Our laws can be confusing. It sometimes takes a squadron of different judges, juries and lawyers several years to decide beyond a reasonable doubt if someone broke a particular law. Even when a suspect is caught red-handed he might just admit to a “mistake of judgment”. Then there are those who are adept at bending the laws and forming loopholes.
Most of us are occasionally guilty of trying to get around an inconvenient rule or regulation. A friend told me his doctor ordered him to walk two miles a day to get back in shape. “Two miles! It was very difficult,” he told me. “I was exhausted at the end of those forced marches, but then, luckily, I found a shortcut. I could tell the doctor I was still doing three laps in the local mall, but I didn’t mention I was cutting through the food court every time.
I admit to bending a rule back in high school when the dress code mandated neckties for boys. We weren’t used to neckties and felt like we were being strangled. My voice actually went to a higher pitch, approaching falsetto. We boys had a meeting and decided on a solution. We word neckties at half staff beneath turtleneck sweaters.
Before that I was one of the many kids avoiding the 25-cent admission fee to our beloved Palisades Amusement Park. That was during the Depression and a quarter was a lot of money. A kid could spend an enjoyable afternoon in the Park’s Fun House for a dime. I’ve heard since that the Park’s owner realized the fee was a hardship for kids so he left a small opening in the back fence. All we had to do was scale twenty feet of rocky cliff high above the Hudson River to reach the breach. We considered it part of the adventure of a Park visit.
Around that time I was talked into trying to scheme my way into the local movie house. Kids’ admission was ten cents, but I had only a nickel so I asked my older brother to lend me the difference. “That won’t be necessary,” he said. “Just tell the manager if he’ll let you in at half price, you’ll watch the movie with one eye closed.”
I was young enough and dumb enough to believe that might work, but the manager just laughed out loud and said, “Okay, kid, but if I see you opening that other eye during the movie I’ll have you arrested.” I left for home. I would have enjoyed seeing Laurel and Hardy even with only one eye, but I didn’t want to risk going to jail. The next week I showed up wearing an eye patch, but that didn’t work either.