My Fair Junkie: Amy's Day in Court

By Amy Dresner 10/19/17

For the first time since I can remember, I feel really committed to something. I am committed to never getting arrested again, which means staying sober and controlling my temper.

Cover of My Fair Junkie by Amy Dresner
A select excerpt from Amy Dresner's new memoir.

The following is excerpted from MY FAIR JUNKIE: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean, with permission from Hachette Books, a division of Hachette Book Group. Copyright 2017 by Amy Dresner. All rights reserved.

My court date is coming up and I’m only half done with my community labor. I’ve heard from my other fuck‑up friends that a first extension is easy to get. However, my lawyer has long since abandoned me, so I’m doing the self-service legal thing now. I have no idea who my judge is or which court I’m supposed to go to. Trina, my bail bondswoman buddy, gives me my case number, and I call the courthouse. Turns out that criminal cases are no longer heard at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. I have to go to Airport Court. And a new judge has my case, and—praise Jesus—it’s a man. This is good. Men like me better.

Still, I’m nervous. If the judge, for whatever reason, chooses not to give me an extension, I go to jail.

“Call me tomorrow after court and let me know everything went okay,” Trina says.

“Yeah, I’ll be calling you. Either to tell you it all went fine or to ask you to bail me out . . . again.” I put on my hippie shirt (it’s the most court-friendly thing I own) and drive down to Airport Court. I really feel like I’m going to have a heart attack. Why do I always think it’s a good idea to drink a five-shot latte and vape my brains out when I’m already nervous? So fucking stupid. I call Linda and cry briefly on the phone with her.

“What if the judge doesn’t give me an extension and I go to jail?” I whimper.

“That’s not going to happen,” she says calmly.

“How do you know?”

“It’s going to be okay, I promise.”

“If he’s having a bad day and throws me in the clink, will you come visit?”

“Of course.”

“Will you smuggle little bags of coke up your vaj like they do in the movies?”

“Whatever you want.”

I hang up and look at myself in the rearview mirror.

“You got this,” I whisper.

I wait my turn in the long, crowded line at the building entrance.

My bag finally goes through the X‑ray machine, and I walk through the metal detector unscathed. We’re good to go.

I take the elevator up to the fifth floor and enter the courtroom. I sign in with the bailiff and sit down and wait for my case to be called. I’m fussing with the papers I brought: a letter from the rehab saying that I was in treatment for seven months, the paper that proves I completed the year of domestic violence class with stellar ratings, and my sign‑in sheet from community labor, showing that I have completed about 120 of the 240 hours of community labor. A full-blown debate starts waging in my head: You should have brought a bag of clothes and stuff, in case you go straight to jail.

Okay . . . no . . . that’s ridiculous; this is the first extension, and I’m half done with the hours. But really . . . what if you go to jail? Your car is just on a meter. Oh, come on . . . I’m not going to jail. I didn’t even violate the restraining order. But look at it from the judge’s point of view: even though you were in treatment for seven months, that should have been enough time to do all the community service.

OMG, would you shut the fuck up?

Just then, they call my case. I nervously scramble up from my seat. I can hear my heart pounding in my ears.

“You’re here for an extension, Ms. Dresner?” the judge asks. He’s an older man, with white hair and glasses, narrow face, calm demeanor.

“Yes, Your Honor. I was in treatment for seven months and I have a signed letter from the rehab. I have completed half of my community labor and all of my domestic violence classes.”

“May I see the papers?”

“Yes, sir.” I hand the papers to the bailiff, who brings them up to the judge. The judge pulls his glasses down the bridge of his nose and looks at the papers. He nods and hands them back to the bailiff, who returns them to me.

“How long do you need to finish the community labor, Ms. Dresner?” the judge asks me.

“Four months should be fine, Your Honor.”

“I’ll give you six. See you then, Ms. Dresner.”

“Thank you.”

I smile politely, and as soon as I walk out of the courtroom, I punch the air.


But hold on a minute there, Ms. Misdemeanor. Just imagine if the judge was having a bad day? Say he got a parking ticket, or his hemorrhoid flared up, and he had said no to your extension. You’d be in jail again. Just like that. It seemed terrifyingly easy to get caught in the sticky web of the legal system. And without money to hire yourself a crooked, ruthless lawyer, you are seriously fucked.

For the first time in my life I feel determined. Determined to finish something. I am taking full responsibility for the consequences of my actions, and although it isn’t easy, it does feel good. Well, “good” probably isn’t the right word. I don’t feel like hiding from the world under the protective tent of my long rocker bangs. I don’t feel like shoving a chopstick into my eyeball when I look in the mirror because I am such a spineless junkie piece of shit. Hey, maybe it isn’t Tony Robbins’s style of transformation, but it’s a step in the right direction. And for the first time since I can remember, I feel really committed to something. I am committed to never getting arrested again, which means staying sober and controlling my temper. Again, it is a start. I wonder if all those years that my parents had bailed me out and “saved me” had really saved me at all. Maybe their patience and generosity and love had just prolonged this necessary and painful learning curve.

You know that saying, Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me? Well, for me, it’s more like Fool me three hundred times, Hell . . . lemme take one more crack at it. I guess I am just one of those stubborn assholes who has to burn their house to the ground to realize you shouldn’t play with matches.

Want more? Find My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean at Amazon and other retailers. Follow Amy Dresner on Twitter.

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Amy Dresner is a recovering drug addict and all around fuck up. She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012. When she isn't humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she's freelancing for Refinery 29, Alternet, After Party Chat, Salon, The Frisky, Cosmo Latina, Unbound Box, and Psychology Today. Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books. Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.