Law and Order

I think that every generation of children has a touchstone television show whose ingrained theme song immediately brings back their youth. For me, it was Leave it to Beaver, and then later with my younger brothers, most definitely The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Every night at 6:30 we would watch the opening credits and try to guess whether or not Rob Petrie would trip over the ottoman as wife Laura greeted him in a dress, heels and pearls.  The Brady Bunch, the Cosby Show and maybe the Wonder Years were favorites of the next waves of children.  In contrast, my children spent their formative TV years in the 90s, when warm family sitcoms seem to have evaporated.  If you asked them, the standout TV show of their youth would have to be Law and Order.  In it is original version this show was divided in two parts; the first half hour was devoted to police work and nabbing the perp or the perv, and the second half consisted of a court drama, which often hinged on legal maneuvering and plot twists.  Subsequent spin offs included “Special Victims Unit (SVU),” which introduced the viewers to the term the morbid fascination of sex crimes and “Criminal Intent” which focused on the eccentric detective Bobby Goren.  With three different versions, and reruns on cable, there was no shortage of Law and Order in our household.   The opening voice-over for the SVU show refers to “particularly heinous crimes,” and I know my kids are going to have a leg up on the vocab section of the SATs if the word “heinous” shows up!  

When my daughter was 8 or 9 the stated bedtime was 9 PM, which really meant that 9 PM was the starting point for negotiations.  Disliking prolonged bedtime rituals I worked out a deal where if she agreed to go to bed before 9 I would put her to bed, along with the requisite back rub and story.  However, it she wanted to go to bed after 9, that meant she was a “big” girl and could put herself to bed.  The original Law and Order started at 9, and as the syncopated theme song started, she was faced with a big decision. In her innocent voice she would ask, “Please can’t I just stay up just long enough to see who gets murdered and then you can still put me to bed?” Distraught psychologists estimate that by their teenage years, American children have been exposed to some 10,000 murders or other scenes of violence.  Most of ours came from Law and Order.

My mother always waxed nostalgic over her favorite show Perry Mason, which by the 90’s had faded to late late night cable TV.  My parents had grown bored with their TV menu, which consisted of the Antiques Road Show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and the History Channel, which we renamed the “Hitler Channel” due to its focus on WWII footage.  Therefore, I suggested that they might like Law and Order.  I carefully explained the time and the channel and even called them to remind them as 9 PM approached.  The plot lines of Law and Order had started to veer towards socially relevant stories on racism or police brutality, etc, and I hoped that this night would involve a ripe plot line about a dysfunctional family with twists more reminiscent of Perry Mason.  Everything started well, and then I was horrified as I realized that the plot line was devolving into a particularly sordid affair of a mother and 14 year old daughter who shared the same boyfriend.  Uh-oh.  At one point Lenny and Mike got a search warrant of the family’s apartment, which included a search of the laundry hamper.  Using a pencil, Mike extracts a pair of dirty underwear from the heap and holds it up in the air in front of Lenny.  With evident disdain and a slight perception of a sniff, Mike says, “I think that there is fluid in these panties, bag em!”  This was clearly too much for my parents to bear.  Just think, poor Rob and Laura Petrie were forced to sleep in separate single beds because a queen bed was considered too risqué in the 1960s.   From then on, we would refer to the Special Victims Unit (SVU) as the “Fluid in the Panties” show.  

Lest you think that I have wasted umpteen hours of time, I would like to impress you with the legal knowledge that I have gained along the way.  First, throw away everything that you were wearing when you committed the crime, including the boots with the telltale wear pattern on the soles, the expensive cashmere item that you can only buy at one store in all of New York, or that coat with the distinctive cat fibers on it.  Get rid of it all.  Never, ever let the cops in the door, even if they say there is a gas leak or they are raising money for orphans.  Once they are in your house, they can look around all they want.  Demand the search warrant.  Also, never leave the house to talk to the cops, it’s best that you talk either through the screen door or with just a crack open and the safety chain on.  I’m pretty sure that there is some rule that cops cannot come in the house to arrest someone, but they can arrest you when you leave the house. 

If you do get hauled into the “big house” for questioning, either wear a pair of latex gloves or don’t touch anything.  These crafty cops might offer you a grimy Styrofoam cup of coffee for the sole purposes of getting your prints and comparing them to those found on the scene.  (It is slightly disquieting to me that my prints are already on file with the government, since I was fingerprinted when I worked at a VA hospital as a medical resident.)  Don’t sneeze, because in general, fluids are more informative than prints, don’t let your hair fall out because they can do DNA on the hair follicles, and don’t bite anyone, since they can match the bite pattern with those at the crime scene.  I can’t really give you knowledgeable advice about whether or not to “lawyer up,” but I might recommend it simply because it would be so dramatic to yell, “Get me my lawyer,”  – presuming you had a lawyer in the first place.  And while there is much talk about the right to privacy, you really don’t have any.  There are cameras everywhere, at the convenience store, ATM machine, at intersections taking pictures for speeding tickets, your EZ pass records your coming and going, etc.  And just like PigPen, wherever you go there is a cloud of dust following you, an efffluvium of epithelials, fingerprints, fibers and fluids that can pinpoint your every move.  We can no longer go gently into that good night.

The missing words in the following poem are anagrams (i.e. share the same letters like spot, stop, post) and the number of asterisks indicates the number of letters.  One of the words will rhyme with the previous or following line.  Your job is to solve the missing words based on the above rules and the context of the poem.  Scroll down for answers.

Staying up to see the murder on Law and Order is one of my daughter’s desires,

And to watch Elliot Stabler, the sensitive SVU detective she most ******* 

 With a  ******* tucked into his holster or in the belt around his waist, 

 He has not backed down from the violence and cruelty he’s faced.

 Unlike the line up, it’s hard to ******* the evidence used to nail a perv,

 With epithelials, fiber and fluid, they usually get the sentence they deserve.







Answers:  admires, sidearm, misread


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