the line. I know I’ll be in good hands with her. That’s prudential. Huh? Wait… What?

Am I the only one?

LA Snow Day (of sorts).

In Los Angeles today, nearly 700,000 students and tens of thousands of teachers and staff were sent home with no warning because of a terror threat. Even after some kids had already arrived at school and moms and dads were already into their obligatory weekly staff meetings, with the PowerPoints and the donuts and the Starbucks boxed coffee. Literally, millions of people were affected.

I know you are dying to know how this affected me. (I’ll try to not waste your time.)

For my non-LA, NY, Chicago friends, 700,000 people is probably many times the size of your city. And, I’m just talking about kids. Now, they are all (or at least 2 of them) making impossible demands in my kitchen: No! I hate peanut butter! She hit me first! She won’t help me! Daddy, you’re fat! I’m soooo bored! I want a waffle even though I know we don’t have any. Daddy, can I sing my new song to you? And can I play the violin? Can I have the iPad? Can I have the iPad? No Fair! Why does she…

Never mind Mommy and I have work to do.

When I was a kid back East, a snow day was a fun time when my mother would wrap me in way too many layers (like the little brother in A Christmas Story) and send me out with a sled for hours and hours of fun.

I’m not quite sure what to do with a “terror” day.

And, if you suggest going to the library… We tried that. Hipster dude in front was tripping on whatever the kids trip on nowadays. He was dancing and shouting and dancing some more. He ended up face down in the dirt. I told the librarian. She called 911. The girls saw it all.

Still, I guess it’s better that the girls are (reasonably) safe at home if there’s a credible, yet unverified threat. Because, Sandy Hook was not verifiable.

Now, if they’d just get off my back. (I mean that literally; One is climbing over me to get to the TV remote.)

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy

Our girls’ hippie school keeps asking open-ended, outside the box essay questions that I wish my teachers had asked me when I was in school. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

“Judging from behavior, how can you tell if a fish is male or female?”

I’m chomping at the bit with my sixth-grade, comic Gold answer: “They all must be a female. Because, none of them pee standing up.”

Punnily enough, Julianna (she’s 11) won’t take the bait. Though, I guarantee that’s the answer they’re looking for. I would have rocked at this school.

Tire Change Breakfast

So, our van has a busted tire. Chunks out of the sidewall. Lynn says I must have hit something. Other than that damn squirrel, I think “no.” Nothing that would cause that much damage. I’d remember that. But, I didn’t drive the van last Saturday night. I wonder who did. (Dun-dun-DUUNN!)

Fingers are pointed. Puzzled looks are shared. Conspiracy theories are hatched. Made-in-Hollywood Headlines are generated. The passive voice is used. (That’s for my English-major friends…)

But, honestly… It doesn’t matter. The tire is busted.

I take it to the Costco for replacement. Road hazard, they tell me. Under warranty. They pro-rate me 50% on the 3 year old tire. I am Ok with that.

How long? Umm. About an hour, hour and 15.



Surely, there’s a nice, neighborly breakfast place nearby. Let me walk down Victory Blvd in beautiful Burbank, CA. Yeah, no. Umm… No place to eat. Nothing but apartments.


Let’s me swing down to Burbank Blvd. “Hair’s Where You Wanna Be!” Or, something. “Otto’s Auto Autopia.” Tongue Twister. Also, redundant. No food. No dice.

9:05. Nothing.

So, I U-turn it, and head back to the only land of breakfast civilization that I can find.


McDonalds. Big Breakfast. With the greasy hash browns. WiFi. It’s a small place. I sit near the bathrooms. Hell, the whole place is near the bathrooms. I’m Lovin’ It.


I cross the crazy-multi-intersection back to Costco. I see that the van is still in the bay. So, I kill time by actually, you know, shopping in Costco. (Hint, the doors open early Post-Thanksgiving. Most people are lined up for returns…)

I pick up some bananas, pigs-in-a-blanket. Bottle of egg nog. A couple of those. Chips.

I pay the lady, get the exit-door guy to mark my receipt, then I see my van pull out of the bay. I show the dude my paper work, and I get in and drive away.

But, I’m left wondering… Surely, there’s got to be some decent breakfast place in the neighborhood. Near the 5. Victory and Burbank. Near the Costco. I come by all the time, just not usually in the morning with time to kill. This was my chance. And, now… I’m afraid I will never know.

Where do the people eat?

(And, now the Burbank Chamber of Commerce will flood me with freebies… Let’s see. Let’s hope.)