#19: The Case of the Tantrum
OR Why Does Everything Bad Happen to Jenny?
One recent morning Jenny woke up and found her new computer had died overnight. Her tendonitis was acting up, she had a toothache, and on top of everything else, a pimple was gathering force on her chin. It was all too much, and she flung herself down on the floor in a tantrum. “Why does everything bad happen to me?” she demanded.
The Shut-Ins realized they had another mystery on their hands and immediately set to solving it. “Maybe it’s because you’re whiny and pessimistic,” Peter offered. Jenny thought it was because she had it coming. “I cheat at games and generally treat people badly,” she admitted. But Peter pointed out that this sort of behavior often made one successful. “Besides,” he said, “You don’t have it so bad. We know lots of people who are worse off. Our friend K——, for instance, has terrible hair and a stupid job. D—— has psoriasis and bad teeth and he’ll probably die alone.”
The mystery was suspended when the Shut-Ins realized that thinking about the misfortunes of others had cheered Jenny up considerably. The tantrum had been aborted. The cousins spent the rest of the morning shouting obscenities at the tech-support line, and by lunch they were in high spirits indeed.
#20: The Case of the Missing Houseplants
Recently, a friend of the Shut-Ins asked them to care for her houseplants when she went out of town. When she sweetened the deal by promising to lend them her Nintendo GameCube, the sleuths agreed, and soon the plants were installed on their back porch.
Shortly thereafter the cousins found themselves very absorbed in The Legend of Zelda, and they forgot to water the plants. Their back porch gets a lot of sun and wind and within a week most of the plants had died. The Shut-Ins chalked up the loss to the circle of life, for such is nature. Then, two days later, all the plants disappeared. Where had they gone?
Peter thought they might have decayed into compost. Jenny disagreed, as they’d disappeared without a trace. Had they blown away? Had they spontaneously combusted? Had they been consumed by wild animals, pots and all?
The Shut-Ins solved the mystery a few days later when, while spying on the downstairs neighbors to see if they were, in fact, nudists, as the cousins suspected, they saw the plants on the neighbors’ kitchen counter. The plants had been resurrected with a little tender care, and they seemed to be doing well.
The mystery was solved. The plants had not been stolen, but rescued, and the Shut-Ins were too embarrassed to ask for them back. They debated buying replacement plants for their vacationing friend, but decided against it, because they’d been doing her a favor in the first place.
#21: The Case of the Sucky Takeout
Because the Shut-Ins get sick of cereal and canned meat, they sometimes order food in. Their favorite establishment is the local taqueria, and it is their habit to patronize it several times a week. Recently, however, they noticed the quality of the fare had gone down considerably. The cousins’ orders arrived cold and mixed-up. The dishes’ appearance and taste suggested they had been run over by a delivery bike. And on two separate occasions, Peter found a Band-Aid in his taquitos. Why had their favorite takeout place suddenly started sucking?
Peter thought they had hired some new and inept employees. Jenny shook her head. “We still have the same delivery guy. The same lady still takes the phone orders, and she still says, ’Oh—it’s you,’ in the same hostile tone.”
It occurred to the Shut-Ins that this might be a clue. Perhaps the taqueria employees did not enjoy the cousins’ insistence on ordering in a crude “Spanglish” that consisted of adding “-o” to every word. Peter and Jenny’s off-color jokes about churros might not be considered charming, nor, perhaps, was their habit of tipping the delivery guy with expired sardines.
They mystery was solved. The Shut-Ins had brought the bad takeout on themselves, and they’d gotten off easy with a couple Band-Aids. They briefly contemplated trying to be nicer people, but realized that was quite beyond them, and decided to stick to well-sealed products like canned meat from now on.
#22: The Case of the Lonely Detectives OR Why Doesn’t Anyone Ask Us Out?
One evening, after drinking more than is their habit, the Shut-Ins found themselves in a maudlin and introspective mood. Draining his second Brandy Alexander, Peter asked, “Why is it, dear cousin, that no one ever asks us out? You, in particular, are what they call a ‘catch.’ If your mood swings are any indication, you are still fertile, and your uncommonly wide midsection suggests you’d bear children easily. And yet no man has snapped you up. How can that be?”
“I could ask the same about you,” Jenny replied. “You are fun company. Those deeply carved lines around your mouth and eyes suggest you laugh easily and often. And yet, here you sit, alone.” Peter shook his head. “It’s a mystery, indeed.” What was the cause?
“Perhaps it’s because we so rarely leave the house,” Jenny suggested. Peter countered that this often heightened one’s allure. Wasn’t Greta Garbo the most pursued woman in the world?
Well, then, perhaps astrology was to blame. Peter disagreed. “We’re different signs. We can’t be under the same bad star. But maybe the problem is bad feng shui.” Jenny dissented. “That can’t be, either, because feng shui is a load of crap.”
The cousins were stymied. But a few hours later, as they settled into late-night TV, the mystery solved itself. As a talk show reminded the detectives, people are often single because they are too hot. “The answer, in a phrase, is that we’re too sexy for our shirts,” Jenny announced. Peter nodded in agreement. “There’s a perp, all right, and it’s our own damned attractiveness.” The Shut-Ins toasted each other’s tragic allure before falling asleep in their respective chairs, where they remained, snoring delicately, until morning.