That was my attempt at a pun. Get it? Get it?

I watch a lot of crime dramas on TV. Something I see over and over drives me crazy: Who are all these neat-living people? So many of the homes of victims/suspects are in “for sale” condition. Are SOME people neat like that? Yes, of course. But the conclusions announced by the police characters blow my mind. Dirty dishes in the sink signal either “drug addict with obviously out of control life” or “kidnapped while eating.” You know what it signals to me? The full dishwasher is running, and these get to be next in line tomorrow.

A recent CSI rerun (an otherwise excellent one) had them examining the home of a slaughtered family. The kids’ beds were all made. The parents’ bed was not. I think it was Marg Helgenberger’s character who observed that the kids were together but “the parents lived like THIS?” “This”? Really? An unmade bed is “this”?

How about an unmade bed is “who cares?” or “I got up in answer to the baby crying and never went back to the bedroom” or “morning sex made me late for work” or “I want coffee more than I want to tuck in the sheets”? Confession time: my bed is unmade RIGHT NOW. PS–my kids’ beds are unmade too.

Then, they looked in the drawers. A drawer of men’s underwear was neatly organized. One CSI specifically noted that the boxer shorts had been “pressed” and says: “At least Dad’s needs are being met.”

NEEDS? Ironed, folded underwear is a NEED? And “being met” implying that some caretaker (ie–wife, or, in this case, overburdened child) is doing it for him? Sheesh. CLEAN underwear is a need. Anything more than that is very nice, but hardly a “need” to be “met.” And Dad can iron his own underwear.

Of course some people really are naturally neat, or have neatness as a high priority, and/or have a lifestyle that is easier to keep neat (no kids/older kids, and/or a housekeeping parent at home, and/or everyone working/schooling out of the house all day, and/or cleaning help). But it’s a big leap from “some people keep their houses in catalog photoshoot condition” to “an unmade bed or dirty dishes signals an unstable life or foul play.”

C’mon, TV set dressers! Sure, some homes are meant to be grand and aspirational (ie–every home on CSI Miami). But when you’re set-dressing a condo with roommates? Or a family home with a new baby? Sometimes, just sometimes, there may be a stack of pizza boxes, or dirty clothes on the floor. And it doesn’t mean the residents were kidnapped while eating or undressing.

It means they were tired, and housework is boring, and something good was on TV.

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