Even though we live in the Sixth Borough, we live in what most people would consider a small town; it's a community right outside of The Big Apple, where cops can let out their breath for a minute.
Every year our small town hosts a typical carnival-type event, and last year we went for the first time with our son. He was young enough to not know fear, so he went on all the rides, and we left there feeling as if we had touched a small slice of Americana, even if for just a few hours.
This year we went but our child is a year older and a bit more aware. He was not interested in the rides. He didn't even want to walk by some, because they were larger than life to him, and perhaps the things that toddler nightmares are made of...I'm not sure, but either way, I wasn't interested in sticking around in order to figure it all out.
We made a decision to get some ice cream, but on our way out of the carnival, my husband made a quick detour over to the Police Officer who was directing traffic. He showed our son the Officer and told him to wave. The Officer seemed rather excited and waved back, and when he had the chance, stepped off of his post in order to greet my son and offer him a tiny plastic badge.
My son liked this far better than the dinosaur ride that sat right behind him.
He clutched the badge, and yelled in his little boy voice, "Thank You Mr. Police Man!"
We all chuckled.
When we left, I gave my husband a look that only couples that are married great lengths of time can interpret and immediately understand.
"Ah...it was important for him and for that Officer."
I get it.
I always have.
Conversely, I was turning onto our road today and saw the local Police parked directly outside my house, idling there, window down. I may have taken the turn a bit quickly as I pulled up alongside the SUV.
"Did you need me for something, were you looking for me?" I addressed the Officer with my heart hammering in my chest.
"No, but you didn't come to a complete stop just then." He sneered at me.
It took a moment to process his words.
"Oh!" Then it dawned on me. He was sitting outside my house trying to catch people running the Stop Sign at the turn onto my road.
I blinked, then said, "My husband is NYPD. I thought you were serving me a notification."
The look on his face said he didn't understand or perhaps care.
That was fine. I get it. In a small town, running a Stop Sign gets elevated to a level of importance that it would not have in the streets of the Big City.
But he also didn't understand why I did not...could not...pause.
It's that half a second, that moment of not knowing...that breath you just can't get...the irrational urge to scream at him and say, "DO NOT IDLE IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE. EVER!"
So...today was a different kind of small-town carnival.
A sideshow, perhaps.