**Note: I won’t have internet access for a while, so here’s next week’s column a little early. Hold down the fort for me.**
My wife Kara and I just stared at our jeep sitting in the driveway, naked. I mean the jeep was sitting in the driveway naked, not us, though we had been stripped of some of our security.
“You definitely didn’t take the top down last night?” she asked.
“Nope. I sure didn’t,” I said.
It was a Thursday morning about a year ago, and we had just discovered that the soft top had been stolen off our jeep, which was parked right in front of our house, during the night. The year before that, at our old apartment complex, the stereo head unit had been yanked out of the dashboard, leaving a gaping hole, a tangle of hastily cut wires and my desire to reinstate Hammurabi’s Code.
Leaving a jeep with a soft top unattended overnight is like parking a giant Twinkie next to an elementary school playground, expecting it to still be there when you return. (Kids these days still eat Twinkies, don’t they? From the looks of ‘em, I’m going to guess yes.) There’s just no good way to secure a jeep, other than parking it inside a bigger car made of metal and glass, or perhaps inside a garage, but who can actually fit a car in the garage with all those old tennis balls and rusty bikes in the way?
We had been toying with the idea of selling the jeep anyway – jeeps somehow manage to combine the fuel efficiency of an Abrams tank with the carrying capacity of a newborn burro – and having the roof stolen was the last straw. We replaced the soft top and sold the jeep two weeks later.
This whole episode was just a distant, expensive memory until last week, when the detective called. They caught the guy stealing something else, and for some reason (hopefully extreme duress), he admitted to stealing our jeep top, too. The detective asked me if I wanted him to arrest the guy, which should have been the easiest question I’ve ever been asked, but then I started thinking about how maybe the guy needed our jeep top to build a crude shelter for his family, or how maybe he had to cut it into small pieces and sauté it in rainwater just to feed his children one more meal.
Just kidding. “Yes! Please, arrest him,” I said. “If you could taser him, too, that would be cool.”
The detective brought a deposition over to our house, which gave me the rare opportunity to sign an official police document other than a speeding ticket. The detective scored extra points for not reacting even the slightest bit as our ferret crawled over his shoes and into the folds of his overcoat. These guys must go through some intense anti-flinching training.
The next step now is for me and Kara to meet with the assistant district attorney, which I’m really excited about, because if there’s anything I’ve learned from watching Law and Order reruns every night for the past four years, it’s that assistant district attorneys are really, really hot. Also, different hot women rotate into the position every couple of seasons. By the time they get promoted to regular old district attorneys, though, they turn into craggy old men.
The long and short of it is that we’ll probably get the old jeep top back, which works out just perfectly for us, because we sold the jeep last year. Wait, no, that’s not perfect at all. What are we going to do with a beat-up old jeep top? I can already feel the pack rat genes my Dad gave me stirring deep in my soul, saying, “Put it in the garage. You never know when you might need it.”