I have never owned anything worth stealing. When I was in college, my car was so full of useless crap that I spent two weeks wondering why I'd put an unfolded metal hanger on my passenger seat before I realized someone had used it to unlock my door and swipe my broken radar detector and Bruce Hornsby CDs. My lovely wife Cassandra, however, has lots of stuff worth stealing. Though I suspect that very few thieves are 5 ft. 10 in., size-6 women with boho-chic taste. I'd say we are safe until hard times fall on Sienna Miller.
Nevertheless, Cassandra has been arguing that we should install a home-alarm system since we moved to L.A. six years ago. Growing up, her family didn't have an alarm because she lived in a small town without any crime. My family had an alarm because we lived in a huge suburb without any crime. And the alarm bummed me out. Not only was it a daily reminder that we believed people weren't to be trusted, but the only people it ever scared was us. About every two weeks.
But once I realized that whenever I went on a business trip, Cassandra put a serrated knife under her pillow--I'm guessing so that she could foil intruders by slicing bagels and throwing them at them--I folded. We got an ADT system that made her very happy. I refused to learn how to use it, but at least I now had the peace of mind that came with knowing she wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night with a row of small symmetrical cuts on her cheek.
Then recently, on the path we hike a few times a week, just blocks from our house, a woman found a severed human head. And some guy set fire to 55 cars and homes in our neighborhood. And my editor at Time left this voice mail: "Call me right away. Don't worry, you're not in trouble." It turned out that people on an al-Qaeda website mentioned me--along with Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger and Rupert Murdoch--in a discussion about people they'd like to assassinate. I'd hate to know what my editor's idea of trouble is.
Cassandra wanted more security. Especially because when the alarm we already had went off at night, I didn't react all that well, in that I kept sleeping. Eventually Cassandra had to wake me up. "You just mumbled and put on a robe and walked upstairs," she told me afterward. "Most guys would have jumped out of bed, said, 'Babe, you stay here' and grabbed a baseball bat." I am pretty sure Cassandra is more attracted to ADT than she is to me.