In first grade, I loved two things: puppies and mischief.
I’m not suggesting that much has changed since then.
I adored my Scooby-Doo pajamas. Images of myself riding shotgun in the Mystery Machine, and running after the weekly monster played through my mind each night as I brushed my teeth before bedtime. Aside from Shaggy, I wasn’t a huge fan of the human characters. My allegiance lay with the love-able dog, and when they introduced Scrappy-Doo I was convinced he was exactly what I would be in the cartoon-puppy-mystery-solving-world.
He was small, he was feisty, and he wasn’t afraid of anything. He was, in a word, amazing.
Still, as the elementary years passed, I found myself mature and sophisticated in sixth grade-having outgrown the Scooby p.j.’s. I was in the highest grade of the school now, had to set an example for those younger and less-educated than myself. Had to pretend that Scrappy-Doo was no longer such a role model in my ever-active imagination. So I set him aside, and began the process of growing up.
And then, during the DARE program at school, I met McGruff. Here was an older, middle-aged, trench-coat donning dog who taught kids how to solve crimes. The allure of a dog added to the promise of crime-solving adventure was too much, and my inner-younger self sprung into action and allegiance. I too, wanted to take a bite out of crime.
So it’s not really too surprising what happened next.
My best-friend Hayden and I dressed up in what we believed to be ‘disguised’ clothing ( fairly certain that black stretch-pants and hats were involved), threw notepads into bags, tucked pencils behind our ears, and set about her neighborhood, hiding in bushes, spying on any and all potential criminals.
We were rounding a corner, in heated discussion about the suspicious nature of an old widow’s pie-baking habits (Who was she feeding them to? Why make them so often when no one visits? Were they possibly poisoned?), when we spotted a couple peering into the windows of one of her neighbor’s homes.
Well, this was certainly criminal behavior.
As we climbed the tree in the adjacent yard to get a better look on the couple, I remember Hayden specifically whispering:
“Note down the t-shirt! They both are wearing tie-dyed t-shirts! And sweatpants!”
Then, in my ever-present tact, I whispered back:
‘Mark down that they’re fat! They’re fat, don’t forget to take note of that!”
All in all, we managed to record the time, the license plate of their car, the description of their clothing, and their obesity before they disappeared into the backyard and we lost site of all criminal activity. Figuring they were fugitives, we decided this would be the best moment to shimmy back down the tree trunk, run to Hayden’s house, and figure out what to do with such valuable evidence to a crime undoubtedly being committed.
An hour later, we returned to the scene of the crime with a handwritten note on pink paper that read:
Have you been robbed? If so, we want to tell you that two very fat large individuals were seen peering into your windows today at 3:30 in the afternoon. They were both wearing tie-dyed t-shirts and sweatpants. One was a woman with a yellow scrunchy, the other, a man with black hair. Their license plate read 130-DID. We hope this helps you solve the case.
It took each of us until about nine o’clock that evening to realize that perhaps we had made a mistake. I called her house and in an unconvincing tone of calm, suggested the possibility that those people had not been criminals at all. Hayden returned my faux-calm by announcing she was going to inform her mother of our actions, and we both hoped that the burden of responsibility would then pass onto the adult, and we could be spared further trouble.
Hayden’s mother threw her into the car and demanded she tell her which mailbox, all the while muttering under her breath about mail-fraud and the crime of rifling through your neighbors mail. She was less than enthused at our crime-stopping tactics. Evidently, when they got to the house, the same car was in the drive-way, lights were on in the house, and Hayden and her mother could see the couple we had described in their family room, watching t.v. while eating dinner.
The fat sweat-pant donning couple were the owners of the house.
It was by sheer luck that they hadn’t yet retrieved their mail. Hayden’s mother grabbed the pink note out of the mailbox, and continued to lecture her on the way home about our ridiculous, hair-brained ideas.
She needn’t have waster her breath however. By the time the crime-solving adventure had ended, we set our sites on bigger and better things. Seventh grade was coming around the corner.
By the time that hit-it wasn’t solving the crimes that excited us.