#29: The Case of the Heartbroken Schoolboy
Status: Solved

Dear Shut-In Detectives,

This is a question from my dear friend Jay. Jay asks “Why doesn’t the girl in my acting class like me?” To collect more clues, e-mail [address withheld].

Best regards,

The Shut-Ins appreciated the offer of more details, but were reluctant to e-mail someone they’d never met, as they feared she might try to trick them into viewing pornography. Apparently, this sort of thing happens all the time. Instead, the cousins decided to solve the mystery based on their experience with other people named Jay. The Shut-Ins have known several Jays and can say, with assurance, that Jays are self-absorbed and not much fun at parties. They never pick up the check. Also, they borrow things and then don’t return them for, like, five years. The acting classmate doesn’t like him, in short, because he’s a grade-A dillhole. C. would do well to follow the actress’s lead and sever all ties.

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#30: The Case of the Talented Umbrella
Status: Solved

Dear Shut-Ins,

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I bought a nice big shiny silver umbrella from the MoMA Design Store. It was on sale, just $12 instead of $48! We’d been needing a larger, higher-quality brolly for months, since our others had all fallen apart, as umbrellas, especially cheap ones, usually do.

We brought it home unused—and then it vanished. Neither of us can remember ever using it or moving it. We’ve combed the apartment: nothing. Obviously, we need your help. This is destroying our relationship! (Well, not really.)


The Shut-Ins lose things all the time, and they know that these mysteries can be the hardest mysteries to solve, especially if you’re not actually present to overturn the furniture and upend the trash cans. There was only one way the sleuths could solve the mystery from afar: by reenacting it.

Jenny played M. “You are so careless!” she shouted. “You lose our things all the time! We might as well just put our cash straight in the garbage!” “You’re one to talk!” Peter returned, playing the girlfriend. “Spending all our money on scratch-off tickets and pyramid schemes!” “I’m just trying to build a better life for us!” “You’re such a liar!”

Things quickly got heated, and after half an hour or so, the detectives were more confused than ever. “Wait a minute,” Jenny interrupted. “Are we still acting?”

“No, I really meant it when I called you a selfish pig,” Peter replied, “but you just gave me a wonderful idea.” He paused and stroked his chin. “This mystery is, in fact, all about acting—about performance,” Peter continued. “The museum umbrella isn’t an ordinary umbrella at all, but a performance art umbrella. The disappearance is simply part of the act. It’s not missing — it’s art.”

The mystery was solved. The detectives further concluded that performance art really isn’t art at all but a big fat waste of time.