EVERY NIGHT just before bedtime, I go on a little patrol around the house.
First I make sure the front door is locked. Then I check the back door. Then the side door. Then the ground floor windows.
Then I check the front door again to make sure some psycho killer hasn't jimmied the lock in the interim and is now wandering the house taking attendance with a machete.
Only after checking all the doors and windows can I attempt to sleep, secure in the knowledge that we won't all be murdered in our beds -- at least for the next few minutes.
Understand, it is not really your garden-variety burglar that I'm worried about here. If a burglar broke into my house, all he'd make off with would be a few hundred bucks worth of Fisher-Price and Mattel toys.
The TV sure won't do him any good; in fact, he'll be lucky if it's even there, since it spends most of the time in the repair shop. The VCR is so complicated to program it would stump a team of NASA technicians. And there's never any cash lying around the house, as most of our cash is funneled into Don's TV Repair, where (maybe I already mentioned this) our 28-inch Admiral is seeking permanent residency status.
So now you picture this burglar, fresh from hitting my house, trying to fence his haul on the street.
"Yo, check it out, fellas. Got a Big Wheels, a Baby Grows and a Mr. Potato Head over here. Over there we got a dozen Barbies, plus accessories, not to mention Bert and Ernie's Playhouse. Batteries not included on that G.I. Joe support tank, my man."
Maybe you see what I'm getting at here. A burglar breaks into my place to support a $200-a-day cocaine habit, he better plan on making a few more house calls before the night's over.
Of course, if I had any say in that matter, I would just as soon NOT have a burglar wandering through my house. It's just that most of my efforts in the home security field are directed at keeping the psycho killers at bay.
(This is probably neither here nor there, but as a general rule, women tend to be less security conscious than men. A woman looks at, say, an open window on the third floor of her house and thinks: There's no way an intruder could get in there.
(Whereas a man knows that all the intruder needs is a 22-foot extension ladder, grappling hooks, a hydraulic pulley and the vertical leap of Michael Jordan and -- BOOM! -- he could be through that open window in no time.
(And the next sound you'd hear would be maniacal laughter and a chain saw roaring to life. No, sir. You can't be too careful with those third-floor windows, is my motto.)
That reminds me of the old movies where the young couple is sitting in the living room with the screen door open and the breeze fluttering through the windows when a bulletin comes on the TV: "We interrupt this program to tell you that four convicted murderers have just escaped from the state prison. They are considered armed and dangerous."
But instead of screaming "AARRGGHH! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!" and scrambling to their feet to close the windows and bolt the door, these ninnies just sit there!
Talk about stupid. You might as well put up a neon sign on the porch with the message: "THE ANDERSONS WELCOME STATE PRISON ESCAPEES. ASK ABOUT OUR SHORT-STAY RATES."
Sure enough, within minutes the escaped convicts are climbing through an open window and waving a gun at the startled couple and forcing them into the hall closet for the next two weeks.
Well, that's never going to happen to me, pal. Even if I hear about a prison break-out in, oh, Wyoming, my house goes on "High Security Alert" and I start boiling lye on the stove as a little greeting.
Believe me, you won't catch me munching on pretzels and watching "thirtysomething" with half the west wing of San Quentin peeking through my azalea bushes.
It's funny, friends often say to me: Listen, if you're so nervous about intruders, why not get yourself a gun for protection?
To which I respond: Are you kidding me? That's all I need. If I ever whipped a gun out at someone, I'd be so nervous I'd end up shooting myself in the foot.
Personally, I don't see that scaring off the intruder.
Unless he's laughing so hard that he has to leave the premises to calm down.