The Columbo Made Me Not Do It

I was going to write an article last night, but then something unexpected and wonderful happened; an episode of “Columbo” came on. Superman had his kryptonite and I’ve got my “Columbo.” That show has a power over me that even my dear departed grandmother’s country ham and red eye gravy couldn’t match.

If you ever want to destroy me, this is all you need to know.

When I see Peter Falk in that rumpled, old raincoat, I become an absolute invalid. I just sit down, wherever I am, and I fall silent. If I were more paranoid, I might suspect that I was hypnotized at an early age in one of those covert CIA/NBC mind-control experiments. (Someday, no doubt, the phone with ring and I’ll pick it up and hear Peter Falk’s voice. “Mark, it’s time. Your country needs you. Your assignment is to run over Ralph Nader with a Lincoln Navigator. Do you understand me, Mark?” “Yes, detective Columbo. I understand. Must kill Ralph Nader with SUV.”)

“Columbo” renders me impotent as a husband, worthless as a friend and undependable as an employee.

The Taliban could be pasting beards on my children and readying them for jihad, and I’d let it happen if an episode of “Columbo” were on. A priest from Boston could be helping my son try on swimming trunks, and I’d be OK with it, so long as I could hear Peter Falk’s voice.

Putting a price on Peter Falk’s Head

While we’re on the subject of Peter Falk, I’d like to take this opportunity to put a $5 bounty on his head. No, I don’t want him dead. I just want to interview him for “Crimewave.” And, if you can help arrange that, I will pay you $5 cash. So, if you know Mr. Falk, or know someone else who knows him, please try to set something up. I have wanted to interview him for some time now, but our paths just haven’t crossed. (I have in the past issued a similar bounty on Don Knotts and it lead to an interview with one of his close relatives (see “Crimewave” issue #12), so this does actually work.)

I would, if I had to, settle for an interview with someone who knows him well. Failing that, I would even settle for someone of casual acquaintance; perhaps a relative, gardener, waiter, camera operator, script supervisor, dog walker, etc. (Unfortunately, I can not pay $5 for such interviews, but I would be happy to send you a free copy of the issue of “Crimewave” in which the interview appears.)

Toilet Tank Tombstone

Yesterday, I think that I may have heard a man almost lose his life in the bathroom of a local Mexican restaurant.

As I was standing there, minding my own business at the urinal, I heard the door behind me burst open with unbelievable force. Before I could even turn my head to see what was happening, I heard a series of loud, beast-like clomps pass behind me and felt a “whoosh” of air, the force of which almost pushed my torso completely into the urinal.

By the time the bathroom door had come to a close, what I assume was a man was already secure within the walls of the stall next to me, apparently contorting himself out of his clothing. I heard elbows hitting the thin, red metal walls on each side of him and the sounds of what I think were three belts being undone. There was real emotion coming through in his performance too. Whatever this guy was doing, you could tell his life depended on it. It sounded to me like what it must have sounded like to the friends of Harry Houdini, standing on the shore of the Niagara River, as he, in a straight jacket was placed inside a metal box and lowered beneath the surface of the water. I just stood there, mesmerized by the drama of the incomprehensible groans and the sounds of limbs being twisted from their sockets.

As I was dismounting the urinal, I heard what sounded like a net full of wet eels being tossed onto a tile countertop from the height of about five feet. It was, no doubt, the sound of his wet ass hitting the ceramic seat and forming an airtight seal. With that, I decided to forego my extensive post-peeing cleansing ritual in favor of quick scrub, and headed for the door. My paper towel-covered hand was just about to reach for the doorknob when I heard the man begin to sob and whimper as though he were begging for his life. I’ve seen psychotic women go into labor without medication, in their own bathtubs (Linette has forced me to watch “A Baby Story” with her on TV) and this was way, way worse than even that.

With that, I paused for a moment, waiting for what might come next. I harkened back, in that split second, to my days as a bellhop and the dead body of the hotel guest in Cincinnati that I had to try to resuscitate all those years ago, the man who died on the toilet. The paramedics had told me, once they finally got there, that lots of people go that way. I was thinking that I might be called on once again to try to save a giant, shitting man.

Then, without much of a warning, I heard a muffled explosion. The best I can describe it is to say that it sounded like what an M-80 might sound like if it were set off a few feet from you and if your head were in a bucket of water. With that, there was a sigh of relief from us both and I left.

I was tempted to wait outside and see who this was, but I felt as though I might be crossing some sort of line. I ran back to our table and turned my chair so I could not see the door. I didn’t want to know who it was that I’d been ready to save.

On Fat and Money

I’m afraid to look, but I think we spend more on eating out than we do on our mortgage each month. On a related note, I think I visit the Big Boy up the street three times more often than I visit the gym across the street from it. Sometimes I head out for the gym and end up at Big Boy. It has never happened the other way around.

I was going to go to the gym this morning, but I chose to sleep until 11:00 instead. I really should have gone this morning too. The gym is closed for the next two weeks for repairs, so this was my last chance for half a month to get my fat ass into a rowing machine.

Judging by what just happened, I’m sure the next fourteen days aren’t going to be pretty either. I didn’t set out to do it, but I just consumed the entire contents of a 16-ounce glass bottle of liquid cheese while lying on my couch, watching reruns of “COPS.”

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