Thursday, September 21, 2006

Feeling smart

I was watching the season premiere of Criminal Minds last night, and Dr. Reed was looking for a book that would help crack the code the UNSUB had sent to them. The team had already received various "clues," including a butterfly in a box, native to Great Britain. The combination of the butterfly, and the images of a blond girl chained in a dingy room by an obsessive captor, immediately reminded me of one of my favorite novels, The Collector by John Fowles. The kidnapper said the book "influenced many of my kind," and The Collector is one of the best insights into the criminal psyche ever published. One killer team (I don't remember if it was Bittaker and Norris or Lake and Ng) called their plan to capture and torture female sex slaves "Project Miranda," after the captive girl in the novel.
Dr. Reed eventually discovered that he was looking for a book published in 1963 (which made me more convinced that it was The Collector), and, based on a Chaucer poem the kidnapper sent to them, which contained the word fowls, Reed recalls a contemporary British author named John Fowles, and finally discovers that Fowles published a novel called The Collector in 1963, and the clues sent to them by the kidnapper, butterfly, music box, are all things that are collected.
Needless to say, I felt quite proud of myself that I had thought of The Collector long before Reed figured it out, even if it was only at the forefront of my mind because it's one of my favorite books.
On that note, ever since I started watching Criminal Minds, I've felt a similarity between myself and Dr. Reed. The official site for the show describes Reed as a man whose "social IQ is as low as his intellectual IQ is high." Reed himself says that everyone tells him their secrets because "I have no one to share them with." Like Reed, I have a tendency to rattle off facts about myself or what I know, often in a flat tone of voice (if I'm not shying away from conversation altogether), because that's the only way I know how to interact. My "low social IQ" has often led to me getting hurt, because I rarely know exactly what it is people, especially guys, want from me (sometimes, of course, it's painfully obvious what guys want, even to me). I don't know the right way to tell someone I want something more, or less, serious. In high school, my attempt to break up with my first boyfriend was a mess of stuttering and half-words, until I had to break away and write out what I wanted to say, and then come back.
I have always been able to express myself better in writing than in conversation. In writing, I can go back and cross out or delete the wrong words, and decide when a thought is "finished" enough to be made public. In conversation, I only get one shot, and after I walk away, I always think, like many people, maybe, of what I should have said. I should have phrased something differently, or told them something else, or not as much. But by then it's too late. Not that I haven't met some great friends recently, but my failures stay with me more than my successes.

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