I entered the bedroom with Manny, my one-person camera crew, in tow. Startled, my daughter removed her earbuds and dropped her phone.
“Dad, what are you doing?”
“Filming a new Netflix documentary,” I said. “‘Making a Teenager.’ It focuses on one man’s search for answers over a 13-year period.”
“And why, exactly, are you in my room?” she asked.
“We’re filming episode one, ‘Eighteen Shoes Lost.’ It raises doubts on your defense that you can’t find your shoes in the morning when I can clearly see three shoes scattered around the room.”
“Four,” said Manny as he lifted a blanket haphazardly tossed on the floor. “I’m zooming in now.”
“Dad, those shoes weren’t there this morning. I swear.”
“Young lady, are you suggesting somebody planted evidence? That’s a very serious accusation.”
“Whatever,” she harrumphed. “You’re gonna do what you want to do. You’ve had it in for me ever since I turned 11. And I find the timing of these accusations to be very suspicious.”
“You owe me money. Apparently, you don’t remember my text reminding you that my allowance is two weeks overdue.”
Just then her older sister, home from college, appeared in the doorway. “What’s going on?”
“Dad needs to get a life.”
“I wouldn’t step inside,” I said. “This is a crime scene. Everything must be free of contamination.”
“I was just looking for my shoes,” she replied. “I think they’re in here.”
“Wait a minute,” I said, as Manny continued to roll. “Are you saying that some of these shoes do, in fact, belong to you?”
“So you’re an accomplice to your sister in this matter?”
“So you’re lying?”
“Uh … yes?”
“Why would you make up a story like this?”
“You’re getting in my head.”
“Young lady, you are in deep trouble now. But you did the right thing by telling me.”
Manny and I turned to leave. The girls followed. “Now where are you going?”
“Downstairs to interview your mother,” I said. She’s the focus of episode five, ‘The Last Person to See Either of You Doing Something Productive.”
“She’s gonna hang us out to dry too,” my oldest exclaimed, glancing at her sister.
“Not necessarily,” I replied. “She might be your strongest defense witness. Trust me, this will be a fair and balanced documentary.”
Manny set his camera up in the kitchen. My wife checked her hair and makeup and settled in for what she assumed, correctly, would be a blistering line of interrogation.
“They’re good kids. They’re just misunderstood. But you want to accuse them of everything,” she said, before I had asked the first question.
“I’m not accusing anybody,” I countered. “But let’s look at the mounting evidence. You have dishes … in the sink. You have food spatter … on the counters. And we’re talking new and old spatter. Crusted spatter that’s been there for days, maybe even weeks.”
“That spatter could have come from anyone,” my wife said. “And why are you calling it ‘spatter’? Who uses that word?”
“Fine. We’ll call the food in question stains, particles, chunks. The point is, I keep finding leftover food that links these two with the crime of being lazy, ungrateful teens.”
“And none of those stains came from you?” she asked. “That looks like egg salad on the counter.”
“It’s not egg salad. It’s clearly hummus. I don’t eat hummus. You don’t eat hummus. THEY eat hummus.”
“Maybe we should let the dog decide. Put her on the counter and she if she licks it.”
“Our dog will lick anything,” I reminded her. Turning to Manny, I said, “I think we’re done here. Let’s move on to the next episode.”
“What’s that one called?” asked my daughters, who had been watching the exchange in between Snapchat sessions.
“Fighting for Your Reputation,” I said. “Just so you don’t think I’m jumping to conclusions, I’m going to interview anybody who can corroborate your accounts of these incidents.”
“That’s all were asking,” my oldest said.
“And remember, Dad,” her sister added, “the truth always comes out, sooner or later.”