Go to the Mattresses

Try to avoid getting involved with somebody who's gonna need killing before it's over. It may seem to you that that narrows the field somewhat, but be diligent.

-Jill Conner Browne

Isn't it sweet when perfect strangers volunteer to kill other perfect strangers on your behalf? (Scary, albeit...but sweet.)

Fiercely independent as I am, there's nothing I enjoy more than a heartfelt offer to come to my defense or aid in some way. The more specific the better, and if violence or firearms are involved, wellI can't condone that, but it's the thought that counts.

It reminds me that chivalry's not dead.

Response to last week's column on stalkers (heavily edited and abbreviated for public consumption, because I didn't want to provide any more freaks with new and better ideas of how to terrorize me) generated responses that I can only describe as heartwarming.

For example, my buddy MacGyver (so named for his Batman-like aversion to weaponry of any kind) emailed, "You know, for $10 a day, I can come over and guard your house, although, as you know, I don't believe in guns. I do believe in metal folding chairs, however, and things of that nature."

Another friend responded with Soprano-like sincerity, "Who is this stalker? Do you need me to beat someone down? I am Italian...and I have friends."

Anonymous readers volunteered all manner of atrocities on my behalf, while others were more horrified that I was so graphic about my willingness to go to the mattresses (no, not like that), if it came down to it.

As one scandalized former manservant put it, "You keep writing about your expertise decapitating livestock in utero and you are going to get yourself crossed RIGHT off all the best guest lists Missy!"

Oh come on now. I mean, first, I didn't decapitate anything (I just sharpened the knife), and second, it's not like I recommended animal husbandry as a party trick or anything. I was just trying to make the point that I am of slightly heartier, far less delicate, stock than I might sometimes get credit (or blame) for.

I thought I'd made it pretttttty clear that I was no debutramp to be trifled with (an appellation I stole from a fellow petite-flower blonde who's also nobody to tangle with).

Which was why I was moderately surprised to wake up the morning after the column came out and found my vehicle missing.

Huh...Did I not make myself clear? Should I have been more specific about the possible consequences of vandalizing (much less stealing) my stuff?

I shook my head a couple times in complete disbelief after staring at the vast expanse of pavement once occupied by my truck.

I know what you're thinking, and no, I certainly was NOT drunk when I'd parked it.

Yes. I have hauled a lot of drunks-up to 12 maximum, I think, on one evening, but that required Satish's friend Carleton from Atlanta to sit in my fake ex-husband's lap in the front seat (whereupon he, Carleton, proceeded to ask him odd, inebriated questions about whether or not he was Catholic), while all the rest of us sang "The Road Goes on Forever"-but I have never been drunk in that vehicle. So that couldn't account for its disappearance.

And sure, even though I can always be counted on to regularly lose any car in mass parking corridors like malls, arenas, and stadiums, the street was almost empty. I couldn't have just inadvertently misplaced 3.5 tons of Detroit steel.

So, the first thing I did was call the Law.

The Law was busy solving real crimes (murders and drug deals and that sorta thing), and after they'd stopped to mock me briefly ("Isn't that thing supposed to be theft proof?") and checked to ensure they hadn't moved it, I (justifiably) slipped a little on their list of priorities.

And yes, it IS theft-resistant, but I don't think anything is really theft-proof (though I think the 2003 model comes equipped with a P3 Orion spy plane and two OH-58 observation helicopters).

Soon though, a patrol officer came over to my office to help me fill out the requisite Stolen Vehicle report.

By then, I was collapsed in a swoon over my keyboard, crying my eyes out.

To stay productive and distracted, my coworkers had suggested I start making an inventory of the contents for my insurance company.

That's when I got misty:

What about my pink-feather high-heel silk mules that Hop Sing bought me for a pajama party? (And, uh, why are they in there anyway?)

And how could I replace that copy of my master's thesis I keep meaning to have bound (Flannery O'Connor's Wingless Chickens: The Role of the Pseudosophisticate in Selected Short Stories, a REAL page-turner). Of course, I've been meaning to have it bound since I wrote it, back in the 80s. It used to live in my Toyota, because I remember my friend Tad fishing it out from under the passenger seat and saying, "Ohhhh. So THIS is where you keep it!"

Then there was a bag of cucumbers from farmers' market (get your mind outta the gutter; I was planning to make gazpacho).

...A hula hoop from my authorial running mate Ed-we trade it back and forth every five birthdays or so, starting somewhere around his 60th and my 30th I think. You can't put a pricetag on that!!!!

...not to mention my Barbie bubble machine. (I could've lied and said it was for my niece Emma's upcoming birthday later that week, but she'd have ratted me out.)

...and don't even get me started on my out-of-print CDs and all the garden supplies that I hadn't gotten around to unloading.

Sometime before I worked my way up to full-scale hysteria, we were radioed that my Beloved had miraculously turned up in a tow lot (another story, for another time).

I've never been so relieved to be towed in my life. And I guess the moral is, if you don't want to be embarrassed in front of your insurance adjuster, you should not stow so much stuff in your truck that it resembles something belonging to the Clampetts. (Though I just prefer to think of it as a really, really big Kate Spade bag.)