Rob Hiaasen: Taking a strange, unexpected and personal walk through our newspaper

Rob Hiassen: The future looks to involve "24-hour leak-free security" and maybe a little sleepwalking

I was reading my newspaper the other day when an ad headline shook me to my core. My future passed before my eyes and points lower. Whatever self-doubts and setbacks that have dogged me were erased by this:

NEW ALTERNATIVE TO ADULT DIAPERS AND CATHETERS SETS MEN FREE.

Generally, I shy away from all caps (and New Year's Eve parties and poodles), but the news was so bold it deserved bold typography. Rather than having to wear diapers or use catheters, men can now use a skin-friendly pouch that "attaches to the tip of a man's anatomy." This, as my mother would say, is not dinner table talk. But by gosh, we need to talk about things that can set us free.

Believe me, I don't need "24-hour leak-free security." I'm not a long-haul truck driver who may or may not need an equivalent method for long-haul relief. I do have a longish commute to work, and I do like my morning coffee, but pouches have not entered into the equation. To recap: I don't need urological care of this or any magnitude, thank you very much. Psychiatry, sure, who doesn't? But not this really personal stuff.

Still.

How can you read such a thing and not see yourself down some long-haul, lonesome road from now?

Perhaps this cheery outlook explains a certain shortage of New Year's Eve parties.

•••

I was reading my newspaper the other day and saw an item about a missing 98-year-old man. Fortunately, the man was found unharmed and was returned to his relieved family. Police reported the man does not have any medical issues, but he sleepwalks from time to time.

No medical issues at 98.

98.

Just sleepwalks away from home sometimes.

I am profoundly jealous of every fact in this story. Setting aside for the moment the worry such a missing invokes, I daydream of the day when I am 98 with no medical issues and slip away in sleep state and am returned unharmed to my loved ones.

Oh, he just walks off sometimes, they will tell police. Better check the water. He tends to wander down to City Dock to look at the water and boats.

And there they will find me. Sleepwalking and daydreaming among all the boats in all the water.

Found smiling, they will report.

•••

I was reading my newspaper the other day about the FBI adding to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list the man suspected of killing his wife at a Dunkin' Donuts in Hanover two years ago. Police hope the renewed attention will produce fresh leads in the cold case.

The crime video is also back in the news with renewed views — many views. In the store video, the husband and wife are seen walking off-camera to a backroom and the husband emerging alone. For now it's the last image we have of the fugitive; it's forever the last image we have of his wife.

I watched the video as if vainly looking for clues. But what I was really watching was simply a woman walking with her husband to the backroom of where they worked. But she never comes back into camera range, no matter how many times I see the popular video. The story never changes.

For the people who knew and loved her, surely they must know countless strangers, such as myself, re-watched the last images of 21-year-old Palek Patel. If they could ask us why we watch, what would we say?

Rob Hiaasen is assistant editor of The Capital. Contact him at rhiaasen@capgaznews.com.

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