originally published March 25, 2012
It’s Sunday morning. St. Patrick’s Day was just over a week ago. You got drunk, sure, maybe to the point where you vomited, maybe even upon someone’s lap. But you didn’t really take advantage of the spirit of the holiday.
You didn’t get arrested.
You didn’t really commit an affray.
I’m not talking about the HMS Affray, the British submarine that was lost at sea in 1951, taking 75 crewmen down with her. No, I’m talking about the criminal offense. Perhaps you’re familiar with it.
Affray refers to the unlawful fighting of two or more people in a public place, to the terror of innocent bystanders. Perhaps you’ve seen this in a thousand or so films. Does this sound exciting enough to you?
If you’re swinging a cattle-prod wildly in a subway station, intent on destroying a specific foe but clearly endangering the lives (or at the very least, freaking out) those around you, you have committed an affray. Maybe you grabbed that flame-thrower Uncle Jerry gave you last Christmas, and you decided to surprise your unfaithful spouse with their on-the-side other at the local Chik-Fil-A. That would be an affray.
Maybe affraying isn’t for you. You want to experience a drunken night in a cell for doing something crazy, but a fight which endangers bystanders (for which you will probably also be charged with assault, rioting, or something else drab and pedestrian) is just a little too heady for you.
Maybe you should try blockbusting.
If you’re a real estate agent, blockbusting is when you convince white people to sell their homes at a loss because the ‘coloreds’ are moving into the neighborhood. You could lose your license for this, but who cares? You want to dance on the dark side of the law. You have no moral hang-ups like ‘decency’ and ‘self-respect’. This could satiate your hunger.
If you aren’t a real estate agent, then ‘blockbusting’ probably just means renting a movie. That isn’t a crime. Unless you don’t take it back, I guess.
Have you considered fly-tipping? No, I don’t mean leaving a little extra for the local insects when you eat at a cheap diner, nor do I mean the weak man’s equivalent of cow-tipping. Fly-tipping is the act of illegally dumping waste somewhere other than an official dump, at least in England. This may not carry quite the visceral rush of an affray, nor the potential financial gain of blockbusting, but it’s an effective middle finger at society, if that’s what you’re after.
If you’re not entirely mentally stable (and really, why should you be?), you may want to consider obsessive relational intrusion. This is like stalking, but with someone with whom you have a previous relationship. Call up that ex-girlfriend three, maybe four hundred times. Print off tiny pictures of yourself, cut them up to make you-shaped confetti, then blanket her lawn with them. Or better still, her bedroom. Create a cardboard cut-out of her, have obscenely kinky sex with it, videotape it, then hack into her phone so that she sees it every time she checks her messages. I’m sure you’ll win her back!
Here’s another fun crime you can try if you’re in the UK: Happy slapping.
Just the name alone implies a perfect fit for 8-days-past-St.-Patty’s wackiness! Happy slapping is when you walk up to someone (I think you can run too, it doesn’t say), and smack them while someone else records it on their iPhone. The media has tainted this crime somewhat, labeling manslaughter, rape and sexual assault situations as ‘happy slapping’ when a camera has been present. I think you should stick with a slap, the real spirit of the crime.
This came to light in English schools. Really, it strikes me as a logical extension of bullying. Why bully someone and walk away when your buddy can record the act and post it to Youtube so that you can enjoy it again and again? A girl tried this at a Denmark school and spent eight months in prison. In France, happy slapping can get you five years. In England, a teenage girl was recording the beating of a man – actually, it turned out to be a fatal beating – and she got two years. Maybe this isn’t the best crime for your post-St.-Patty’s act of rebellion.
You could always try cony-catching. That’s the act of conning pedestrians, though the term hasn’t been used since Elizabethan times in England. Maybe that one would be a bit tricky.
It could be that you’re shooting too high, trying to find something on the books that they can charge you with that’ll give you some street cred. Maybe you should lower the bar, accept that your late-March hangover just won’t give you the oomph you need for some happy slapping or a good, honest affray. How about mopery?
Mopery, as defined in a 1970 Columbus, Ohio verdict, is defined as “loitering while walking, or walking down the street with no clear destination or purpose.” I myself have broken this law. It may be the easiest law in the world to break: just pop on your shoes, step outside, and walk. Don’t know where you’re going? Good, you’re now a criminal.
In the film Revenge Of The Nerds, mopery is described to young Booger as exposing yourself to a blind person. You can certainly incorporate that if you wish, but it’s not necessary.
So many crimes, only a thousand words to play with. Crimen injuria sounds like a complex and painful Latin torture technique, but it’s actually a South African crime in which you impair the dignity of another person. Somehow they have managed to extend this crime from uttering racially offensive language to road rage to sexually assaulting children. Wow.
It seems to me that pretty much any crime, whether you’re happy slapping a classmate or blockbusting an unsuspecting mark, impairs someone else’s dignity. I think crimen injuria is a little too broad to be a crime.
I think the best way to honor the holiday of drunken crime that you let slip away from you eight days ago is with some lotoko. Lotoko is a kind of moonshine made from maize in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to the way it’s made the alcohol content can be well over 50%, and the act of brewing it in the Congo is illegal.
I don’t think any crime better befits a late St. Patty’s Day crime spree. I wish you the best; please don’t call me for bail money. I’m heading down to the mall to cony-catch some tourist rubes.