Reading for Treasure

When Smart Women Do Stupid Things

Posted at Dec 7, 2016 8:00 am

I’m sure you’ve all read a book or seen a movie where the main character does something so stupid, you’re reduced to yelling at the page or the screen.

“Don’t run towards the dark corner when you think you hear a gun being cocked!”

“Don’t go outside in you nightgown armed with only a weak flashlight.”

“Don’t—-Arrr. You did it, didn’t you?”

The experience is so commonplace that writers call it the “TSTL” syndrome.  Too Stupid To Live. And readers all know when a heroine is about to do something TSTL. Real people never do that! Or do they?

Consider how much fun a first date can be. Suppose you’re ready to go out with Mr. Wonderful. You’re excited. Dressed to the nines, with one foot out the door. But wait!

Did you tell anyone where you’re going? When you expect to be back? Does anyone even know Mr. Wonderful’s full name? What about the make and license number of his car? Did you leave any of that information with a family member, roommate or friend? Or does sharing that seem too much like being a teenager subjected to a parent’s grilling before a date.

True, unless you’re a character in a thriller novel, you date is unlikely to turn into a serial killer. But what if, on the way home from a romantic dinner, your car is sideswiped by a drunk driver, sending you into a tailspin before disappearing down a deserted road. A disabled car, plus a phone without a strong cell signal, could mean you and Mr. Wonderful are in for a long, not-so-romantic, night.

That’s why it’s good to leave critical information with a trusted friend before you head out to that date. If you don’t return as planned, someone can start a search. It could save you hours of discomfort by the side of the road.

And if your date does turn out to be a serial killer on the loose? Let’s just say that if he knows your friend has your back—and his vital statistics—he’ll be less likely to mess with you than to find an easier victim.

Whether you’re 15 or 50, the precautions are the same. Let someone know where you’re going, who you’re with and when you’ll be back.

In romantic thrillers and cozy mysteries, the guy lurking in the shadows is often a hero in disguise.  Not so in real life. Avoid being TSTL, so you don’t end up SOL, or DOA.

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