Things I Might Say To That Rumpled Little Detective From The LAPD Who Keeps Turning Up On The Doorstep Of My Palatial Home With Incessant Little Questions Just As I'm Leaving For A Board Meeting

Things I will not say to Detective Columbo

“What an amusing theory! But…”

“What an entertaining theory! But…”

“What an amusing little man you are! But…”

“Yes, yes, all right, if it’s only for a minute, come in.”

If he suggests that something about the official timeline of events before and after the murder does not add up, I will not offer a substitute theory to satisfy his problem. I will sit with my own discomfort, and meditate, and watch it pass, as all things eventually pass.

If he tells me some small detail bothers him, and asks for my help, I will neither take it as fuel for my smug security and offer to clear things up to him out of misguided largesse, nor impatiently show off how great my “fake murder” plan was and accidentally commit myself to affirming a tiny, seemingly-inconsequential detail that undeniably damns me.

If the detective says “What a coincidence,” almost as if to himself, I will not ask him what he means.

If the detective asks to see my watch, I will not show him my watch, either with an air of amused condescension or without!

If the detective asks me how much something in my home costs, rather than sniffing before begrudgingly revealing my nouveau riche soul, I will ask him if I am under arrest, and if I am not, I will exit the room.

If the detective tries to bait me by saying “Of course, the killer might be a woman,” I will not say something like, “What makes you think that?”

“I really couldn’t speculate about something like that.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t advise you on any matters, no matter how seemingly-unrelated to your case.”

I will not say “What difference does that make?” about seemingly-unimportant details that capture the lieutenant’s attention.

Things I will say to Detective Columbo

“I’m sorry to hear something’s bothering you. I wish you the best.”

“Yes, that baffles me too. But I must decline to speculate. That’s your job, Lieutenant.”

“Am I being detained? No? Ah, then. Good day to you!”

[Unpleasant silence]

“What an excellent question! Legally I am only obligated to furnish you with my name. Since this question was not, ‘What is your name?’ I decline to answer it.”

“Mm.”

“Am I in custody?”

“Not my job, Bob.”

“I’m afraid I must repeat my question until I can get a direct answer. Am I in custody? If so, I invoke my right to counsel. If not, I’ll say good day to you again.”

“Do you have a warrant, Lieutenant Columbo? You don’t? What a shame. I’m afraid I can’t let you in. Goodbye, then!”

“I’m sorry, I simply can’t help you.”

“What a provocative statement! But as I am not legally required to speak to you, I’m going to allow my sense of restraint to take precedence over my curiosity.”

[Pleasant silence]

“Detective, this is my lawyer. You may address any additional questions to his office.”

“Goodbye!”

“May I see your warrant, please?”

“Mm.”

“Detective Columbo, anything you may learn in the course of firing a gun into a box of sand in my living room during a visit without a warrant is certainly fruit of the poisonous tree.”

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