Monday, April 27, 2009

The Craig’s List Killer: My Sympathies to the Fiancee

© 2009 Leighann Lord
Cops caught the Craig’s List Killer last week and I can’t help but feel sorry for his Fiancee. I doubt she saw this coming. I’m sure "serial killer" wasn’t included in his Face Book profile. Sadly, even if it was, she might have chosen to overlook it thinking she could change him.

It’s been reported that The Fiancee is standing by her man. The poor dear must be in shock but I understand. The wedding is scheduled for August and usually, once we buy the dress, it’s full speed ahead. [CUE MUSIC: McFadden & Whitehead’s "Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now."] Her decision might also be influenced by the hefty non refundable deposit on the reception hall. Although calling the wedding on account of crime sounds uniquely valid, catering managers aren’t real big on refunds. As we learned with the AIG executive bonuses: a contract is a contract. You can't go around abrogating them every time something heinous happens.

I wonder if the faithful Fiancee will change her mind if her beloved is found guilty. She’ll see this is when the competition for his attentions could start getting a little steep. There is a disturbing segment of the female population that finds serial killers irresistible. They think: "Young, smart guy going to medical school? Yeah, that’s nice. Arrested for murder? Where do I sign?" His stock went up the day he got arrested. The more bizarre and sensational the trial, the sexier he’ll become. He’s no Jeffrey Dahmer, but he’ll do in a pinch.

The women who actually marry convicted death row serial killers perplex me. What are they thinking? At least I’ll always know where he is? He may not be going home with her, but he’s also not going home with her best friend.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe my standards are a tad too high, but murder’s a deal breaker for me. There will come a time during the course of any relationship when you’re gonna feel like killing each other. I need to know that my mate can resist that urge. Perhaps I’m being picky, but I don’t want to end up buried in my own back yard.

In a practical way, this Craig’s List Killer thing adds to the growing list of critical questions that should be asked during the dating process: Do you use Craig’s List? Do you have a gambling problem? Have you killed anyone? And be sure to read their Face Book profile. If it does happen to say a serial killer consider it a gift and get out now; unless, of course, this is exactly what you’re looking. Then by all means, full speed ahead.

Maybe these women are smarter than I give them credit for. The structure of the prison system takes some of the worry out of wedding planning. There’s on site security, catering and no shortage of groomsmen. I’m sure there’s a really bad electric slide/electric chair joke here, but I’m not gonna be the one to make it. I give my well wishes and high hopes that the husband’s cell mate doesn’t catch the bouquet.


[RE-CUE MUSIC: "Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now."]

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

College Bling Lost in Plain Sight

© 2009 Leighann Lord

Not a lot of people wear their college ring, but it’s a touch more convenient than sporting a framed degree around your neck. I still wear my ring for sentimental reasons and was quite distraught recently when I lost it. "Where’s the last place you saw it?" my Husband asked as delicately as he could. "Right in front of me!" It was in my dresser drawer, tucked inside my travel jewelry case and then it was gone. I should have been comforted by the fact that at least I lost the ring in the house, but I’ve known stuff to go missing in there for years.

Sentimental pack rat that I am, I still have my Catholic high school ring. The choices back then were very basic: gold or silver band, red or blue stone. The bigger deal was Junior Ring Day. I received my ring in a lovely year end ceremony, after which the race was on. The tradition was to get as many people as possible to turn your ring twice to the right, and kiss you on the cheek so you wouldn’t become a nun. Apparently it worked, since the vocations are on steep decline.

Sadly, there was no college ring day. Rings were mailed directly to students from the company. Although FedEx is full service it seemed slightly inappropriate to ask the delivery guy to turn my ring and kiss me, though I’m sure he would have obliged.

What my college ring lacked in pomp and circumstance, it made up for in choice. You could order whatever your heart desired: gold, white gold, silver, platinum, diamonds and rings in all sizes from pinky to thumb. My high school ring cost about S75. My personally selected, hand-crafted college ring clocked in at about $463, and that was with the switch from diamonds to cubic zirconias. Where was a poor unemployed college student going to get the money to pay for that? Oh, Daddy!

It pains me to admit this now, but there was a time in my life when I primarily saw my parents as biological ATM machines. My Father says I had a way of saying, "Daddy" that made him reach in Pavlovian fashion for his wallet. The exchange would go like this:

"How much and for what?"
"To buy a present for Mommy’s birthday."
he’d say, handing me a $20 bill.
"No Daddy. A ‘nice’ present."
He’d fork over a few more bills, I give him a great big hug and run out the door. He’d holler after me that he wanted to see a receipt, "And I want my change!"

I always brought my Dad back his change. He had a thing about that. Not bringing it back, just assuming I could keep it, was akin to stealing. That exchange usually went something like:

"Here’s your change, Daddy."
"Hold onto it for me."
A big cheesy grin on my face: "Thanks, Daddy."
Asking for a little cash here and there was one thing, but checks made me nervous. My Dad almost never hesitated but I always felt bad asking for "big" money. I wasn’t a total Spoiled Brat Diva. I saw how hard my parents worked and I tried – as well as any self absorbed young person could – not to take them for granted. I doubted my Dad would come across with the ducats for a mere bauble that was four times the price of the high school version. I surmised that the "But it’s really cute" argument wouldn’t quite cut it.

I walked around with the order form in my book bag for days waiting for the right words and the right time. The latter was, as usual, the Sunday dinner table. The right words were elegant and dignified, and went something like, "Please, please, please, please, please, Daddy!" Now my pitch wasn’t just directed at my Dad. My Mom had to be on board for this as well or, Daddy’s Girl or not, it wasn’t gonna happen.

I augmented my verbal plea with a current college transcript showing my stellar grades. To remind my parents what a great daughter I was and how easy they had it, I included news clippings and statistics about young people my age having babies, committing crimes and doing drugs. To demonstrate that I really was trying to be mindful of their wallet, I showed them the brochure with all the expensive rings I hadn’t chosen. "Egads people, I’m saving you a fortune!"

Long time married couples have the amazing ability to communicate without speaking. My parents exchanged a very familiar, long-suffering glance that seemed to say, "Whose idea was it to have more children? You hold her down and I’ll get the belt."

You can see why losing this ring, even in the house, felt awful. I thought about bringing in a search and rescue team but my Cocker Spaniel, Rolie, is not that kind of dog. He’ll chase a few squirrels or the FedEx man, but that’s about it. Unless my ring were wrapped in Rolie’s favorite luncheon meat — low sodium ham – he wasn’t gonna find it. I simply had to trust that my ring would turn up. My jewelry Karma, however, continued to be out of wack.

Later that same day I had a hard time putting on my Mother’s wedding ring. Her fingers are slightly larger than mine so I wear her original wedding band as a thumb ring. On this occasion I couldn’t even squeeze it past the tip of my finger. Either I was retaining copious amounts of water, or my body was going through its own rapid and radical version of climate change. When I looked at my Mom’s ring more closely, I saw that my college ring – which is small enough to wear on my pinky – had somehow gotten lodged inside. Woo hoo!

I was incredibly grateful to find this cherished memento especially since my family doesn’t have a happy history with lost rings. Very early on in their marriage my Mom lost her engagement ring. They’ve been married for more than 50 years and it’s still a sore subject. I joked about The Great Ring Debacle shortly after I had gotten engaged, but I was the only one who found it funny. "What?" I said to my scowling parents, "Too soon?"

Replacing my school ring at today’s prices could have proven prohibitive, and I suspect this one would have been on me. All the transcripts, news clippings, and pouting in the world would not have convinced my parents to foot the bill again. My Dad never replaced my Mom’s lost engagement ring, so at this point it’s safe to say it’s probably not on his Bucket List.

Earlier that day, while looking for my ring, I vowed to myself that I would not replace it. "That’ll teach me," I thought. But I know me. I would have relented after a few days of wearing my mahogany framed degree Flavor Flav style around my neck.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Take Your Daughter to Work Day Gone Wrong

© 2009 Leighann Lord

Okay, call me shallow but my favorite news story last week was about the man who had his nine-year-old daughter with him as he robbed a convenience store. Are baby sitters that expensive? I guess the only bright side to this story is that the kid wasn’t holding the gun and Dad didn’t leave her in the car with the windows rolled up.

I loved going to work with my Dad. He had an office, a gigantic desk and a large leather chair on wheels. "Gentlemen start your engines." He was the head of the New York City Fire Department’s in-house print shop, known then as The Reproduction Unit. Even now I get a little wistful remembering the roar of the big printing presses, the smell of ink, moveable type and T-squares. As a consequence I can engage in the great debates: ragged right vs. justified; serif vs. sans serif. Should you eliminate widows by editing text or adjusting kerning? Is Helvetica the answer to everything?

I think my Dad enjoyed taking me to work with him. I was a quiet kid who did as I was told and didn’t bother anybody. I guess that’s why he didn’t think twice when he left me alone in his office once to dash out to a last minute meeting. I knew not to do anything crazy like answer the phone or open the window, but as a budding neat freak the sky high piles on my Dad’s desk and floor were just too tempting to ignore.

So while he was out I did a little straightening up. I organized the stacks according to color and height, making sure the piles were neat and straight. When that was done, I gathered up all the paper clips and hooked them together creating the longest ever stationery supply necklace. I thought if they were all together they’d always be easy to find.

I was happily spinning around in my Dad’s desk chair when he got back to the office. I can’t quite describe the look on his face as he took in all the improvements I had made. I’ll bet he wished he’d left me in the car.

This nine-year-old girl’s memory of going to work with her Dad will be as traumatic as mine is happy. I’m guessing he’ll be getting his Father’s Day card in prison. Might I suggest something in a Helvetica?

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Lost & Found; Making Room For Chicklet

© 2009 Leighann Lord

So, I’m driving through my neighborhood when I see a dog wandering in the street. An adorable little white powder puff, he looked like one of those breeds that people pay good money for, a house dog not a savvy, street stray. My plans for the day changed instantly.

My first concern was to get him out of the street. I walked up slowly, smiling, knelt down and waved him over. A friendly dog, he came right to me. He got a little nervous when I hooked my finger in his collar, but I didn’t want him to run back out into the street.

On closer inspection it was clear he belonged to someone. His fur was a beautiful, pristine white and he didn’t smell. His tag had the name and number of a local animal hospital. I spotted a woman coming out of the candy store across the street and asked, "Miss, is this your dog?"

"No," she said. "But it looks like the Reverend’s dog. I’ll go ring his bell."

I picked up the dog and followed her. On the way I called the Animal Hospital listed on his tag. I figured they’d be able to tell me without a doubt who his owner was and where he lived. I described the dog and the receptionist asked me if it was a boy or girl. "Um . . . I dunno." I’d been calling him a "he," but hadn’t actually taken inventory. When I reached the house I put the dog down, trying to roll him over to see if I could get a peek, but he demurred.

Just then an old white-haired gentleman in a bathrobe answered the door. The Reverend, I presumed, was understandably cautious and perplexed. Why would two strange women be ringing his doorbell so early on a Saturday morning? "Hello Sir, sorry to bother you but is this your dog?" The Reverend saw the dog at my feet, opened his screen door and said, "Mister?!? Get in here!" With no hesitation Mister scampered up the front steps and disappeared through the door without a backward glance.

The Revered, still a bit bewildered, thanked us profusely. I was happy I had done a good deed. Well, I should have been happy, but there was a part of me that was disappointed. I’d been not so subconsciously thinking:

"Oh what a cute little dog ... what if I can’t find his owner . . . I can’t just leave him here ... I guess I’ll take him home ... no wait ... he’ll have to go to the vet first ... Oh great, how much is that gonna cost? ... Will my dog like having a new dog in the house? ... My Little Guy is old and cranky and set in his ways... Maybe he’ll resent having to share his humans ... Everyone tells me a second dog might help cure his separation anxiety ... Ug! We can’t afford another dog, but maybe this was meant to be ... Guess I’ll swing by Petco ... We’ll need more dog food, some toys, another dog bed.... How much is this gonna cost me? ... Maybe I’ll name him Chicklet."

By the time the Rev had reclaimed his Mister, I’d already pictured my Chicklet on this year’s family Christmas card.

I know I did the ethical thing by finding the dog’s rightful owner, but I wonder if he’s a good owner. If my dog were lost, you wouldn’t find me lounging at home in my pajamas. I’d be out leading the house to house search party. And you certainly can’t let a dog roam New York City streets unescorted. Too easy for them to get hurt or fall into the hands of nefarious dog traffickers. And Mister’s tag – true evidence of The Reverend’s neglect – showed the dog’s shots were two years out of date.

The street where I saw Chicklet is one I travel often, so I’m keeping an eye out. If the Rev gets careless again, Chicklet is getting a new home.

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