Monday, September 10, 2007

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Guilt

It didn't start with CSI: Miami, you know. It never starts that way. It starts with a gateway event and eventually leads to a full-blown addiction to grisly special effects, questionable science and supremely bad acting.

CSI: Miami is just the end result of a lifetime of exposure toTrue Crime stories and scenery gnawing TV actors like William Shatner and the current heir to his throne ... David "Horatio Caine" Caruso. Truly, like his namesake, the Caruso of his Craft.

So where were the tiny acorns of a habit like this planted, and how were they nurtured into the towering oak of guilty pleasure they became?

It's 1966 and I'm twelve years old. My parents are out for the evening, my sister is out on a date and I'm alone in the house. Way off at the far end of the house, down a long dark hallway, in my room, reading In Cold Blood while the house slowly grew increasingly dark outside of my room, and the kitchen (where we kept the phone) moved farther away with every page. About the time I came to the grisly photo section in the middle of the book, I realized that I had two choices. I could put the book down and face whatever evil and mayhem now lurked in the darkness of my house, or I could keep reading and try not to think about it. It was at that precise moment I developed my lifelong habit of reading books from cover to cover in one sitting. Especially ones that scare the jumping bejesus out of me. I'm almost certain that this habit has led to my ability to hold a prodigious amount of urine in my bladder, thereby avoiding the necessity of walking out of a perfectly good lighted room and into an unlighted bathroom.

I didn't read any more true crime books after In Cold Blood. Not until 1974, and the publication of Vincent Bugliosi's 689 page bladder-buster, Helter Skelter. I was a married woman in 1974, so I must have read this one in the comfort of my own living room in my own apartment, but I sure as hell don't remember it that way. In my mind, I've read all my grisly true crime books in that same small bedroom at the end of the long hallway in my parent's house, and always when I was twelve.

Deviant psychology, aberrant behavior, brain-twistingly abhorrent acts of human cruelty ... with photos! I was hooked.

Ann Rule terrified me with Small Sacrifices, Everything She Ever Wanted and The Stranger Beside Me. Tongue-twisting place names like Snohomish, Snoqualmie and Yelm, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of the Pacific Northwest, now harbored charming sociopaths like Ted Bundy and murderous mothers like Diane Downs. I still can't hear "Hungry Like a Wolf" without getting gooseflesh.

Harold Schecter's Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein introduced me to the man with his mother's exhumed body upstairs and the cadaverous skin suit on her dressmaker's dummy, who inspired "Psycho" and "Silence of the Lambs."

So you see, it was no stretch to form an addiction to Jerry Bruckheimer and his special effect masterpieces. Who isn't fascinated by tubs of liquified human adipocere, body dumps, close-ups of bullet trajectories through human flesh and flash-fried folks? Hell, I'm not even picky. I love the whole array of crime shows. CSI (Las Vegas, New York and Miami), Cold Case Files, Without a Trace, NCIS, Numb8rs, and my absolute favorite, Criminal Minds.

But I do feel sort of guilty about Horatio Caine.


Anonymous said...

It was 1990 and, panic was large. In a few days 5 college students were found murdered and, some dismembered. Before that a child in a neighboring town. Multiple Law enfrocement from all over swarmed the city and, those on the out skirts figured the killer had been flushed out to us. I was working in a lab outside of town in a bio industrial complex. The lab was glass walled and, open to pasture all around. I could not see out but, anyone could see in. And, I was being called in at all times of the night to run samples. Tissues of the victims. Having previously read such as you mentioned and, with current events, I experienced fear like I never want to again. Besides as Ev will agree. It is not right for women in Lab coats to be compelled to walk around with a gun strapped on. Rot in Hell Ted.:Diane

Kwach said...

Diane, I don't envy you that job!

I remember after reading Helter Skelter that the scariest thing in the book, to me, wasn't the actual murders. It was the description of the way the family "creepy crawled" several houses in the dark of night before they ever committed any murders. They would break into random houses, crawl around in the dark looking at the people and handling their things, and then creep out again.

That stuck with me for years.


This explains so much, Ms Ev.

Anonymous said...

I didn't care for the job either Lori. Real Estate is way less stressful. Danny Rolling and, the attention he got from prison really does not sit well here. I hesitate mentioning his name but, did so for clarity :Diane

Ev said...

LOL...Cedar, I hope it explains something about Lori, and not something about me and my taste in partners.

Although now that I think about it, the two are inextricably linked. :-)