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Madeleine Begun Kane


My husband Mark is a Boy Scout. Not in the literal sense, of course. Although he claims to have earned badges for everything from knot tying to leading blind people across the street ... whether they want to cross or not. If my calculations are correct, he was doing this just around the time I was begging my parents to free me from Girl Scout servitude.

When I describe Mark as a Boy Scout, I mean that he's the most honest and generous all round good guy type person I know. Which will be terribly ironic when he gets himself arrested one of these days for something that isn't (but looks a lot like) a crime.

And there's no doubt in my mind that such an arrest will happen -- it's just a matter of time.

Why am I convinced he'll eventually have to call on my nonexistent criminal law skills? Imagine this scene:

Mark parks our car and notices that a driver has left his headlights on. Determined to rescue the driver and save his battery, Mark searches for a way to "break into" the car so he can turn off the lights.

What am I doing while this is going on? I'm pleading with him to leave the @#$%&#@ lights alone and warning him that if a cop or the owner shows up, nobody's gonna believe that he's ... well ... just being a Boy Scout. And that he'd better hope it's a cop, because a cop (even in New York) is likely to be less dangerous than the car's owner. Meanwhile, Mark pooh-poohs my concerns, reaches through a crack in the window, and strains to get his hand near the lock.

Such incidents have happened dozens of times -- a tribute to my non-powers of persuasion. Only the last time something happened that may (I hope) have convinced him that his goody-goody act maybe isn't such a good idea.

During the episode in question, another car pulled up while Mark was at the next car busy being "helpful." As the driver got out of his car I must have had a premonition. I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking or foreseeing, but something made me address this complete stranger in my most wife-complaining-about-the-husband manner.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with him," I said. "Every time he spots someone's lights on, he insists on trying to turn them off. One of these days, somebody's going to think he's a thief and arrest him."

My confidante, a strapping guy in his mid-thirties said, "You're absolutely right. I'm a cop and I was about to arrest him. I'll let it go this time, but make sure he never does it again. Otherwise he's gonna land himself in jail."

With that, he walked away, leaving me alone to berate my Boy Scout.

After that close call, I'm hoping that Mark has learned his lesson and that ... Hold on a moment -- there's somebody on the phone.

I'm back now, but I gotta cut this short. I have to drive downtown ... and bail Mark out.

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