I have already seen a bevy of blogs on Valentines Day, mostly in the negative. While I haven’t really cared about Valentines Day one way or another since high school, I don’t have the passionate hatred that many others seem to exhibit. Yes, it’s actually a day named for an early Christian martyr. Yes, it basically got all its flowery accoutrements because of Chaucer, who was probably doing it in jest. But with my kids, I try to go with it. Last year I rocked our small, somewhat conservative school with my plantable Valentines. This year we’re doing recycled plastic hearts. You know those moms roll their eyes when they see my daughter’s name on things.
For my own part, to mark the idea of Valentines Day being based in courtly, idealized love, I have decided to do a week of love letters. Don’t worry; these aren’t the type I write my husband. Instead I’m writing them to characters, things, and places. Check back throughout the week to read the series.
And now . . .
My dear Columbo (as portrayed by Peter Falk),
Television detectives are not exactly rare birds. There are probably hundreds. And while there will always be a special place in my heart for Jessica Fletcher, you reign as the best of television detectives.
Perhaps it is the chic way in which you tackle the harsh world of crime solving. Even Chanel could not argue with the versatility of a classic trench. Others may wear their dated suits (and sometimes jumpsuits), yet belted or unbelted, you remain effortless but never fussy. Allowing your trench to be constantly rumpled shows that you are no peacock; you are a man who just happens to rock fierce outerwear. Ever the non-conformist, you shirk the shackles of the official LAPD car for your Peugeot 59 convertible. Classic without being ostentatious, you know its value but don’t obsess over it. It’s a white car–washing it would be pointless.
Perhaps it is because not only did you have a Basset Hound (like my grandparents), you had a rescued dog. You let Dog be his own character, not forcing an identity or stupid name on him, letting him swim and have his ice cream too. Thank you for recognizing the importance of rescuing animals rather than shelling out ridiculous sums to encourage overbreeding.
Perhaps it is your shyness and apparent scatter-brained demeanor that hid a razor sharp mind. A pox on those composed, assertive detectives. As someone who comes off as annoying, disjointed, and spacey because of my poor social skills, I worship your ability to exploit your greatest weapon–the power of underestimation. I cheer when you fumble through your pockets, ask for a pen, or lose your place when you talk to suspects, aggravating them and ultimately causing them to reveal too much. Some see through the facade and then you have the brains to outsmart them on their own terms. I confess I use this approach when dealing not just with students but more often when dealing with administration. Like the title of your first episode, I give them “Enough Rope.” It’s a great way to tell them they are wrong without pointing it out directly and being told I have a bad attitude. Better to be ditzy and annoying.
Thank you, Columbo, for teaching me this skill. Although I can never hope to equal your brilliance at it, I frequently look to you for guidance. My husband and I have one great disagreement that shall never be remedied over the course of our marriage: you versus Matlock. The argument my husband presents is that Matlock can cross examine a suspect and then ask for pie. Baked goods. That’s his only point. There is no contest. You are the only one.