Thursday, July 28, 2011


"Um, I was told there would be Zwiebacks after this."

Turns out, I can't handle the truth. I mean, I used to. Ever since I was a child, when Adam forever ended my lone, wayward strolls through Toy City, and Gary Cole (oddly enough, now a crush of mine) scared the crap out of me as Jeffrey MacDonald in Fatal Vision, I've been fascinated by TV depictions of true crime.

A year after Vision, the Night Stalker would cut a swath through both halves of California, and suddenly, true crime was not only on my television, but at my doorstep. As my dad worked nights, my mom was home with three girls and another on the way, and although it was sweltering hot, our windows—like everyone else's in the summer of 1985—stayed shut. When we were allowed outside, speculation of the Night Stalker's modus operandi reassured us kids as much as it turned us against each other:

At 36, I am still creeped out by this pic.

He only goes for yellow houses, like yours! 
I live in the apartments, butt munch! He can't kill the whole apartments. He likes houses that are on the end of the street. Like yours.
At least I live in a house, butt nugget! And anyways, my dad is a Guardian Angel. The lead one.

And so it went, until Richard Ramirez apparently (and erroneously) assumed that he could jack a woman's car in East L.A. without getting his ass beat three ways to domingo. But even that true crime close-shave didn't dissuade me from watching Helter Skelter, The Hillside Strangler or many other similar telepics repeating on any random Sunday afternoon. And I continued to bring home stacks of VHS filled with stories of crazy cannibal families and wrong turns and David Hess.

Which makes me wonder, where has this other woman suddenly come from? The one who began a weekend of watching the Investigation Discovery channel comfortably reclined on her sofa, only to end it curled up in the fetal position, quizzing her husband about previously undisclosed dead wives in England (he has none), and wondering if the already-creepy neighbor was secretly plotting her kidnapping and dismemberment (the jury's still out on that one).

Yes, folks, I completely lost the plot, all down to a binge of programming completely devoted to true crime. Maybe it's because I'm adult now (I think), and unlike the 10-year-old me, the 36-year-old me is more than aware of loss and mortality. My fascination with true crime is tempered by sadness for the victims and their families. As I watch the reenactments now, I find them more humbling and cautionary than entertaining, and I consider myself fortunate to have gone all these years without appearing on a milk carton, or an "Unsolved Mysteries" episode. I've lived long enough to see Gary Cole go from portraying a murderer to playing Mike Brady, so there's that. Did I mention I have a massive crush on him? A few months ago, my husband ran into Gary Cole on the Warner Bros. backlot, and it was crime that I wasn't there. Truly.