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Keep Houston Press Free
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Watching Law & Order Has Made Me Afraid of Public Restrooms

So I know I'm not the only nutjob who comes home from work, puts on a little TNT to catch a rerun of Law & Order, then realizes five hours later that the whole evening has passed her by and she has once again spent more time with Lennie Briscoe than her own husband.

The point is, watching so much Law & Order has made me afraid of public restrooms. Not just restrooms, but parking garages, alleys, car trunks, and parks. Why? Because I'm constantly imagining I'm going to find a dead body there.

It's how every episode of the original (and still the best) L&O starts. Some extras are bantering back and forth - running in the park, arguing outside a restaurant, playing with their kids in the playground - and bam. Cadaver. Just sittin' there. Or actually, laying there. Sometimes with some bruises around the head and neck, sometimes with a big ol' pool of blood pouring out of their noses. Sometimes with a glove or a baseball bat nearby. Sometimes nothing.

I wonder how many two-bit actors have been cast as "the ones who discover the body" in the history of Law & Order. Sometimes they just have one or two bits of dialogue, usually along the lines of, "Oh my God, Jerry, call the police!" But sometimes, if they're lucky, they get to have a little back and forth with Lennie and his partner after the opening credits, where they tell the detectives a little bit about what they know. ("I could always hear them fighting in the apartment." Or "She was a crazy one, visitors in and out at all hours." Or "I never liked him. He played his music so loud.")

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More often than not, however, they are just glimpsed for a few seconds as they react to the shock of finding a dead body where they never expected one to be. And they've rubbed off on me, these people, causing me to fear every remote public space where the next police case could be hiding.

Sigh. These are the things that I think about. This is what takes up my brain space. Don't know if that's good or bad or what. I'm just being honest with you.

-- Jennifer Mathieu

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