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Jewish World Review June 14, 2001 / 24 Sivan, 5761

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Don't forget to lock the door -- I HATE to brag, but nobody tops my husband when it comes to the home security ritual. He is a man who firmly believes that an ounce of prevention or seven automatic timers, an NRA window decal and two blaring radios -- is worth a pound of cure.

The security measures he implements before we go on vacation are something just this side of Alcatraz. He can batten down the hatches and wire the place for light and sound like you wouldn't believe.

My idea of home security is taping a note to the front door that says, "There's no expensive jewelry inside. The VCR is very finicky and the microwave is an antique. We've taken the video camera with us and the only drugs you'll find are some Vitamin E, a bottle of Advil and an 8-ounce bar of unsweetened baking chocolate. If you still think breaking in is worth doing 5-to-10 hard time, have at it."

My husband takes home security more seriously which is why he works from a formal checklist. Naturally, the particulars of the security checklist are highly classified, but the general outline goes like this:

Four days before departure: Notify all the neighbors that we are going to be out of town. Nothing like slipping away quietly. Three days before departure: Ask the neighbor two doors down to pick up the paper and the mail. When we are at home, we've been known to forget the mail from one day to the next, but there's something about not being home that makes it imperative to get the mail and paper into the house as quickly as possible.

Two days before departure: Mow the yard so it doesn't look like we're gone. You definitely want the yard looking its best even though you won't be around to enjoy it.

One day before departure: Give hanging baskets and flower beds a good soaking. The ferns have gone a week without a drink and the annuals lapse into shock at the first beads of moisture. The plants are highly suspicious, but there's not a home burglar who will suspect a thing from the good health of our geraniums and begonias.

Check smoke detector batteries. We won't be home to hear them if they go off, but those babies will have fresh 9-volts in them as sure as we're paying three bucks a gallon for gasoline.

Change message on answering machine to make it sound like a fraternity party is going on.

Adjust shades, blinds and draperies for maximum security. Stay up until the wee hours of the morning synchronizing timers from room to room so that entire house glows in the dark like Three-Mile Island

With the checklist completed, we back out of the driveway at 6 a.m.

"Wait!" I cry.

"What's wrong?" my husband asks."Did you leave the iron on? The coffeemaker? Is the dryer running?"

"No," I say, wiping a tear from my eye. "Just look at the place. The lawn looks great, the flower beds are gorgeous, there's not a stray basketball or in-line skate in the driveway. The blinds and curtains are perfectly aligned, the front walk has been swept clean and not a single flyer is dangling from the mailbox. You've really gone and done it this time."

"I see what you mean," he says, heaving a deep sigh. "Yep, it's a dead giveaway that nobody's home. Someone's sure to break in now."

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman