“The Plymouth Speech” came about one night in Chinatown over gin and tonics while I sat with two of my best friends, Mac and Johnny B., lamenting a failed weekend with a high school sweetheart I’ll call Linda.
“Sweetheart” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there were obvious feelings each of us had for the other. There were awkward, adolescent endeavors over time, but a meaningful relationship never developed—much to the dismay of many of our mutual friends, who had predicted we would someday marry.
The Peace Corps
After high school, Linda joined the Peace Corps and went to South America. She sent cards and letters showing her work with the underprivileged. Eventually, she returned to the states and moved to San Diego where she attended school. She was—and probably still is—an idealistic peacenik.
Meanwhile, I Became a Cop
We stayed in touch, and when I graduated from the sheriff’s academy, she came up to L.A. for the weekend. She went to the ceremony and accompanied me to the class graduation party at the scenic hilltop Castaway restaurant in Burbank with its stunning view of the San Fernando Valley. We stayed overnight at a nearby hotel rather than subject ourselves to a long drive after the party. It was just my luck that a drunk stumbled across our path as I turned into the hotel parking lot.
I stopped abruptly to allow the intoxicated man to stagger by. He glared as if I had done something wrong, or maybe offended him with my presence.
After parking, Linda and I started for our room. But, with my everlasting lucky streak alive and well, we stepped into the elevator to find the inebriated idiot leaned against the back corner. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut, so we exchanged a few words during the ride up. I didn’t expect the situation to escalate, and it didn’t. When we exited the elevator and he remained behind, all was well.
Or so I thought.
It turned out that my date was upset that I had engaged the man at all. That should have been my first clue that we had left adolescence on two separate trains speeding off in opposite directions.
Not long after, I went to visit this young lady in San Diego. The first day was nice; we mostly just hung out at her apartment. On the second day, she suggested we go to McDonald’s for lunch, and we did. When we finished and loaded back into my truck, I removed a gun from my waistband and placed it beneath my leg for the drive back to her apartment. She apparently didn’t know I had carried one, and she was unimpressed, to say the least.
The Art of Manliness
“Why do you have a gun?” she demanded.
“Because I’m a cop.”
“Not in San Diego.”
“In California.” (The bear goes everywhere.)
We argued all the way back to her apartment. I tried explaining that I was a cop, trained to stop bad men, and legally armed to do so. Compelled by my oath to take action when needed. I tried to get her to understand that one never knew when something bad could happen, and I wasn’t willing to take any chances. I wasn’t going to be a victim.
She dismissed everything I said. “That’s ridiculous. This is San Diego.”
We arrived at her apartment in the heat of battle. I went in and gathered my things. We had planned to go out that night for a nice dinner, but I was done. I told her something along these lines:
The Plymouth Speech
“When you and your little preppy college friends are out for a cocktail and some dirtbag drags you into an alley with a knife to your throat and bad intentions, it will be someone with a badge and gun who runs into the dark of night to save you. It’s people like me who risk their lives to protect people like you who deny evil exists.”
This occurred in the early eighties when there were no cell phones. I stopped and, with a gun concealed beneath my shirt, used a payphone in front of a liquor store to call my friends. My message was simple: I’ll be home in a couple of hours, meet me in Chinatown for cocktails.
I desperately needed a drink and some male bonding.
Debriefing in Chinatown
We met at Yee Mee Loo’s, a place I would occasionally enjoy as a change of pace from the Short Stop. Over a cocktail or two, I told the boys my story. When finished, Mac took a long drag from his Marlboro 100 and declared the speech I had delivered to be “The Plymouth Speech.” It turns out, he had delivered a variation of a similar speech not long before, with the added imagery of the sheepdog stepping out of a Plymouth and running into a dark alley to save the damsel in distress.
I’m sure the story has been repeated by others over the years in varying contexts.
What Might Have Been
Shortly after, the San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre occurred not far from where she and I had gone to lunch that day. Twenty-one people were killed, nineteen wounded. Had a good guy (or gal) with a gun been there to stop the shooter, many lives could have been saved. I always wondered if that thought ever crossed her mind, and doubt that it has.
Her words still ring in my head like bells, thirty-five years later: “That’s ridiculous. This is San Diego.”
Some Things Happen for Good Reason
But all is well that ends well. Though it took a while, I eventually landed a real keeper. Twenty-seven years later (at the time of this writing), and the trophy wife is still putting up with me. Also, she gladly packs my piece in her purse whenever necessary.
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Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you will share it with your family and friends!
A GOOD BUNCH OF MEN
DOOR TO A DARK ROOM
THE COLOR DEAD
Death after dishonor
(Coming September 2019)
I had a similar conversation with a girlfriend right after I became a cop. I was carrying a gun in a nearby city where she lived, about 20 miles from my city of residence/employment.
She commented that I had no jurisdiction in her town and my response was rather terse: “I have jurisdiction anywhere I am wearing my damn boots!”
Perhaps it was that comment – or maybe the Hoppey’s No.9 strategically placed at the pulse points-that did it, but the relationship ended that night.
Thanks for sharing, my brother! Stay warm!
Hahahaha Hoppe’s No. 9… the smell of victory!
I remember that night. Dennis imparting words of wisdom over a gin and tonic and a Marlboro cigarette, pausing briefly for effect as he crushed it in the ash tray at the bar. Smoking was still allowed in bars back then. I liked his addition of the Plymouth. It painted a more vivid picture in the days when cops still drove Plymouths. I’m pretty sure it was me who dubbed Dennis rendition “the Plymouth story.” But it’s probably been 30 years since I’d heard that term or thought about that story. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
I think it was you who actually named the speech after Dennis expounded on the story, but like you, I can’t remember for sure. But I do remember and cherish some of those gatherings. Thanks, Johnny.
Another interesting topic.
You can’t win an argument about guns with folks who don’t support gun ownership. Especially with someone who doesn’t think an off duty LEO should have a gun.
Try telling THAT to the family of the off duty officer who was shot & killed in front of them recently in East LA!
I kind of like hanging out with off duty and retired LEOs, I feel safer knowing they are probably carrying, and know how & when to shoot! I live in LA County, so I can’t get a Concealed Carry permit …
Danny, bless your wife for carrying your gun in her purse On occasion! Most women carry enough junk in their purses to cause back problems, & adding the weight of a good quality gun wouldn’t be easy.
Yep, you were lucky to hold out until the right woman came along!
PS Men can be squeamish about guns, too. I had my gun out one morning about 2 to 3 am when we had multiple prowlers in a very rural residential location, knowing that LASD couldn’t respond for at least 30 minutes. Hubby about had an anxiety attack. I told him to be quiet & stay still to keep us BOTH safer!
Haha, tell him to relax, you’ve got this! lol. Thirty minutes?! Are you sure you weren’t in LAPD’s area? (;
Thanks for the comment, Val.
Sorry to hear that Linda is/was one of those people with blinkers on. I live in the UK & wish our police carried guns/ better weapons & were trained right then we would have a lot less crime!
Keep up the good work that you & all police people do.
Thank you, Roger!
Sounds like you dodged the bullet getting away from that chick brother.
I’ve dodged a few I’d say. (;
Ugh, how naive can one get? I don’t carry a big enough purse to conceal hubby’s gun, but I have no problem knowing that he is armed. He is retired law enforcement so I know that he knows how to use it. I thought the speech was a very good one!
Thank you for sharing this; it’s a lot harder to bear when condemnation comes from someone we have feelings for.
True. Thanks, Sean.
You touched on a very, very sensitive topic with your anecdote. San Ysidro Massacre. I researched that event a decade ago, and it was not easy to see what a lunatic with a full-auto Uzi and Czechoslovakian armor-piercing 9mm ammo did. A lot of people don’t understand how things can change in an instant, and the San Ysidro tragedy destroyed a whole community in 77 minutes that day in 1984.
With that being said, the SDPD seriously believed that they could negotiate with the gunman, while the shooter kept reloading and shooting. Personally, that is why the LASD is an example of doing policing tactics right. Had this tragedy happened in East Los Angeles or Lennox, LASD would have engaged the perp and ended the nightmare in mere minutes. The SDPD only fired 4 shotgun rounds and one rifle shot from the adjacent Post Office during the entire incident. In L.A., it would have ended very differently. The 1986 Swat Shootout that accidentally got a hostage killed, while unfortunate, is an example of how police officers have to react to a crime in progress, with tactics and force. In Los Angeles, the police and deputies don’t mess around.
California has gotten worse since the 1980s and 1990s. Realignment I and II have diluted punishments, and homeless with serious mental illness roam the streets ready to attack innocent people. L.A. and S.D. county jail is now in essence the only real place that can offer mental help to the homeless. Parks and sidewalks are extremely unsafe for anyone to walk at day or night. You are a lucky man in being able to have a loving wife that allows you to carry a firearm for protection. May you have an awesome week, and a safe Halloween! ?
Thank you, Raul!
better to offend someone than compromise your personal ethics and commitment to your chosen profession. Let someone else get dead for being unrealistic and unprepared. Not us my friend.
You sound like a guy who trained me at Firestone.