Guilty way before innocent
You know those guys who wind up spending 20 years in jail, and then it turns out they didn't do the thing they spent 20 years in jail for?
Every time you hear one of those stories, don't you think, Yeah, but the guy must've done something.
He probably stole some gum.
Or took an extra newspaper from the newspaper box.
Or drove two miles an hour over the speed limit.
I mean, c'mon, they just don't make random mistakes like that. Bad guys are bad guys, right?
Well, I used to think that, too. But I've gotta tell you, when you're the guy screaming "I-swear-I-didn't-do- it" and you really didn't-do-it, you suddenly gain a newfound appreciation for life, liberty and wife who doesn't want to remove you from your testicles.
Confused? You should've seen me last weekend.
You see, last Saturday night my brother-in-law and sister-in-law had our kids sleep over their house.
"Why don't you pick them up around 3:00 tomorrow afternoon?" said my sister-in-law as we dropped them off.
When you're a parent and someone offers to have your kids sleep over, life is good.
When you're a parent and someone offers to have your kids sleep over and you don't have to pick them up until 3:00 the next day, life is deliriously joyful.
And so, my lovely wife and I went out for a nice, relaxing evening.
You forget how quiet life can be without two extremely small, extremely loud mouths sitting next to you. Nevertheless, in spite of the silence, we struggled through it and managed to savor every second.
The next morning we decided to go out for a late breakfast, then take a walk around Chagrin Falls.
As we pulled out of the garage in the minivan, I looked at my Corolla parked in the driveway. Much to my chagrin -- before we went to Chagrin -- I noticed that the Corolla had a flat tire.
"Dammit," I said, "I've got a freakin' flat tire."
I said that for two reasons. One, I'm a remarkably observant guy. And two, I had a freakin' flat tire.
I know this is going to surprise you, but flat tires piss me off.
Because when you have a flat tire that means you have to put the spare on, then take your car to the tire place, then wait, then wait some more, then finally they give you all this BS about alignment and tire rotation and balance and blah blah blah blah blah and just give me my car back, okay?
So all day long, I complained about the fact that I had a flat tire.
My wife told me to shut up.
I know this is going to surprise you, but this was not the first time my wife has ever told me to shut up. But it was the first time she told me to shut up about the flat tire I got on my car today.
I wanted to tell her to shut up about telling me to shut up, but I decided I'd be a man about it and just keep quiet.
I'm not afraid of her or anything. Swear to God.
When we got home that afternoon, my tire was still flat. And as my wife walked by the car, all I heard her say was, "What the…?"
I walked over and looked inside my state-of-the-art 1994 Toyota Corolla.
The front seat was completely covered with dirt. The passenger seat was completely covered with dirt. And in the back seat was a bag of dirt spilled all over the seat.
Even worse, the dirt wasn't dirt. It was Organic Humus and Manure.
I knew this because the bag that was lying in the back seat of my car said Organic Humus and Manure.
That's humus as in soil.
And manure as in shit.
The windows were rolled up. And it was sunny and hot.
I then took a closer look at my tire.
I hadn't driven over anything. The tire had been slashed.
My first reaction was obvious.
"Oh my God. There's somebody out there who hates guys with big ears who drive Corollas!"
I quickly came to my senses and realized how unrealistic that was.
Nobody hates Corollas that much.
My wife, my dear lovely wife, had an entirely different opinion of the scene.
"You bastard. You're cheating on me, aren't you? And since we're selling our house your girlfriend thought this would be the perfect time to leave me but you told her you're breaking it off and she's pissed, and this is how she's getting you back! Who is she?"
Initially, I was impressed with both the speed and multitude of layers to her story.
In fact, I actually thought about complimenting her on her tall tale, but I realized that right before my eyes, my dear lovely wife had been secretly replaced by a combination of Judge Judy and Lorena Bobbit.
Yes, court was now in session.
Your honor, for the defense…me.
"Sweetheart, don't be ridiculous. What are you talking about? I have no idea who would do something like this. I realize that there are other cars in other driveways on the street that weren't touched and I know that seems kinda weird, but I don't know why they singled mine out. You've gotta believe me. I know, I know they dumped shit in there and it seems like someone is trying to send me a message, but I swear to God, I have no idea who would do anything like this. Swear to God."
Funny thing was, the more I talked, the less I even started believing myself.
"I'm pissed," I said. "Really pissed."
Good maneuver, I thought. Now I was showing venomous anger towards whoever did this.
Liked I cared at this point.
All I was worried about was getting out of a situation that I was in even though I didn't do anything to put myself in that situation. And the more I talked about not being in the situation I was in, the more it sounded like I was trying to get out of trying to explain the situation that I was in that I didn't do anything to get into in the first place.
You've heard of a win-win?
This was not one of those.
I slowly walked around the car a couple of times like I was Joe Friday. What I was going to find or what I was even looking for was completely irrelevant. But I had to look like I was doing something. I opened the door and smelled the dirt. I examined the grass near the car looking for any other clues.
I kept saying things like, "Who would do this? Who would do this?"
All I was really thinking was, "How in the hell am I going to get out of this?"
And my wife? My dear sweet wife was just staring at me.
I had no answers. And she had the divorce papers signed. I could see it in her eyes.
Finally, with no options left, I did what every man on death row does in desperation.
I called the warden. Which in this case happened to be the Twinsburg Police Department.
"Yes, I'd like to report that my car has been vandalized," I said to the dispatch operator. "No, I have no idea who would do something like this."
I looked at my wife out of the corner of my eye. She was still staring.
I was sweating. And trust me, it had nothing to do with the sun.
After several minutes, an officer arrived at our house. He made his way up the driveway, took a slow walk around the car, looked inside the window, and then he approached me and said:
"You bastard. You're cheating on her, aren't you? And since you're selling your house your girlfriend thought this would be the perfect time to leave her but you told her you're breaking it off and she pissed, and this is how she's getting you back! Who is she?"
Well, that's what I expected him to say.
Instead, he said that the police department had received four calls since midnight of other cars in the neighborhood being vandalized in similar ways by a bunch of young kids.
Cue the stringed instruments! Let the ray of sunshine pour down! There was a stay of execution! A wrong had been righted! An innocent man had been cleared of all charges!
Yes, my car was full of shit.
Yes, I had a slashed tire.
Yes, I had no way of getting to work the next day.
And yes, I was never so happy in my life.
I can't tell you how overjoyed I was to hear that other people had stuff ruined, too.
Because this wasn't about property, anymore. This was about me and my groinal area.
I looked at my wife. The stare was gone.
I gave her the "I love you, honey" look.
She gave me the "I love you honey" look, too.
Phew. I was off the hook.
Well, I was off the hook until she opened her mouth.
"You idiot! How stupid can you be to leave your car unlocked in the driveway? What are you thinking? You moron!"
Your honor, I plead the Fifth.