I’ve been watching Unsolved Mysteries again. It’s on every night at eight. My VCR is set to Record Perpetually.
Robert Stack announced so many episodes that I know his voice better than my father’s. I have dreams in which he is my father. I was crushed to hear of his passing, but then I saw an episode in which Stack said, “Although I am dead, inexplicably my voice continues to announce this program. If you have any information…”
I’m not proud of my fixation with the show. It’s like passing an accident on the freeway: You don’t want to look, but you do. And part of you hopes for the worst.
Night after night, Unsolved Mysteries reveals murder, abduction, bludgeoning—a grisly parade of Jon-Benet Ramseys. If it were fiction, you wouldn’t believe it. Some killers bury the body; others think that they will be the first to get away with throwing it in the river. So it goes.
And I just stare, unable to believe it, unable to stop.
Recently, I saw an episode about Ira Einhorn, the hippie icon who, among accomplishments, killed his girlfriend. He neither buried the body nor threw it in the river but kept it locked inside his closet (talk about skeletons).
When the show ended, I kept thinking... How did this man go about the day with his girlfriend decaying five feet away? How do you eat your Fruit Loops under those conditions? From all accounts, Ira’s hygiene was such that he couldn’t smell the difference.
Then, of course, there are the stories of UFOs, ghosts, people who talk to animals. And I believe them all, every last one. More, more, more.
Unsolved Mysteries has given me the full-time goose bumps. I jog with an uneasy feeling that I might trip on a corpse. I consider anyone who drives a van to be a rape suspect. Friends won’t visit anymore because I insist on polygraph testing. Before I go to bed, I lock the doors twice and slip the dog a No-Doz. I can’t use the bathroom without hearing Stack’s voice:
“A man gets up to use the restroom as he had so many times before, only to find an unexpected visitor…”
You can’t skip the reruns, either, because you never know when there will be an…
“UPDATE: Ira Einhorn was captured in the south of France living with his girlfriend, who evidently has no sense of smell.”
I know the program is performing a service to aid the authorities, but I feel that it has consumed my last tittle of innocence. Whatever hope I had for mankind is cowering in the corner beneath a fort of sofa cushions.
My wife has forbidden me to watch the show, so I tune in while she’s shopping (what if I am the one with that critical piece of information?).
Researchers continue to study people like me, who just can’t get their fill. As yet, they have been unable to explain our fascination. Until they do, we will remain … an unsolved mystery.