June 29 - July 5, 1995

Letting It All Hang Out With The Symington Whiz Kids.

B y  J e f f  S m i t h 


FINALLY J. FIFE Symington has done something of which I can wholeheartedly approve.

I'm not talking retroactive birth control here, nor even a change of address to something in a 10017 zip code, either of which would be too generous a beneficence to hope for. The wonderful thing Fife Symington did was he took a leak al fresco and got busted for it. What a nice, human touch from one to the manor born.

Alas I'm not talking Gov. Fife Symington here--I have no reasonable expectation that he will do anything worthy of praise in this incarnation--I refer instead to his son and heir, J. Fife Symington IV. And younger son, Scott (Is that all?) Symington. And a couple of their friends, one of whom actually has a first name ending in a vowel.

These four worthies were espied in Scottsdale recently, practicing dust-abatement techniques in a dirt parking lot next to a building near a busy commercial center. Two of the local constabulary were on bicycle patrol when they spotted the Symington lads, along with Peter Moser, 26, and Alejandro Canelos, 25, emerging first from a car, and shortly (no pun intended) thereafter from the flies of their trousers, whereupon they proceeded to exercise what we in rural environs refer to as "the gentleman's prerogative."

Scottsdale's commercial districts are not, however, rural in nature, and indeed have ordinances proscribing such natural and salutary practices. Local businessmen have been complaining about such outlawry and thus the long arm of the law has been cracking down on the short arm of the antsy-and-away-from-home. You can imagine how much that hurts.

I can go your imagination one better. I myself was cited some years ago for a similar offense. I say "similar" only because the citation written me at the time (about midnight) and place (against the back wall of the late, lamented Manhattan Lounge in downtown Tucson) accused me of "criminal pollution." The Symington boys were popped in broad daylight and charged with public urination, which seems a much more honest and direct penal approach to the problem.

While I was indeed urinating, and was indeed in public--if you insist on defining public as standing back-to-the-world in a darkened corner of a deserted parking lot on a moonless night, behind a notorious bar in a part of town nobody in his right mind would be caught dead in after dark--the City of Tucson was of too delicate a sensibility to identify the act for what it was. The legal rationale for the prohibition was that peeing in the parking lot, or anywhere outside the porcelain confines of a code-approved plumbing fixture, would ultimately pollute the aquifer from which the community imbibes. (Never mind that a former Prime Minister of Pakistan did, as part of a prescribed health regimen, recycle his own urine, orally, almost until it came out like table salt. Normal urine is, by the way, a sterile fluid. You could look it up.)

At any rate, the officer who wrote me the ticket explained to me the moral and practical implications of my actions, while I zipped up and produced my identification from my hip pocket. I was still among the two-legged at the time. With his flashlight tucked under one arm to read and write by, he illuminated my mind with the awful possibilities of contaminating all that fossil water, so many hundreds of feet below the pavement where I had peed, and then exclaimed excitedly, "Hey. You're the guy from the newspaper. I read your stuff all the time."

"Wonderful," I said, as he continued writing, undeterred. "What do you plan to do about all the dogs and cats and chickens and horses and so on, that pee on the ground every chance they get? And worse."

He had no comment on that, nor did the judge who heard my case and laughed at me, not for bumbling into so bizarre a legal predicament, but for violating the first rule of defense, which is that an attorney who has himself for a client is a fool. He pronounced me guilty and suspended the fine, which was fine by me, since I owed an actual attorney friend of mine, who had coached me (poorly) prior to my court appearance, two lunches at El Charro for his services.

I expect Fife Fourth and Scotty to be better represented when they stand before the blind eye of Justice. I wouldn't be surprised if Daddy pulls a few strings. This is not to say the boys will get off scot-free. Dad might want to teach them a little lesson, if not in law then in etiquette.

Lads of proper breeding, with three or four given names preceding the family handle and roman numerals after, do not simply void themselves at the first call of nature, nor in front of the hoi polloi. They seek a proper, private setting where a gentleman of color will have the water running at precisely the right temperature when they are relieved, and hand them a fresh linen towel. Four bits is an adequate gratuity.

You wouldn't catch J. Fife III waggling his cutie out where the sun might shine on it, would you? Heaven forfend.

That's what hotel rooms are for.

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June 29 - July 5, 1995

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