The Burglar Wore a Straw Fedora: An Illustrated Guide to My Missing Stuff
by Meghan O’Neill
An idiot in a straw fedora burglarized my apartment this past 4th of July, at 4:47 in the morning.
He was using his cell phone as a flashlight to rifle through jewelry on the dresser just seven feet away from my bed. He knocked over a bottle of pills. I woke up and saw him. I realized what was happening. I shut my eyes and pretended to be asleep. “He just wants your stuff,” I told myself. “If he wanted to hurt you, he would have done it by now. This will pass. He is wearing a hat.”
But rather than take the out my initial opossum instincts allowed him, Fedora shone his cell phone light in my face.
Directly in my face.
Let me repeat that: the burglar in the fedora shined a bright, blue-tinted light directly at my face, just before 5 a.m., while he was in the process of stealing my shit.
I lost it. On pure instinct, I opened my eyes and screamed, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! GET OUT! GET OUT!” Then I jumped up out of bed wearing only a t-shirt and underwear and chased Fedora out of my ground floor apartment.
As he ran out the front door, he dropped something on the carpet. I pursued Fedora two feet outside my door before he turned the corner and disappeared. I didn’t want to push my luck, so I retreated back to the apartment. He was moving pretty quickly for a chubby guy.
I locked the door and saw that the object he had dropped was a cell phone.
I assumed it was my cell phone.
It was not.
It was his.
Fedora had left his own phone at the scene of the crime.
In that moment, I felt like a fucking rock star. I chased a man twice my size out of my house in the dead of night. I sat on the bench throughout my entire soccer career and I have adult acne that will sometimes bring me to tears but a grown ran man scared from me. And he didn’t do it for any emotionally clingy behavior. But because I was not to be messed with. My adrenaline was pumping and I felt like I had to puke, but in a really great way. It was one of the shiniest moments of my life.
I was safe.
I called the cops. Set the paperwork in motion. Canceled my credit cards. Alerted the bank. Made coffee. Called my parents, who live 3,000 miles away. I did not puke.
I really held it together until they had me look at a photo line up of potential suspects. That’s when I lost my shit.
Have you ever seen a photo lineup? Why are all these men smiling in their mug shots? Do women smile in their mug shots? Who are these men? They looked awful. If I didn’t know which one had been in my room that night, then it felt as if they had all been in my room. That’s when the worst-case scenarios started to play themselves out in my head.
I felt angry to feel so lucky.
This idiot could have hurt me. He didn’t. But he could have.
While I (or rather, the authorities) have his phone, he made off with a bunch of my stuff. This is what I imagine he is doing with all the things he took to stop myself from imagining all the horrible stuff that didn’t happen to me.
His buddy replaces the cracked glass for $34.95. He is disappointed there are no naked selfies. He listens to a particular Dirty Projectors song on the Most Played playlist. He doesn’t “get it.”
Flat Screen TV
Yes, he burgled the one house in the neighborhood where the sound on the TV is broken! After failing to sell it on Craigslist he moves it to the toolshed, and it stays on the Animal Planet for the rest of its sad life. You don’t need sound to enjoy Animal Planet.
NARS Heat Wave lipstick
He sanitizes it with rubbing alcohol. Gives it to his girlfriend who deems it “too orangey.” Girlfriend gives it to her daughter to put in with her play make-up. Daughter loves it.
He would have clocked me at 130 pounds instead of 120. (Broad shoulders. Happens all the time.) Uses it to clean the grime out of the grooves of his dashboard after realizing he knows nobody that looks like me and has a rule against giving IDs to minors. We don’t need high school kids on the road, let alone drunk high school kids.
After taking it to a pawn shop and discovering it is worth all of $17.32, he gets upset and throws everything on the ground of the parking lot. First the TV, now this! My grandma Mary’s ghost will direct a woman to find it. The woman will take the necklace my grandma gave me. Years later, my grandma’s ghost will make sure the woman and I bump into each other in the Denver airport. She will graciously return the necklace, putting an end to a particularly bad week.
Throws away the top one, which is covered in grime. Puts the remaining two in a Ziplock sandwich bag and stores it in his gym bag, “just in case.”
It’s compatible with his PC! He is (again) disappointed there are no naked pics of me, or of anybody else. He reads the final draft of a script I wrote in college and agrees with my professor: it would have been stronger as a one-act. Copies most of my music and the one Top Chef episode from iTunes (why only one?!). Wipes everything, sells it on e-bay for $75 (plus shipping).
He will put these in his girlfriend’s drawer without telling her. She will not notice the 15-plus bobby pins added to her collection.
His Doctor recommends he not use inner ear headphones as they aggravate his tinnitus. Gives them to the neighbor kid who mows his lawn.
Water Babies sunscreen
He feels a moment of guilt as he thinks maybe I have a kid, but he didn’t see any baby stuff in the apartment. Maybe the baby was at its father’s house? He knows how hard it is to try and raise a kid on your own. He drives to his estranged daughter in Encinitas to make sure everything “looks all right.” He moves her garbage and recycling up from the curb. Drives home. They will not speak for another two years. Maybe three.
Photo via wicker-furniture/flickr.