when i was a kid i did a lot of dumb stuff. i mean, everyone did, right? me and my friend (the same one i rapped with) even had a detective agency for a while. we called ourselves the "slick sleuths" and we were so fucking rad.
we only had one case that i can remember. but i remember it pretty well, all things considered. it concerned a threatening note left on a kid named jon's desk. it said "i hat you." that's hate, spelled wrong. big guns.
i'm afraid there's no way i'm going to be able to tell this story with any satisfactory continuity, so i'll pause here to give you the chance to bail if you don't think you can handle it. also this story showcases what an amazing dork i was (am), and if you squirm easily out of sympathetic embarrassment (like when you see someone really bombing at karaoke) then you might want to go read someone awesome's weblog instead.
right. so slick sleuths, we were. we managed to convince our teacher* to commission us to solve the crime. a whodunit for the ages. we got every single kid in the class to write a cleverly selected word containing many of the letters from "i hat you" on a piece of paper to compare handwriting without raising suspicions about our motives. it was the 'a' that gave it away.
the culprit: a girl named sarah. i can remember about 2 years earlier sitting behind sarah and humming a song that went like "sarah, sarah, no time is a good time for goodbyes" that i had heard on the radio thinking that she surely would've also heard it, would recognize it from my humming, and would fall madly in love with me. how old are you in first grade? because i was sure it would work. what actually happened, though, is that she turned around more than once and told me to stop because i was "annoying" her. so i tried to hum it more clearly (read: loudly) so she would recognize it. eventually she tattled on me and i got in trouble.
i really do remember all this clearly. almost twenty years removed from it now, it sure seems to hint at much that was to come. when you're in first grade that's about as close to making a mixtape full of thinly veiled propositions as you can get. i haven't really had an original idea since then, i guess.
anyway. turns out this erstwhile object of my affection was nothing more than a hardened criminal, the crookedness of her moral compass matched only by the deficiency** of her spelling skills. confronted, she crumbled with little resistance. score one for the slick sleuths.
we demanded payment. i didn't mention this before but that kid jon was a dick. his parents were probably mean or something though, so i don't hold it against him anymore. but he refused. not that we even had a price or anything. and our teacher sure as hell wasn't going to make him pay (though i still to this day think she must've been impressed). eventually we coaxed a single penny from his miserly pockets.
i don't remember how it came about so i'll fabricate this part.
i wanted to reinvest our first take in the business. perhaps put it towards business cards, or some totally awesome long range surveillance microphones like you used to be able to order from the back of boys life magazine. did i mention i was a cub scout back then? i was a shitty scout and i probably wouldn't have ever earned my arrow of light if it weren't for my parents. i did almost win the cub scout regatta one time, but i got overexcited in the end and blew too hard (which just knocks your boat into the side of the rain gutter propped up on cinder blocks) and lost in the finals and i think i cried about it for like 4 hours.
my partner wanted to put it towards a celebration. wine, cheese, everyone who was anyone. the upper crust. a real to-do. we were at an impasse.
back to reality. although the cub scouts stuff was true.
we sat on the bus that day arguing about what to do with the penny. one thing was for sure. you can't split a penny. and if neither of us could have it, then neither of us could have it. i think we counted to three, and yelled in unison "who wants this?" and threw the penny back over our shoulder, convinced we'd be making some lucky kid's day, altruistic pride swelling deep in our bowels.
not the case, dear reader. in elementary school i don't know if you had "bus patrols" but i sure did. these were basically the worst people alive (i would become one at a later date). they were fifth graders, sworn to be horribly bitchy and tattle on anyone who didn't face forward and keep their mouth shut for the 30 minute bus ride home from school. i can remember one girl in particular who would chant all sing-song-ily "sit down turn around and shuuut up!" over and over again. god i hated them. then i wanted so badly to be one when it came to be my time. "repression serves only to strengthen and knit the repressed." that's from the grapes of wrath and i've always loved that quote. it doesn't really apply here.
the bus patrol told us we were both "reported" for endangering the lives and limbs of every tender soul on the bus. that meant we had to answer to the captain of the bus patrol / physical education teacher in the morning and let me tell you: that was bad news. we were so fucked.
the story basically ends here. i think we had some sunglasses with mirrors inside so we could see behind us and maybe a little periscope but i don't remember any other cases we took on so maybe that was it.
i almost just said there was no moral to the story but then i thought of one: if you insist on being a detective instead of just letting be what will be, you'll end up regretting it. at least in two specific cases i can think of. one i just told you about. the other one involves googling the names of girls you once knew to see what they're up to these days.
* for the life of me i can't remember who it was so i forget what grade we were in but i'm leaning towards third and i think it was a she whose surname began with 'e'. epstein? i bet my mom remembers...
** fun fact: i had a really hard time spelling "deficiency". oh sweet irony.