“NCIS,” “24,” “Hawaii Five-O,” or any “CSI” you prefer — the alphanumeric wave of overseas detective dramas has been flooding through the cable TV portal for years now, leaving Japanese living rooms virtually afloat with villainy.
“Victims, suspects, witnesses, detectives, perps, DAs, crooks, felons and conmen — it seems the English-speaking world has no normal people at all! Everyone flirts somehow with crime!”
“No,” I tell my wife. “You left out all the extras, parading around in the background. All they flirt with are expanding waistlines and lousy program selection. With the only terror in their lives coming from cholesterol.”
Not what she wants to hear. For she is enamored of mysteries and loves the intrigue of a world where mayhem might lurk around every corner.
So there she sits before the tube — almost every night — with her electronic dictionary on and the Japanese subtitles off, soaking in the colorful language of law and lawbreaking.
Has it affected our lives? Well . . .
“Someone has eaten one of the chocolate chip cookies I baked. How do you plead?”
I look up from my coffee. “Who? Me? I’m innocent.”
“I baked those for my students. Now I won’t have enough. Someone will sit there cookie-less. Making this a most anus crime.”
The kitchen quiets.
“Um. I think you mean ‘heinous.’ ” And then I spell it.
She consults her dictionary. “Oh. So that’s what they’ve been saying. It’s all so much clearer now.”
“And I did not touch your cookies.”
“I found a partial print on the dish. And I see what appear to be cookie particles on your mustache. Forensics will surely prove me correct.”
“That’s coffee creamer. See?” I lick it off. “And you can’t touch me without a warrant.”
“If I were you, I’d cooperate. It could be the difference between ‘Cookieslaughter 2’ and ‘Reckless Snackicide.’ “
I raise my hands. “Where is your proof?”
She then says our son told her that I had remarked on the aroma of the cookies while they were in the oven. And he states I then made elaborate sounds of euphoria.
“Like this . . .” And she sticks out her tongue and pants like a dog having its belly rubbed.
“And you were in the house with the cookies alone all afternoon.”
“Circumstantial! I never left my study.”
“And I suppose someone can corroborate that alibi?”
“Sure. I was . . . chatting.”
“. . . The Emperor. Go ahead. Ask him.”
Her face brightens. “Ah, no alibi then! You had means, you had opportunity and you had motive!”
“And what motive is that?”
“You are a chocoholic! Oh woe the miserable addict, desperate for his fix!”
Now comes that point in every show where the defense attorney upsets the applecart.
“So why then would I pilfer one of your cookies when I have one entire corner of the fridge crawling with dark chocolate turtles — that I can take any time I want?”
She paces right and left and then says, “May I approach the table?”
Where I sit, stirring my coffee. “You may.”
“I’d like to take a 15-minute recess.”
“Granted. But what for?”
She presses close. ” ‘Cause I know if I leave you in here for 15 minutes alone, you are bound to eat another!”
“If that’s how the cookie crumbles.”
I point a finger at her. “Watch out or I will hold you in contempt.”
“On what grounds?”
“Aiding and abetting a sweet tooth. And aren’t you overlooking our son? He could be the guilty culprit as well.”
“No, he couldn’t. His alibi is airtight.”
I study her. “. . . He was with you?”
“All day. With cookies around, I won’t let him out of my sight. So your red herring has just leaped from the net!”
Hmm. Maybe it’s time to plea bargain.
“What if I told you that I knew where the missing cookie was?”
“Not good enough. I know you’ll say it’s in your large intestine.”
“Rather,” and I raise my voice à la classic Jack McCoy, “that I can produce the cookie.”
“Please. I am not going to bargain about a bowel movement.”
“What will you give me if I turn over the entire cookie, virtually untouched by human hands, let alone digestive tracts?”
“Probation. Otherwise you’re looking at five to 10 . . . days without dessert.”
So saying, I stand up and point to my chair.
“I hid it just when you were about to enter the room.”
She looks. “Hid what?” For the chair is empty. “Is this some sort of insanity defense?”
But no. The wayward cookie is stuck to the seat of my pants. A kind of anus crime after all.
“How can I serve that?!”
“A deal is a deal.”
She then replaces the pancaked cookie with my entire stash of chocolate turtles.
I throw myself at the mercy of the court. To no avail.
“My class is hungry,” she snoots. “And justice is blind.”
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5