For starters, the first question is why was this beautiful young couple wandering around a pumpkin patch on their romantic interlude? How about a fun game of miniature golf and some spooning?
(Psssst. Mr. Columnist. You’re dating yourself again. Miniature golf is no longer a young girl’s dream date and they don’t call it “spooning” anymore!) Whatever.
The case is officially logged into Torrance County court records as Perky Purloining Pair Pilfering in the Pumpkin Patch. The media hasn’t had so much fun since Sunland Park city government turned into a really bad reality show.
The front page newspaper picture, a bucolic shot of the pumpkin patch, has an inset photo of the criminals, Lauren and Matthew. You should see these kids, both University of New Mexico students. The picture would be perfect with one of those Valentine hearts traced around the frame. She’s a knockout, innocence personified. He looks like he could have played an altar boy in an old Bing Crosby movie. So you have to wonder, where did their parents go wrong?
Their flirty outing took a horrible turn when each walked out with a $2 pumpkin pilfered from a display case. Lauren told the court, “We weren’t there to steal.” Yeah, right! Hanging Judge Steve Jones of the Moriarty Magistrate Court wasn’t buying that. He sentenced them to 40 hours community service.
To get some insight to the Pumpkin Patch Plot we put in a call to Rory McClannahan, editor of the Mountain View Telegraph, the world’s absolute expert on this criminal caper. Rory covered the trial last week and his story ran on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal and more extensively the next day in his own newspaper.
“May I ask who’s calling?” the Telegraph staffer asked. “Yes, it’s Judge Jones,” I lied. That’s called a “little white lie” made necessary by the fact Rory has alerted his staff to tell me he is out.
“Oh, it’s you,” Rory said. “I’m kind of on deadline.”
“You guys in Moriarty are such wimps,” I said. “You let those pumpkin kids get away without even calling the SWAT team.”
I won’t print Rory’s response, this being a family newspaper and all. His overriding point was, “I am so tired of Moriarty being the butt of jokes. Listen,” he said, “if you shop at Wal-Mart, buy $75 worth of stuff, and steal a 25 cent pack of gum, you tell me they won’t nail you?”
That ended the conversation. I shut up right there. Rory McClannahan is absolutely right. That innocent mix-up happens to me All. The. Time.
Once I went down to Wal-Mart to browse wide screens. But first I had to pick up a small bottle of aspirin, two chapsticks, and breath mints.
So, of course, I showed up in the electronics department with no free hands. I put the chap sticks in my left pocket, the aspirin in my right, and the breath mints in the back pocket.
Sure enough, as I headed out the door that “petty thief alert” loud enough to wake up sleeping hogs in Tulsa summoned store authorities as I tried to make my getaway … I mean, exit. Wal-Mart was quite understanding but I have since found it useful to wear dark sunglasses and a baseball cap turned backwards when visiting the store.
And I visit it often, this particular outlet being located on the highway where I have volunteered for 100 hours of clean-up.
Lauren and Matthew are probably hurting a little right now. But as years go by they will come to appreciate the wisdom of the judicial system. You get away with stealing a pumpkin, next thing you know you’re going for a cucumber, maybe some rutabaga.
There’s a downward spiral and then some dark night Lauren is backing a pickup to the fence and Matthew is loading watermelons into the bed. Be grateful your life got turned around, kids. And find yourself a miniature golf course. Caution: You can’ take the putter home.
Ned Cantwell – ncantwell @bajabb.com=– is the guy wearing the hooded sweatshirt in the mall.