From an early age, I was fascinated by ghost stories and read every Nancy Drew book in the library. I loved the adrenaline rush of being scared while nestled safely inside the dusty rose comforter of my canopy bed. I might’ve been a little young to read mysteries, but I was hooked and there was no going back to Little House on the Prairie once I got a taste of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street. I was consumed by these stories of best friends stabbing each other in the back — literally and figuratively. It was shocking to realize that people could act so heinously, even if they were just characters in a book. It made me wonder what kind of person could do these things.
There’s a fine line between being interested in true crime and being obsessed. That line is somewhere between watching an episode of Dateline on Saturday if you don’t fall asleep during the process of putting your kids to bed and — like me — binging every show and podcast that has the words “murder” or “mystery” in its title. My husband has heard me say “I know this one” way too often, and that’s probably why he doesn’t “get” why I’m this way.
This — of all the things we could disagree about — is a recurring argument in our household. It’s so frustrating that he doesn’t understand why true crime is compelling. Perhaps the way we were raised has something to do with it. My husband was a latch-key kid and my parents never, I mean never with a capital N, left me home alone when I was growing up. Maybe this explains why we have different levels of concern when it comes to safety. Or perhaps it’s because I’m a woman and I’ve learned to always be on alert in public, while he can go anywhere and never worry about his safety. He says paranoid, I say extra vigilant. But hearing the word “paranoid” makes me angry, and then I have to defend my stance that my safety sensitivity is keeping our family protected and if he says the word paranoid to me one more time, he’s going to wind up on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Kidding, obviously, but when he comments that I’m being paranoid after accidentally locking him out of the house it helps me understand the women who end up on Snapped. I can’t help that my survival instinct to always lock the front door behind me is second nature and I will not apologize for it. He says, “But we live in a safe area.” In my head I put air quotes around the word “safe” and my rebuttal is that there’s no such thing as a safe area anymore, to which he responds, “You’re watching too many of those shows.” “Or maybe you’re not watching enough of them!” I suggest.
I’d love for my husband to be more understanding that I’m obsessed with these captivating stories as a way of keeping myself and my family safe, not because I’m some “weirdo.” Also, I need to know what kind of crazy shit people are getting up to when most of the time I’m stuck under a parenting rock.
It’s not like I tell him he watches sports too often and that he should watch something else because it’s making him too competitive and prone to emotional outbursts. He has his thing and I have mine and I wouldn’t want to shame him just because he doesn’t understand why these real life stories fascinate me.
You see, true crime is classic storytelling. There are characters, a traumatic event, perhaps a plot twist, a climax, and a resolution (unless we’re talking cold cases and there’s no resolution — which always keeps me up at night). I understand the “characters” are real people with real lives and that’s what makes their stories so difficult for some people to hear, but that’s exactly the thing that draws me in.
My mother is a fan of true crime and so was her mother which means my daughters will probably inherit this gene leaving my husband totally outnumbered. Maybe by then he’ll understand.
Jewel Nunez is the humorist behind One Funny Mummy where she writes about the good, the bad, and the insanity of mom life. She lives on The Central Coast in California with her husband and two young daughters. Jewel released her first book, What It Means To Be a Mom, in 2021 and is currently working on a collection of essays about the lessons learned in the first year of motherhood. Find her at onefunnymummy.com and on social media @onefunnymummy