Saturday, September 18, 2010


When I was taking a walk around the neighborhood at dusk the other night, a man who lives on the next street over greeted me and then added, “Not to scare you or anything, but we were burglarized the other night.”

Scare me? Why on earth would he think that telling me about a burglar lurking somewhere in the neighborhood when it was nearly dark out and I still had to walk past a quarter-mile of nothing but thick woods to get back home would scare me?

I’m pretty sure I actually broke a few Olympic speed records getting back home.

A couple years ago, the house right next to our property (our house hadn’t been built yet) also was burglarized…and that house had an alarm system. The thieves took everything but the wallpaper.

Actually, I’m not that concerned about having our stuff stolen because we really don’t have anything thieves would be interested in. My three jewelry boxes contain about $100 worth of jewelry, most of which is tarnished. I bought our TV on sale for only $499. My computer is so old, the company doesn’t even make parts for it any more. And the loose-change jar into which my husband used to empty his pockets every night, contains nothing but cobwebs since he retired.

I must confess, however, that I’ve always been terrified of discovering some criminal roaming through my house. This fear caused me to get some pretty strange looks last year when I went shopping for a new bedroom set.

“Here we have a lovely solid maple four-poster bed,” the sales clerk said, smiling proudly.

Had he offered me a bed made entirely of poison-tipped arrows, I couldn’t have looked more appalled. “No!” I practically shouted. “Nothing with posts or slats…or anything else I can be tied to!”

The expression on his face told me he thought I needed a long vacation somewhere far away from civilization.

“It’s just that in every horror movie I’ve seen where some maniac breaks into a house,” I explained, “the people who live there always end up getting tied to the bed. So I want a bed I can’t be tied to.”

The clerk led me to a sleigh bed. The headboard was one solid slab of curved wood with no posts. I wasn’t particularly fond of the style…or the price, but I bought it. Since then, I’ve been able to sleep a little less fearfully.

But thanks to a movie I saw years ago, I may never be able to sleep in total peace.

In the movie, a woman awakened at about 3 in the morning and had to go to the bathroom. When she came back to bed and climbed in, in total darkness, little did she know that while she was in the bathroom, a killer had broken into her bedroom, slipped underneath the covers and was waiting for her.

Ever since I saw that movie, I turn on just about every light in the house when I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Then when I come back to bed, I make absolutely certain that the body lying there belongs to my husband and not some fiendish killer clone.

I do feel some measure of safety, however, knowing that anyone who breaks into our house will have to face two very large rottweilers. Granted, one of the dogs would shower the thug with sloppy wet kisses. But the other would de-pants him and then shred everything all the way up to his eyebrows. Any potential burglar will have to find out the hard way which dog is which.

And speaking of the dogs, our insurance company strongly recommended that we hang “Caution, Guard Dog on Duty” signs on our property rather than just the standard “Beware of the Dog,” because the guard-dog signs are supposed to be much more effective at keeping undesirables at bay.

I really didn’t want to hang any signs, but I figured if I didn’t and the dogs ended up de-pantsing someone, I could be sued, and then the insurance company would say, “Sorry! We told you to post those signs and you didn’t! Now we’re not paying!”

So I bought the guard-dog signs and hung them, even though I was pretty sure they not only would discourage burglars from paying a visit, they also would discourage just about everyone else from coming within 100 yards of our place.

A few days after I hung the signs, I received a call from a woman who said she was a tax assessor for the town.

“Now that your house is 100-percent completed,” she said, “we need to assess it at its full value. We went over there the other day and were going to take some outside measurements, but we noticed the sign about the guard dog and decided not to chance it.”

Bless my insurance company.