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Hard to believe it, but I have not always been the paragon of moral rectitude you see before you today. Back in the day, ladies and gents, I was young and some would say I was wild. Drank too much shitty beer and threw up in the bushes. Drank too much shitty tequila and threw up under the table. Got in fights; got in trouble.
Then I started on my illustrious career as a law enforcement officer, met my then-girlfriend-now-wife. And it got a little harder to find the good reasons to drive with my buddies into the desert with a cooler of Bud for a 'lost weekend.' Big dog started getting tame. And I didn't like it. My buddies would say I was keeping my balls in my girlfriend's panty drawer, and I couldn't really argue with them.
So around that time, I had this thing, this Junior Agent deal. One of those 'team-building' things where they send you off on a junket on the company dime supposedly to learn something or do something, but really it's just a way to get everyone out of the office and talking like human beings. It works, too: you share a steak with someone, you go a little further out of your way to make sure they stay alive. It's that simple.
Anyway, they sent us to beautiful Laughlin, Nevada -- the fat-, poor-, ugly man's Vegas. I guess it was cheap. So we sat through some lectures, talked tactical, 'new' interdiction strategies (find the crap and take it). That was about three hours of the day. The rest of the time was at the tables or some watering hole. So the crux of the story, here, is that I was hanging out a lot with some agents I don't usually and the old urge to get rowdy was coming back hard. Why not? 500 mile rule in effect; what happens in fat-poor-ugly-man's Vegas stays in fat-poor-ugly-man's Vegas, right? Yeah, you can see where this is headed: trouble.
So there's this female agent out of Salt Lake. If you think the Mormons don't have their share of drug problems, man, you'd be dead wrong -- it's everyone and no one's safe. And she's telling me all about it: crazy shit she's seen, busts she's made. I'm throwing down, one-upping her every time I can. This was going on the whole weekend, like a friendly rivalry. But on the last night, we're all out celebrating. We hit the tables, and whaddaya know, I walk away from craps with a few hundreds in my wallet that weren't there when I started. I'm never without a scotch in my hand, cracking jokes that are busting up the whole damn crowd. The old Schrader charm is in full effect. I'm on a streak.
So at some point -- I don't know when or really how it happened -- this female agent and I are doing our schtick, going back and forth: "I busted a twelve-year-old cooking meth in his chem set," "Oh yeah, well, I busted a priest snorting coke off a hooker," yadda yadda yadda. And at some point, I realize it's just us. We're the only ones left at this rooftop bar. It's very late and everyone else has tapped out. River's chugging by down below. Humid as all hell. And it's me and her sitting there, sweating and sticky, but we're both tipsy enough not to give a shit. The whole thing was going this one way. And I was right at the point, right up to it, of making a mistake. I was right there. She was, too. But I didn't. Maybe I should have; maybe it wouldn't have made a difference if I did, but...I didn't. Wiped my face, called it a night. She didn't mind. No hard feelings and I never saw her again.
The point here is: sometimes, occasionally -- and I'm talking about once in a blue moon -- my wife is a pain in my ass. I mean, like a bear trap to the rear end. Sorry, honey, if you're reading this, but I know you could say a helluva lot worse about me. And there are a lot of things that can change in a marriage. Sometimes, they're really not meant to be. People don't want the same things. People change. And sometimes there's just a breath that comes along and blows it all apart. I saw that happen tonight to my sister- and brother-in-law. Saw what happens when the house of cards comes down. And it makes me think, maybe I'm okay with a bear trap on my ass. Maybe, that's not so bad after all.