Saturday, May 19, 2007
I ENJOY INTERROGATION
I've always enjoyed interrogation. I know interrogation isn't something that's generally considered enjoyable and that some people complain that we live in a police state and all. . .but, I don't know. . .I've always found interrogation to be kind of fun.
First, they put a big white light on you and then everybody smokes. Which is kind of cool. Living in the Bay Area, it's neat to be in a place that allows smoking. And then comes my favorite part of interrogation--the questions!
"What's your name?"
"Florence fucking Nightingale, now give me a cigarette."
And so they give you a cigarette because, despite their job, they're really nice people. I usually take my time lighting it and pretend that I'm a combination of Mickey Rourke and Emma Thompson--half-American, half-British, half-male, half-female, half-80s, half-90s. Always keep 'em guessing, that's my motto.
"Now, dickhead, let's try it again. What's your name?"
"All right, Mickey--"
"I mean, it's Emma Rourke." If they go for this, I know I can have a lot of fun with them, because they're obviously pretty stupid.
"All right, Emma, where you from. . ."
"London, New York."
"And when were you born?"
"September 16th, 1956 and April 15th, 1959." I know a LOT of movie trivia.
"Is there something you're not telling us?"
"Yeah--fuck you. I should have been telling you that all along." And then I get all excited about my Miranda rights or some other bullshit. Maybe I start complaining about the weather, who knows. . .? But I stand up regardless and slam my palms down on the table and scream with the pride of Braveheart: "I know I get one phone call!"
"You already had it."
"Can I have another?" The answer is no, because that's actually specified somewhere in my rights. At least that's what they tell me. You know, the "only one" phone call rule. You know why they have that rule? Cause they're scared, man. They're scared they're going to lose their precious suspect with that one extra phone call. And who would that extra phone call be to if I did have it, I always wonder? Well, let's say I call one friend and he doesn't want to come bail me out. With an extra phone call, I could call another friend to bail me out. I tell him that the other friend didn't want to bail me out so the current friend has a greater impetus to be the "good" friend as opposed to the "bad" friend. I've established a polarity at this point and the polarity proves to work in my benefit. The "good" friend comes down to bail me out and we talk shit about the "bad" friend as we're on our way to commit another crime against the police state. Fucking police state.
It's also a faith thing as well. Let me explain what I mean by faith. When I say to Chad, for example, "I only get one phone call, Chad, so could you be sure to tell Jonah to look up the number of that lawyer Steve set me up with in LA--I think it was Mike somebody--and then have Jonah tell Mike to call Steve and tell Steve to relay the information to my parents, because I'm pretty sure they'll get visitation rights just in case they don't let me bail out of here tonight", this is an act of faith.
Because after this litany, you hang up. And start to worry. Worries that only true devoted faith in some sort of higher power can calm. Did I communicate my needs to Chad clearly and succinctly? Was there any excess narrative that could have been avoided? I start thinking back to my creative writing classes at community college and how I always had a problem with "telling and not showing".
But on the phone, you have to tell things. There's not much you can show over the phone. You can't "emote" that you need Jonah to get a number for Michael; you can't use "body language" to convey that Steve needs to talk to your parents; there's no "inner voice" that needs to "send out feelers" concerning bail or any of that stuff. Sometimes in life you do have to tell and not show. Your one phone call is one of those times.
You also have to tell and not show during interrogation. At least that's what the police prefer.
They snarl, "Look, fucko, stop interpretive dancing and just tell us--why'd you do it?"
And that's a really hard question to answer, and I'll tell you why. Let's say you did do it. You don't want them to think you did it. So you say, "I didn't!" It just naturally falls out off your mouth.
Now let's say you didn't do it. That's when you pause and start to think about how to say "I didn't!" in such a way that convinces them that you really didn't do it. As you can see, flat-out lying is mentally the easier of two choices. That's why it's always important to just go ahead and do it. I mean, you'll probably spend more time in jail if you did do it whether or not you said you did it or didn't do it. But if you want to fully enjoy the interrogation experience without worrying; if you're going to have to convince the police that you really didn't do it, my advice is to just do it, have your stock response handy, lean back and have another cigarette. Seriously, I've committed a lot of crimes and I've been arrested for every one of them--as soon as I say "I didn't", I'm done.
"Bullshit, you lying fucko!" They never make it easy. Anybody else--a priest, a rabbi, an imam--you say you didn't blow up a pizza parlor, that's it. What can they say? He said he didn't do it, he didn't do it. That's enough for me.
But the police. . .they're what I call real Doubting Thomases. Eternal skeptics. Something out of a Montaigne essay. There's a certain lack of faith in human nature that seems to accompany police work. And that's the price of living in a police state--nobody believes in sincerity anymore.
"Now what reason do you have to doubt me? Isn't 'I didn't' enough?"
And this is one of the definite highlights of being interrogated for a crime that you actually did commit: Every subsequent statement of protest from your end actually becomes easier instead of more difficult to make. Most of you would think the sheer exhaustion of having to feign innocence over and over again would wear you down after awhile. Not so, not so. You see, the key to freedom is inside you all along. If you're able to convince YOURSELF with each subsequent statement of protest that you really didn't do it--well, my friend, you can move mountains. Who cares if you're innocent as long as you believe you're innocent? You don't need approval from others. Although it is nice to get it from the cops when it counts. And if you keep on believing your own falsehoods, you might even get home in time to watch Jeopardy. Persistence, persistence, persistence.
"Listen," I say, taking a meaningful slow drag off my INDOORS :) cigarette, "we need to talk. . .I mean, you expect me to open up and tell you how I feel about this horrible mess with the bodies and blood and brains everywhere. This is very painful to me, too. And you start off with--I don't even want to call it a question, it's more like, well, an accusation--'why did you do it'? I mean, first off, that hurts. And I know you're mad and I know you're probably trying to steel yourself up and make yourself strong just so you can avoid being hurt yourself. So I'm not blaming you. It is sad when women and children are murdered and there's a lot that you and I both need to process right now so we can work our way out of this and hopefully emerge as better people. It may not seem like it now, I grant you. It may seem like you're never going to find the guy who actually committed this horrible crime. So I understand that for you I represent a means to an end. Some sort of closure. But I'll tell you something guys, honestly and openly, I need closure, too. But it has to be the right closure. And if you guys book me on this charge, you're not going to get closure. It may seem like closure, but if you look hard, there's still some openure around that closure. So my question to you is--and I want you to answer this as yourselves, not as policemen--this doesn't always have to be about YOUR career, you know--but you say you want to find the RIGHT guy. Well. . ." (If I'm really into it, I might start to choke up here)." . .what if I'm not Mr. Right?"
Their heart is broken. I'm breaking up with them. They know it. I don't want to hurt them, but I need my personal space. A big personal space far away from this jail, back home, watching Jeopardy.
Oh, no, they're weeping. Those aren't the strong men that slammed me down in this chair a few minutes ago and called me a long-haired murdering faggot, are they? They quiver like jelly. Emotionally, they're wrecked. They desparately need somebody to talk to--
And guess what? That would be me.
And that, my friends, is absolutely the best part of interrogation, bar none!
The grand coup! The tables have turned!
I'm the interrogator now.
". . .I mean, why would you think I did it in the first place. . .?"
I WIN THE GAME!
". . .do you think the relationship ended because of issues of growth and personal change. . .?"
FREE AS A BIRD!
". . .what are you afraid you'll find if you look inside at the person that you'll become if you allow yourself to grow and change and develop as an individual who has their own likes and dislikes. . ."
HOME FOR DINNER!
Interrogation: The World Series Of Persuasive Rhetoric
I hope you'll try it. I won't feel so alone. Nobody else seems to like it. I try to change and. . .I'm still the same.
Posted by Will Franken at 1:49 AM