My First Run-In with the Police State at Age Nine

Bob White, the game warden
Bob White, the game warden

The serious man in the uniform was giving me a lecture, and as usual when I was getting a lecture, my mind was wandering.

“How cool is it,” I wondered, “that the game warden’s name is Bob White? Did he become a game warden because he was named after a quail? And isn’t it interesting that Bob White has white hair?”


I was guilty, of course, so I respectfully pretended to listen. It seems it is against the law to fish in a state fish hatchery. I had often stopped at the little ponds to watch the trout swirling. Like the mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg I realized that I wanted to catch fish not so much because they were tasty as because they were beautiful, so I carried my canvas bag from my newspaper route, filled it with water and put the trout inside.

Then I pedaled like crazy to my uncle’s pond and let them go. “Blah, blah, blah,” said Bob White sternly. “Just get to the punishment part,” I thought. My cousins were standing around, enjoying not being the ones in trouble for a change.

“Those trout belong to the people of the state of Connecticut,” Bob White said. “I am a people of the state of Connecticut,” I thought.

“What do you do with the trout?” I asked politely. “We turn them loose in rivers and ponds,” he answered. “But that’s what I did,” I pointed out.

Bob White seemed to have run out of things to say. Just then my uncle arrived. He was not at all intimidated by uniforms and began teasing poor Bob White mercilessly. I eventually wandered away, unpunished.

I collect descriptive names like Bob White, the game warden, Woolman who raises sheep, Wordsmith the writer, but this week I saw what may be the best one yet, if only for the subtlety. This Major General is in charge of military security in Iraq, which is going through extreme military insecurity as I write this. And his name is:

saad maan

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