Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I Learned in Miami

A couple nights ago I got desperate. I could not find a single thing to watch on the ridiculously profuse list of channels we pay for, so I had to settle for – gasp – CSI: Miami. I’m a pretty big fan of the crime drama genre, and the original CSI in particular, but most days I just can’t stomach the soap opera-esque plots lines and ho-hum acting of the Miami franchise. Ever watch a telenovela? Same concept.
The most uncomfortable part of every episode, for me, is the opening. Some crazy stuff goes down, probably having to do with drugs or terrorists or drug terrorists, and Horatio and the crew show up. The fat detective makes a painfully obvious observation of events, and then ol’ Ginger Face delivers his trademark opening comeback line. Tripp points out the irony of a clown being killed by a poisoned slice of pie. Horatio takes off his sunglasses, puts on the serious face, and pronounces, “Well, Frank…this was no laughing matter.” Yeaaaaaaahhh! We don’t get fooled again…
It didn’t take very many episodes for me to pick up the weird part though. Every time Horatio delivers that stupendous line, which sounds like something written for Arnold Schwarzenegger and delivered by William Shatner, he turns his body away from the camera and whomever he’s speaking to. He actually has to turn his head to address them. Uh-oh, I’ve seen that stance before. It the same maneuver I’ve seen my husband pull when he jumps out of bed and discovers, to his embarrassment, that he’s sporting an uninvited boner. He talks over his shoulder very casually, but won’t face me. So what the heck is going on in Miami? Is Horatio Caine so impressed by his clever line that he needs to hide his excitement? Maybe he has a very secret case of necrophilia. I’m not sure if The Who are screaming at the corny opening line, or they’re as horrified as I am!
In case I’m not making myself clear, I can’t stand that character. Nothing about him is believable. He’s one of the ugliest guys on network TV, and I’m supposed to buy that all these hot women get crushes on him? Maybe they’re just attracted to the fact that he has such a responsive…uh, “team.” Plus the writers make him out to be Captain Do-Gooder who can instinctually tell the difference between a victim and a criminal. He’s going to bust some serious chops when it comes to criminals. He’s a one-man army, ready to single-handedly take out the biggest drug cartel in the city. If you’re a victim, however, be prepared for him to hand you a fat roll of cash or pull some invisible strings to get you just the thing you need to turn your life around. How, you ask? Doesn’t matter. He’s Horatio.
One of the things I’ve always found most unbelievable about the Caine character is his willingness to give random people the benefit of the doubt. On the episode I watched Monday night, Horatio’s worthless sleazebag of an Ex was being a bad parent, as usual. She was late for some appointment, yelling at the son for not waking her up on time, and forcing him to drive way too fast. I don’t even know where she and this son came from - I thankfully miss a lot of episodes - but I have to admit he does resemble his on-TV dad. Burn the kid’s eyebrows off and he’d be almost spot on. So when the two of them are brought to Horatio by the police, does he tell her what a moron she is? Does he point out what a selfish, good-for-nothing mom she is? Nope. He’s very polite and gives her some irrefutable one-line counsel that makes everything better. I wanted to punch them both.
But it got me thinking. (I bet you thought this didn’t have a point, didn’t you?) What’s so bad about giving someone the benefit of the doubt? What’s wrong with accepting someone’s best, even when it’s not even close to good enough? I walk through life constantly judging people and situations. Why? So I can help if the need is great enough, of course. I’ll “help” by giving the evil eye to someone who parked in a handicap space without the proper tag. I’ll tell my little sister that her friend is a bad influence and will only get into more trouble as time goes on. I’ll shake my head when I see a baby in a shopping cart without being buckled in. I have to be constantly judging these things so I can step in and save a life. I could change the world!
Get. A. Grip. Some things I say might change a person’s mind, but it’s almost always going to be a person that comes to me. I don’t usually listen to, let alone consider, any unsolicited advice. What makes me think other people are going to appreciate it? But I have to look out for the safety of the innocent, right? I don’t know about that. A properly buckled baby might have soda in her sippy cup. She might be smacked around by her big brother at home. She might be left alone in a play pen for hours while her mom watches TV. Or, there’s the very distinct possibility that her mom adores her but just doesn’t use the buckle. Oh well. There will never be a day when I can parent every child on the planet, or even just the ones in my area. Why would I want to? Can you imagine the stress?! I’m not even totally sure I’m raising my own children right. I can’t make decisions for teenagers. I can’t make a man more thoughtful. I can’t change another person’s personality, life experience, or thought processes.
The bottom line is, I’ve only got me. Sure, there will be situations where someone’s life hangs in the balance and it would be wrong of me to ignore it. But 99.9% of the time, that’s not the situation, and really, it’s none of my business. People will do what people will do. I can only change myself, and I think I’d enjoy life a lot more if I focused my reasoning skills only on my personal situations. I consider myself pretty non-judgmental when it comes to the big stuff – religion, race, sexual orientation. It’s the little stuff that I’ve been hanging onto, walking around with a mental clipboard, deciding who is doing it right and who is definitely clueless.
I’ve decided to try minding my own business for a change. I’m going to try to apply my sense of right and wrong to my life only. This is a whole new concept for me and I’m not entirely sure where to start. Do I close my eyes to everything around me? How can I observe without forming an opinion? Maybe I need to watch a few more episodes of CSI: Miami and takes some tips from a certain redhead. Who knows, maybe I’ll even start to get all hot and bothered over my own ingenious remarks. One-liner wood, here I come!