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JANUARY 26, 2007 – ONLY IN MODERATION

“I’m a Homicide Detective. That’s a fancy name for Murder.”

This is Lt. Collier Bonnabal’s opening line to the 1950 B-Level Film-Noir, TENSION. A mostly unremarkable 95 minutes spit out by MGM and starring nobody you’ve heard of, with the exception of a young, yet still rotund, pre-“Cannon” William Conrad.

Even though I was just a kid when I first saw it, (and no, not in the actual movie theater. Smartass. I may have some salt in the pepper but I’m not that old) that first line grabbed me: ‘Homicide Detective … Murder.’ Cool.

There was another line that always stuck with me. Lt. Bonnabal (possibly the worst Movie Cop Name ever) is having a tough time on a case. He goes to his favorite watering hole to think it through. The waitress saunters up.

Waitress: ‘What’ll it be?’
Lt. Bonnabal: ‘Irish.’ (She sets an entire bottle on his table. He takes a shot.)
Lt. Bonnabal: (to himself) ‘That’s good Irish.’

I never said they were good lines, I just said they stuck with me. Cops and Whiskey. They used to go together like peanut butter and jelly (never while on duty, of course, and only in moderation.) Seems like these days all the rookies are drinking overpriced vodka & Red Bull and everyone’s allergic to peanuts.

I don’t usually imbibe like I did in my rookie days. My current position in the Department tends to eat up most of my time. Plus, showing up hung-over to a triple-murder scene involving blunt force trauma is never a good idea, especially after a 3 a.m. round at Theresa’s Tamale Shack on the PCH.

But, even after learning such gut-churning lessons, I understand why some guys (and gals) turn to the sauce when a case is getting the better of them. Being a Robbery-Homicide Detective isn’t something you do, it’s something you are. 24/7. It’s a life and death game of Cat & Mouse with a never-ending supply of mice. You miss anniversary dinners, birthday parties and little league games.

You are paid by Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public with the understanding that you will catch criminals and protect them. And when you cannot do that for whatever reason it really, really pisses you off.

And then when you add on top of that certain people, people who knew what they were getting into when they agreed to marry you, still giving you grief over the aforementioned missed event Two Years Later … it tends to make you thirsty.

And it’s not like you can change anything. I mean, last time you checked you weren’t the only guy on the block who DIDN’T have a TIME MACHINE. Because God knows that if you DID have a TIME MACHINE you would have used it a long time ago to go back and fix all your screw ups and missed opportunities. And maybe then you’d still be sleeping in the house you paid for instead of staying up all night watching old movies on AMC in the house you’re renting.

So yeah, I can understand why some folks who may know better would want to have a couple of pops and blow off some steam. Why do you think there are Cop Bars? But never while on duty, of course, and only in moderation.

I should call my cable company and see if they carry the Sleuth channel. That’d be good.

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