Murduh, She Wrote

1 Feb 2008 In: Shopping & Miscellany

I have a confession: when I’m not watching TV shows about volcanoes, Bigfoot or historical events (oh, and Project Runway) I occasionally watch true crime shows on cable.  Don’t judge me.  You see, before kids, true crime TV & books, and re-runs of “Law & Order” were amongst my favorite pastimes.  

But in the past few years, the true crime genre holds less appeal.  Years of watching criminals make the same dumb mistakes over and over has left me feeling frustrated and disappointed in my fellow humans.  With all the forensic techniques available to authorities for coaxing damning evidence out of otherwise innocuous items, there’s simply no room for amateurish, sloppy or stupid criminal behavior anymore.  Some of the more common and, to me, infuriating slip-ups include:

Poisoning multiple spouses

It’s one thing when your 1st spouse suddenly kicks the bucket, but people will be suspicious when your 2nd and 3rd spouses also die under similarly mysterious circumstances.  True crime TV has taught me that when an otherwise healthy individual keels over suddenly – it’s almost always poison, it’s almost always for the insurance money and the perpetrator almost always gets caught.  It’s even more of a no-brainer when the suspect has already hooked up with a new person before their dead spouse’s body is in the ground.  They might as well just walk around wearing an ”I’m the murderer” t-shirt!

Leaving a paper or virtual trail

Dear Criminals,

If you need to resort to Wikipedia to research killing someone, you’re probably over-thinking it.  I can’t tell you how many TV shows I’ve seen where the suspect was caught after police did a routine check of his/her home computer and found all the incriminating evidence they would ever need in the Internet Explorer history file.  Tip: Searching for terms like “How to murder someone without getting caught” will usually send up a big red-flag to investigating authorities… 

Also, when resorting to your local library for help, take the extra step of donning some latex gloves (hellooo- fingerprints?).  And, for God’s sake, don’t check the book out with YOUR library card!  While I applaud your responsible book-borrowing, I think it’s wiser to just bring a notebook and nonchalantly jot down instructions for your preferred murder method.  Then, (and this is crucial) make a point of committing these instructions to memory.  Once memorized, permanently dispose of the entire notebook - not just the page you wrote on.  Remember, paper trail = bad. 

Good luck!

-Your BTCF

Making a statement to the police without a lawyer present 

I learned this from years of watching Law & Order - no attorney present during any police questioning is a huge no-no.  You think you’ve go all the right answers rehearsed, all the details straight in your head, but then out of nowhere, the police tag-team you with some stale good cop/bad cop routine and the next thing you know, your entire alibi falls apart.  Here’s the deal: when detectives start waving their badges, you ask for your attorney.  Simple.  


I think our society has a great appreciation for the entertainment that idiocy provides – think of shows like Beavis and Butt-Head and Jackass, for instance.   Maybe I’m in the minority here but I enjoy entertainment that’s more about inventiveness – inspired creativity.  I think my brain craves the twists, turns and complex moral dilemmas of the pre-Fred Thompson, Law & Order episodes. 

To save this dying genre, drastic measures are needed.  For my part, I’ve written a little perp pep-talk for all you criminal types out there.  Let’s hope this motivates you to think of others (for a change!) when you’re committing crime.  Here it goes:    

“Come on, guys/ladies! Amateurish, sloppy & stupid is so YouTube.  It’s time to challenge those of us who’ve been dedicated fans of true crime for more than 5 minutes, okay?  No more searching Craigslist for a hit man – obvious.  No more Swiss cheese alibis courtesy of your flaky, pothead cousin  – been there/done that.  No more leaving your DNA all over the place – you might was well just turn yourself in to the police now. 

Do you know what your future TV show and book audience is looking for?  Charisma, charm and good looks will score you a People magazine cover, but how do you take it to the next level?  It’s a little thing called project management, people!  If you want to achieve notoriety in this crowded field of Scott Peterson-wannabes and fallen sports heroes, you need to apply some basic organizational skills to the task at hand.  You need to work on your PRiDEPlan, Rehearse, focus on Details and Execute!  And remember, a dose of originality never hurts (or it can if pain’s your thing and you’re using the right equipment).

So, what are we gonna do when the police show up asking questions?  That’s right!  We’re going to call a lawyer.  And, what are we gonna wear when we go to the library to research murder?  Gloves.  Very good.  Now let’s get out there and kill ‘em!”

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…design & build a decent ladies’ restroom?

Aside from the more obvious things like the fact that there are never enough stalls in ladies’ restrooms, there are several other pet peeves I have with the modern ladies’ room.  They are as follows:

The tractor-trailer-wheel toilet paper roll 

These rolls are so large and heavy, that it’s nearly impossible to get more than a square at a time.  Furthermore, the only reason that anyone would put a 4,000 sheet roll of toilet paper in a bathroom is so they won’t ever have to go in there again.  The lack of regular restroom service usually reveals itself in the forced-labor camp conditions with days of accumulated filth, no paper towels, missing toilet seat covers and empty soap dispensers.  With only tissue-paper-thin 1-ply toilet paper squares to work with, we women are forced to morph into MacGyver, fashioning our own rudimentary toilet seat covers and paper towels.

Autoflush Toilets

Dear Autoflush Toilet Inventors,

I, too, find an unflushed toilet to be disgusting and unsanitary, but a toilet that automatically flushes every 12 seconds as I’m sitting on it, providing me with an invigorating spray of cold toilet water on my ass, is similarly disconcerting.  Please just trust that, aside from the occasional fluke, we’re all adults here and most of us can handle the responsibility of flushing the toilet when we’re done.  Thanks.

Automatic Fixtures 

It’s not just the automatic toilets that are bothersome.  Other automatic fixtures fare no better, in my opinion.  Since Oprah and the local evening news fear segments have brainwashed us all into not touching bathroom fixtures, we’re stuck doing “the wave” while standing in front of the sink.  “The wave” is a frantic dance move characterized by wildly waving wet hands.  You’re forced to perform this dance in order to get the infrared sensor on the automatic faucet to recognize that you’re standing there, ready for some cleansing.  With several women lined up at the sinks in a public restroom, it can look like a choreographed excerpt from Dream Girls. 

As if it’s not bad enough that you have to now “entertain” the faucet to get water, you also have to do the dance to get soap out of the automatic soap dispenser.  And, if I can go off topic for just a moment, I find those auto-soap dispensers to be disgusting.  I don’t know about you, but usually when something spurts white goo onto my hands, it’s after I’ve been treated to dinner and a movie. 

Automatic Hand Dryers  

The auto hand dryer is possibly the worst invention ever, as it’s simply incapable of drying hands.  The newest incarnation of this device is the Fujita scale F5 tornado variety which provides a blast of air so powerful that it makes the flesh on the tops of your hands ripple - but somehow leaves you dripping wet.  I don’t get it.  And, frankly, I find their supposed “environmentally friendly” reputation to be more than a bit questionable.  Every woman I know immediately uses a paper napkin, paper towel, or a toilet seat cover to finish the job, thus wasting paper AND electricity.  

Baby Diapering  Stations

A baby changing table is an essential device for any restroom – NOT JUST THE LADIES’ ROOM!  Men change diapers, too. 

And here’s an idea for the baby changing table inventors: maybe you guys can make them out of something more substantial than recycled Dixie cups?  I’ve bought $3.99 plastic lawn chairs from the drugstore that were studier than those things.  If I can’t hang my 5lb Marc Jacobs handbag from it without it bowing under the pressure, I’m certainly not laying my 20lb infant on it.  Don’t make me choose my baby over my handbag…

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Psychiatric Help 5¢

28 Jan 2008 In: Relationships

They say that your character is determined by your response to stress.  So, I decided to learn more about myself by analyzing my reaction to a situation that I’ve found frustrating in the past.  I focused on a recurring situation I have with my husband that I call, “Why can’t we do things according to my schedule?”  

My analysis has shown that this situation typically unfolds in four stages:

Stage One: The Set-Up

I often seize moments such as naptime to take on long-neglected projects such as cleaning out a closet or going through old boxes of junk in the basement.  Proud of myself, I tell Dick what I’m doing and wait for him to congratulate me on my initiative and volunteer his assistance.  

Dick: “That’s a great idea, sweetie.  What can I do to help you out?”

Me: “Well, I can use your help with moving empty boxes up to the recycle bin.”

Dick: “Sure.  No problem.  Just let me know when you’re ready.”

After several hours of scary encounters with basement spiders and enough dust exposure to ensure my future in an iron lung, I’ve got a 7 foot high stack of empty boxes to go out to the recycling bin and there’s been no sign of Dick. 

Me (shouting up the stairs): “I’m ready for your help now…”

Dick: “Help? Hm, uh, I’m in the middle of something.  I can help you in 20 minutes.”*

Me: “Well, I need your help now. I can’t really unpack any more boxes until I get you to move some stuff out of my way.”.

Dick: “20 minutes and I’m there.”

*Note: Estimates are always 20 minutes – never 120, or 5, or “about 20″ – just 20.    

Stage Two:  I’ve been duped

After an hour of gingerly working around the leaning cardboard tower of Pisa in my basement, I venture upstairs to see what the hold up is.  Typically I find Dick doing one of two things, A) playing World of Warcraft, or B) napping on the sofa.  Dismissing his convenient memory-lapse, I try to nail him down on specifics like the exact time, day, date or decade he’ll be available to pitch in.  Dick, always reluctant to commit, estimates he’ll be able to lend a hand in – you guessed it - 20 minutes. 

Not only am I annoyed because I’ve realized he’s pulled a bait & switch on me, but I also know I’m going to need to “get mid-century housewife on his ass”, lest the half-finished project remain so for the next 2 years.  This means I will now pull out my verbal rolling pin – all the cliche, passive aggressive and bullying tactics that my mother used to use on me (unsuccessfully) – and begin clobbering him over the head with it.  In response, Dick employs his evasive maneuvers making vague promises, or worse, throwing another “20 minutes” my way.  Days go by…

Stage Three: The Confrontation

So now, I’m hell-bent on pestering him until he begs for my forgiveness and moves the damn boxes to the recycle bin using only the limbs I’ve allowed him to keep.   Eventually, my assualt escalates into a full-on confrontation – a ranting tirade, really.  

Me: “Why do I have to wait for things to be convenient for you?  After all, I’m using my free time to do important things to improve the quality of our lives. Who knows when we would’ve gotten rid of that ripped pair of green corduroy overalls if it weren’t for me?  Meanwhile, as I’m “slaving away” (a phrase lifted straight from my mom’s script)  you’re up here sleeping, goofing off, or out gallivanting (thanks again, mom)!  In light of my sacrifice, shouldn’t you just cooperate?  Is this too much to ask?” 

Apparently it is.

Dick’s face develops a bewildered, hurt look, or more often, a look of disappointment mixed with annoyance – as if I’d accidentally put strawberry jelly on his PB&J when he’d asked for grape. 

Dick (in a calm voice): “Dear, I don’t understand why you’re so upset.  I said I’d take care of it.  I wasn’t aware that you had a specific schedule in mind.  I’m not sure why you think this kind of hostility is going to motivate me to help you.”

This statement has the effect of rendering me speechless.  Inside my head, my brain is throbbing, screaming, “Whaaaaaaat?!?” in Scobby-Doo’s tell-tale voice of bewilderment.  

Stage 4: The Epiphany

I take some deep breaths.  Initially, I do this so I can launch into yet another tirade, but soon the deep breathing brings me a moment of clarity.  With the pressure released, this is the opening that my superior female brain needs to regain control of the situation.  I begin by asking myself, “Where did I go wrong here?” 

Have you caught the exact moment where I went wrong?  It’s not, as you may think, on my first date with Dick.  That’d be easy.  It’s more subtle than that.  So as not to leave you in further suspense, it was the moment I described the project to Dick.  I never stated my expectation that this would be a “team” project from the start.  Perhaps if I had said, “I think WE should focus on getting those boxes of junk sorted during nap time,” I would’ve provided Dick’s brain with a red-flag warning that says, “Whoa! Wife is scheduling you to participate in something that sounds a whole lot like work. Alert! Alert!” Had I done this, it would’ve at least triggered a negotiation of terms and circumvented the whole infuriating cycle.

But, by representing it as MY project that he could help with, in his mind, I took sole project ownership relegating him to a supporting role.  I made matters worse by never clearly stating my expectations for his level of participation.  Perhaps I would’ve experienced a different outcome if I’d provided a simple explanation such as:

“______ (insert name here), you have been selected to participate in an onerous household task scheduled for today, (insert day & date here), from approximately 1pm to 3pm (insert time zone here).  During this time, you’ll be assigned to the following duties: 1) Opening specified boxes, as directed by me, 2) inventorying the contents, 3) showing me potential items for recycling or disposal, 4) sorting items into their proper categories, 5) once items are approved by me for disposal or recycling, you will, 6) gather them neatly into reasonably sized groups and then, 7) remove said items and their empty boxes to the designated recycling area.” 

I know what you’re thinking.  This is a ridiculous level of detail.  A normal person would understand that they’re supposed to take the friggin’ boxes up to the recycle bin when asked to do so.   Maybe that works for some of you people, but not for me and Dick.  And since I can’t control Dick’s actions, all I can do is control my own. 

That’ll be 5¢, please.

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