Ruminations on the Time the Police Came to My Apartment and I was in the Bathroom With No Pants On

July 25, 2008

The time has come to tell the story of the time the police came to my apartment and I was in the bathroom with no pants on. It is an important story for several reasons. First, it showcases the fact that my ex-boyfriend – we’ll call him Matt – brought out the absolute worst in me. Not a great foundation for a relationship. Second, it encapsulates the essence of my life in San Francisco with Matt. The other reasons are probably only interesting to me, so I won’t waste time.

Matt and I had been living in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco for a little over a year. When we made the decision to move in together, I knew it wasn’t a good idea. I knew that we weren’t compatible anymore, if we ever were to begin with. But I had to get away from my family. I had been being choked with responsibility for far too long. I wasn’t equipped to look at the situation rationally. In light of this, I told my family I was moving 400 miles away on a Monday and said goodbye to them four days later.

We won’t talk about how my car broke down on that Friday when I was only 100 miles out of Los Angeles or how, seeing that I strongly believe in signs and omens and don’t dismiss anything as a mere coincidence, I knew at that moment I was making a mistake. We won’t talk about that because this is the story about my second run-in with the SFPD (the first was for drinking in public on Mission Street. Which was not fair because I had only taken one sip of the beer I had bought from a liquor store literally two minutes before said run-in).

The incident in question occurred on a relatively good day. I say “relatively good” because it was a day in which Matt actually agreed to do something with me rather than staying home watching the Food Network or spending hours text messaging the hot girl from his Starbucks. We met some friends in Dolores Park, my favorite park in the city, and played travel Scrabble, drank sangria in thermoses and laughed at the ever present Speedo-wearing sunbathers who never seemed to get any darker despite their best efforts. After, I suggested (since we were already out, making it a perfect opportunity for such suggestions) that we get dinner at the deep-dish pizza place on Valencia that I had heard delicious things about. Matt agreed, on the condition that I buy. This was a condition he invoked infinitely more often that I would care to remember. I assented because the alternative would have been to go back to our apartment, where I knew I would be subjected to Iron Chef all night.

At the restaurant, we drank Pabst. Classy. I recall Matt going to the bathroom and not coming back to the table until right before the pizza came out. I was within view of the facilities and that is how I know that he spent that time chatting up each female in line for the women’s restroom. I’m not the jealous type, but manners seem to dictate that one should chat with one’s own dinner date for more time than strangers in line to pee. I was tipsy by the time the food arrived. I didn’t much care about Matt as we ate. The delectably deep-dish pizza, in those ten blissful minutes, had done more for me than he had in a year and four months.

I paid. It was cash-only. I was upset that I actually had enough cash in my wallet for once to cover our bill. I’m fairly sure that Matt was over the legal blood alcohol limit when he drove us home, but I can’t be positive. We should have used the breathalyzer in his glove compartment, a birthday gift from me, but I didn’t think about it at the time.

When we got home, I opened a bottle of wine. It was Tempranillo, a Spanish wine I had recently bought at Rainbow Grocery, the co-op that bans all meat products from its stock and sells sunflower seed oil by the ounce. An hour later, we finished the bottle and went to bed, but I was in a talkative mood. I asked Matt if he liked me. This was clearly a loaded question. For many, many months prior, I had lain awake at night waiting for my sleeping pills to do their job and one thought had persisted: Do I even like Matt, this person I’ve been sharing a bed with for a year, this person who hates books, orchestrates events entitled things like “The First Annual Beer Olympics” and tells me not be so serious all the time? I knew the answer. But it wasn’t enough to uproot my life again, admit defeat and hear my mom say, “I told you so.” I was too proud, too stubborn.

“Yeah, I like you,” Matt said. “When you’re buying me dinner.”

I was offended. And drunk. A potentially explosive combination.

“That’s a rude thing to say.” I felt my indignation rising. I’m a naturally non-combative person. That quality is how I survived living with my mother for so many years. However, Matt was the first boyfriend who ever hurt my feelings enough for me to actually get mad.

“All my friends say I should break up with you,” Matt said. “They think you’re a bitch.”

And that was all it took for me to snap. Fuck you, I thought. I’ve been wanting to leave for months and you’re the one talking about breaking up? On top of that, Matt knew that the bitch comment would get me. I’m usually painfully shy upon first meetings, a quality that many people misinterpret as either snobbery or bitchiness. Matt knew I worried about this constantly. Matt was a jerk.

I jumped out of bed and channeled my mother. While this should be the best part of the story, it can’t be because I cannot recall anything I said. What I do remember is Matt’s hand over my mouth trying to silence me. What instead happened is he covered my nose at the same time and I couldn’t breathe. This made me more upset, obviously.

I escaped from his grip and ran into the living room. We lived on a second floor apartment, but I wasn’t worried about the neighbors. They didn’t worry about me when they had horribly loud, obnoxious sex at six o’clock every morning.

“See, this is what they’re talking about,” Matt said. I hated him. So much that I located my mostly-full water bottle and heaved it at his head.

Unfortunately he has good reflexes and ducked in time for the water bottle to hit the window and break the blinds. It made an unexpected racket.

Now Matt was chasing me around the apartment. The tiny kitchen had two doors, one at either end, which I kept slamming to obstruct his route. It was 12:30 a.m.

Somewhere in this chase Matt caught hold of the gray pajama pants I was wearing and I fell face-first into the floor. I wriggled out of my pants, ran to the bathroom, locked myself in and promptly began crying, not so much at what had just occurred, but at the fact that I had so many chances to leave but didn’t because I was so lazy.

Looking back, I think I must have been in the bathroom for about fifteen minutes. I had stopped crying by the time the knock came.

“Police. Open up.”

I hoped Matt wouldn’t open the door. What would the police do if he didn’t? Knock the door down?

I heard the door open. Fuck, I thought.

“What’s going on here?” one of the cops asked.

“My girlfriend is out of control,” Matt said. “She was throwing things and slamming doors.”

I looked in the mirror. I already had bruises up and down my arms from when I had fallen.

“Where is she?” a cop asked.

“In the bathroom.”

Five seconds later, a rap at the bathroom door. “Police. Open up.”

More than anything else in the world, I did not want to exit the bathroom. This is not what should be happening to me, I thought. I should be listening to Jenny Lewis and arranging Gerber daisies in a vase. I should be at a dinner party. I should be with someone that loves me at this moment.

“I don’t have pants on,” I said. “I’m not coming out in my underwear.”

“Where are your pants?” the officer asked.

“I have no idea,” I said.

“Open the door,” he said.

“No.” There was no way I was coming out half naked. I didn’t even know how many police officers were in my apartment.

Another knock on the door. “Here,” said Matt.

I cracked the door open and grabbed my pants. I put them on and walked out of the bathroom.

There were four cops standing in the living room. Four. What had our fight sounded like? I wondered. A murder?

“Did you throw an object at this window?” an officer asked me, gesturing to the broken blinds.

“Yes,” I answered, deciding lying would be too draining. I was so tired.

“Did she physically hurt you?” the officer asked Matt.

Matt paused for a moment. He looked at me. I knew he wanted to say yes.


“Are you sure?”


“Was there alcohol involved here?”

“A bottle of wine,” Matt said.

“Maybe that should tell you something,” the officer said.

“Yes, sir,” Matt said.

“Maybe,” I said.

“You both need to learn restraint,” the officer said, gesturing to his colleagues. “Especially in the middle of the night. Your neighbors aren’t happy.”

“I know,” I said.

The police officers left. I felt horrible. Matt went straight into our bedroom. I stayed in the living room packing my belongings into boxes.

I actually ended up moving out a week later. But the time the police came to my apartment and I was in the bathroom with no pants on definitely marked the day I couldn’t ignore things anymore.


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