Friday, March 11, 2011

It Takes a Thief

Gabriella Herkert

Catnapped and Doggone

Fascination with crime. Yeah, that’s us, alright. All of us. And yes, it will make attractive men move away from me in bars even after they’ve shelled out for a drink. Something about them imagining me naked while I measure them for trunk transportation. But fascination, or obsession, are impossible to deny and so, I remain committed (or maybe should be committed) to my utter devotion to seeking out the less than socially acceptable.

First of all, I love Jeannie’s stupids. And the police blotter. Stupid criminals done right. But while I find them entertaining, and a good place for a belly laugh, I am not fascinated by the mindless. I am also not “fascinated” by the psychotic or truly evil. I write about those individuals because I don’t get it. My mind, my intellectual curiousity, sends me down that round so I can figure it out. It’s not fascination. It’s equal parts confusion and revulsion with a dash of sick sells. We’re all writing because we’re writers and that’s what we do but we’re all smart enough to know that paying the rent and eating a couple of times a day are important, too.

The crimes that really call to me, not just as an intellectual exercise but as a potential future career choice (please don’t tell my mother), are the smart, stylish crimes. The no one gets physically hurt, the police shake their heads and the forensic team can’t figure out how it could happen crimes. Jewel heists in the middle of a gallery gala. The middle of the night smash and grab of great masterpieces. The still unsolved Gardner museum swipe. I want my crimes to be meticulously planned, precisely executed and oh so cool. Cucumber cool.

Naturally, I have become obsessed with White Collar, a television show of smart, sexy (even with an ankle bracelet) Neal Caffrey. Except for getting caught, he totally had it going on. From jewels to forged documents to live on the lam the looked a lot like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The planning, sometimes years, and patience that went into his jobs appeals to my methodical I don’t really want to go to jail while still wanting the adrenaline rush mind set. Then, there’s the actual moment. Smooth as silk. Each contingency accounted for. Master plotting. Great characters and so much style.

In the real world, there have been Neal Caffreys. Bill Mason lifted a gold medal from Johnny Weismuller. It isn’t just the target of his theft – although a gold medal isn’t your everyday snatch and frankly has a quirk to it I enjoy in my obsessive crimes – but it’s the fact that he took on Tarzan. That is a story for the grandkids. Doris Payne, all 79 years of her and confined to a wheel chair, is a lifelong jewel thief. Recently arrested for helping herself to a thirty thousand dollar Neiman Saks ring, she’s the subject of a biopic starring Halle Berry. Not only has she still got it going on (despite the recent arrests which I attribute to her senior citizen inability to move with purpose), she’s so fly Oscar-winning actress, fifty most beautiful people Halle Berry has been cast to play her. For those of us worried that Phyllis Diller is more likely to get the role of our lifetime, the felon envy here is pretty big.

And then, not to be outdone, are the elusive, never been caught, mystery men and women. What are they like? Are they white picket fence, good church goers by day, master art thieves at night? School teachers with an apple on their desks plotting the liberation of the royal jewels during naptime? Or the guy sitting next to me on the airplane, pretending to read Freakonomics while his mind whirls through the security system at the Louvre? Their fascination is amplified by the “I don’t know” factor. Who? Where? Why? How do you choose the target? How do you pick the team? How do you fence the goods? Why have you never been caught? Tell me, tell me, tell me. I’m dying here. Thus, fascination becomes obsession. And obsession becomes a great read.

Thanks for reading me today.


1 comment:

Reece said...

Nice post, Gabi. You reminded of me how great those heist movies were with the super-cool, debonair thieves. Makes me want to go rent "To Catch A Thief" or "The Thomas Crown Affair."