Notes From “El Cadete”

By: Tyler Smith

“TIJUANA, Mexico – The police department has issued about 60 slingshots to officers in the violent border city of Tijuana, where soldiers confiscated police weapons two weeks ago on allegations of collusion with drug traffickers.” — Associated Press, November 23, 2006

— Today we were out in the field, forging ahead in the battle against corruption in the streets of Tijuana. This is what police work is all about. It’s us against them; good vs. evil in a truly biblical sense. In the field we can make a real difference. Unfortunately, my partner Juan Pablo forgot his slingshot, and when a gang of overweight 3rd graders took hostages (“Put the carne back in carnicería!” they belched) at a municipal building off the Paseo de los Héroes, they held us at bay with spitballs and Indian rugburns until reinforcements arrived. Nobody was seriously hurt, thank goodness. Juan Pablo thinks he may have a severed prostate from the wedgie he received at the hands of the chubby mob, but I think it’s really just his pride that’s wounded.

— A big scare this morning. A woman came into the station looking wild-eyed, wielding an intricate and deadly-looking blow gun. We all dropped to the floor and begged for our lives. We continued begging into the afternoon, until the woman was tackled from behind by an alert sophomore from San Diego State who explained that his girlfriend must have mistaken our precinct for a day spa, and that the “blowgun” was really just a drinking straw they give you with the yard of beer over at Carlos & Charlie’s. No, but seriously, that straw was crazy.

— Another day of lectures from the tons-of-fun federales. A large man dressed as a harlequin came to the precinct and droned on for what seemed like hours, talking about “sharing,” the importance of it, and how if we ever find any cocaine, we’re supposed to give it to somebody wearing green. After the harlequin explained that the federales would be taking our slingshots and replacing them with “I assure you, very sturdy wooden sticks,” Juan Pablo (it really was just his pride that was hurt, he confessed to me before nap-time) added a little comic relief, making his always-entertaining “farty music,” by cupping his hand under his armpit while flapping his arms. He spent the afternoon in “time-out,” but I think we all agreed the gag was well worth it.

— Went out to the firing range to practice with my slingshot, but had to give it up after a half-hour when I tripped over some Big Wheels power racers and fell keister-over-tea-kettle into the Jungle Babies inflatable pool. Am I cut out for this? I have my doubts every day. I feel I have so much to offer the force, but I fail to make a name for myself. It’s as if I’m invisible, in a way. I am reminded sometimes of the predicament faced by Snuffleupagus, but mostly just because I have a relatively long snout and have been told on more than one occasion that, in the right light, I resemble a woolly mammoth.

— Met a girl today. Luisa. She has eyes like the wild dragon Juan Pablo drew during time-out (along with breasts that also resemble those on the dragon) and a sense of justice and morality that rivals my own. She noticed that I had taken a second helping of cake from the break room and promptly stabbed me through the hand with a pencil. I thought of our great moral heroes, Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa and Ricardo Montalbán, and how they would smile down from heaven, knowing that Mexico still produces brave souls who will carry the torch of justice. I wondered if Ricardo Montalbán could actually still be alive, and moments after I wondered this I passed out from the pain. Much to my chagrin, I awoke in the nurse’s office to learn that Luisa had been held back a year, the federales had confiscated her pencil, and Juan Pablo had once again been targeted by a knot of youths. This time, the ragamuffins forced my partner into a brutal game of “Smear the Queer” in which he was throttled into submission with a frozen block of queso fresco.

— Finally had a moment alone with Luisa in the hall before the bell. My heart exploded in a paroxysm of love and justice as I approached her. “I heard what happened, Luisa. It’s terrible. We must fight together to end this corruption. What’s your phone number?” I asked her. “I need to talk to you.”

“I don’t know it,” she muttered, “and besides, I’m going to marry my Dad.” This bit struck me as odd, but these days, who knows? I am hesitant to continue in my pursuit of Luisa as a confidante, lover and co-defender of justice, for after I ventured to hand her my phone number, she squealed and stabbed me through the hand with a fistful of Pixy-Stix.

— With the prospect of any relationship with Luisa gone, the precinct has become a somber, spirit-crushing place. Full of curiosities, too. Juan Pablo has devolved into a sullen creature who, at any mention of police tactics and/or precinct protocol, picks his nose and eats it. Not to mention, when I approached the commandante concerning my idea to streamline the office memoranda by covering the perimeter of our transmissions with glued-on macaroni and sparkles, he curiously suggested that I “just shut up and play with the finger paints, mongoloid.” I think most of the comandante’s hostility may stem from the fact that in the last week, the superintendent of federales has:

1. Confiscated our sticks.

2. Issued us stones.

3. Confiscated those stones.

4. Ordered us to just use “our words.”

— Morale has sunk to an all-time low here. Juan Pablo has become paralyzed from the waist down after being hit in the pride with three adjectives, a modifier and a burst of double entendres. Luisa, heartbroken by her father’s refusal of marriage, has taken to pouting in a corner, scrawling macabre images throughout a Hello Kitty coloring book, while the comandante feigned a case of strep throat that forced us to endure a substitute with scant knowledge of police tactics and who, I fear, has been stealing my Ritalin along with the contents of my lunchbox. As for myself, I try and take comfort in the little things; eating glue, police justice and kicking back to listen to The Wiggles, who I’ve just been informed broke up over artistic differences. Oh, man. Sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me.

But that’s police work.


My Skateboarding Moves Have Evolved Over The Years

By: Tyler Smith

The Boneless (old)

Ride with back foot on the tail, and front foot in the middle of the board. Slide front foot off the board and put foot on the ground. Jump up into the air with hand holding the toe rail and back foot still on the tail, raising front foot back on the board. Land, typically.

The Boneless (new)

Ride with back foot on the tail, and front foot in the middle of the board. Kick the tail up violently and plummet off the curb in a violent paroxysm. Vomit. Do a Google search: “pancreas burning sensation can they explode?” Throw skateboard into drainage ditch and proceed to IKEA because we just have to have that new trestle table.

The Ollie (old)

Bend knees and press down hard with back foot while lifting front foot. When the tail of the board hits the ground, jump off the front foot and lean forward, guiding the board forward and upward. Land, presumably.

The Ollie (new)

Buy new skateboard and commence shredding. Bend knees and succumb to shin splints, causing a damaging fall, a split lip, and a trip to the emergency room. Curse wife for taking car keys after coming home last night smelling like stripper perfume. Explain that “outings” at Rick’s Cabaret are often necessary steps toward procuring new clients.

Backside 50-50 Grind on Half-Pipe (old)

Ride up the transition and do a high backside kickturn before the wheels touch the lip. Raise upper body and turn. When the back axle touches the lip, stand upright and lift body over the ramp. Turn the board back toward the ramp. Land, occasionally.

Backside 50-50 Grind on Half-Pipe (new)

Ruminate on the once keen dexterity of youth. “Hey, I’ll buy you guys beer if you let me rip your half-pipe.” Sweet. Climb up side of ramp. Look over the edge and panic. Goaded by teens drunk on warm Mad Dog 20/20, I, also drunk on warm Mad Dog 20/20 attempt to drop-in and smash teeth on the side of the ramp. After convalescence, watch self on YouTube get peed on by drunk teens while knocked out from the fall. Embarrass son, who still sees fit to forward YouTube video on to friends and 3rd grade colleagues. Run over skateboard with Volvo. Call about the toilet.

Judo Air (old)

A difficult half-pipe maneuver. After grabbing the nose during a normal backside air, take foot off the board and kick it forward pulling the board backward while the back foot is still on the board. Land, once — when nobody was looking.

Judo Air (new)

What do you think this is, the X Games? I just came do a little “skate and destroy” while the wife is over at the Gap. “Hey, do you kids have any weed? No, you’re poseurs, you little Good Charlotte groupie punks. Give me that board.” Approach half-pipe. Flee at a full-sprint and hope the car starts. With new skateboard, advance to the E-Z-Pawn over by the Panda Express and get some spending cash in exchange for the board. I recommend the orange chicken. “What time is it? Oh, man. The wife is going to kill me.”

McTwist (old)

This crowd-pleaser is another aerial that is essentially a back flip, but while still rotating on one axis, perform a backside 540 while grabbing the toe side of the board with the front hand. Once attempted this maneuver off the diving board at the neighborhood pool using a kickboard and my swimsuit fell down mid-air, revealing my privates. I still have nightmares about this. “You ask a lot of questions, don’t you? No, just forget it, okay?”

McTwist (new)

At neighbor’s BBQ, tell wife — in a high-volume voice — that “the fire is gone” and that she has “turned frigid.” And there’s my friend Curt, who’s like, “That’s what you think, dude!” I could just kill him sometimes. Throw hot charcoal from the Old Smokey in Curt’s face (that’s one of those things where I overreact, but it’s because I’ve had probably like a million glasses of Chardonnay). Catch on fire along with Curt and force terrified guests to toss two grown men into the pool. Wake up nude and wet on new IKEA trestle table. I guess there is no real mention of a skateboard or even a kickboard here, but it really all goes back to the soul of skating, man. Don’t be such a poseur.