EDITOR'S COLUMN: How I got labeled a wife beater

Through no fault of my own I’ve been stigmatized as a wife beater.

As with all bad things that happen to me, I never saw it coming. I was flopped out on the couch watching TV while my wife was sleeping in the bedroom. Suddenly, the dog barked, which always means that the cat has come to the front door hoping to be let in. The dog has a sixth sense about this, because from this distance the cat can’t be seen, heard, smelled, felt or tasted. Once the dog barks, the cat disappears for a few more hours.

But this time, the cat wouldn’t go away. In fact, it even started knocking. Golly, I thought, this cat is getting pushy. I waited, hoping the cat would quit its annoying knocking, but it persisted. Finally, I was compelled to walk down the stairs and open the door. I looked down at the cat and saw a pair of black boots, filled not with a cat but with an Island County Sheriff’s deputy. Suddenly I felt guilty, though I didn’t know why.

The deputy informed me that a 911 call made from my house was being investigated. I denied making a 911 call, but the deputy was more persistent than the cat. She wouldn’t go away, even with the dog barking. The dog had been sitting on the floor next to the couch, so I knew he didn’t call 911.

The deputy said the call came from a woman, which fit the description of my wife. I retreated up the stairs to ask her about it, and was surprised to find the deputy, who hadn’t laughed at any of my 911 jokes, on my heels. At this point I realized I was a suspect in a potential crime. I resented the deputy being in my house, but I vaguely remembered reading about a court ruling in which if you leave the door open, the police can come in. It’s the same principle that applies to vampires.

I was afraid the deputy would follow me all the way to the bedroom, which I knew wouldn’t make my wife too happy. So I chose to shout, “Did you call 911!!?” To make a long story short, she had been talking on the bedroom phone, went to sleep, rolled over on the phone, and inadvertently dialed 911. The dispatcher called back, asked if everything was OK, and, being sound asleep, my wife replied, “Huhhhhhhhhhhhhh?” The dispatcher decided this was the sound of a woman being strangled so the deputy was sent to my house.

At this point, the deputy and I were still standing in the hallway and I was starting to remember my manners. Maybe the deputy was hungry. I mentally searched the refrigerator, which was stocked with Eggbeaters, whipped cream and Devil’s food cake, none of which would send the proper message about my peaceful ways. Fortunately, the deputy accepted my wife’s story after mulling it over for a few seconds and left the house, but not before giving me one of those “I know you’re guilty of something” looks.

I know that somewhere out there is a record that police were dispatched to my house after a 911 call, regarding possible domestic violence. I’ve been branded a suspected wife beater. But I learned one important lesson.

Next time the cat knocks, I’m not answering the door.

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