A Childhood Dream

My dream of being a private detective is the fault of Nancy Drew and, a bit more indirectly, my mother. I come from an avid family of readers, and my mother decided to pass this trait on to her children. Thus, when I was about six, my mother decided to convince—force—me to read a series she had loved when she was my age: the Nancy Drew series. While I was quite reluctant at first, meaning I fought tooth and nail against my mother, I had eventually given in. Sometimes I wish I had ended up hating the books, simply to avoid giving her the smug satisfaction of being right; regardless, I fell in love with those books. Nancy Drew was a smart, resourceful, tough, resilient heroine, and I devoured her adventures. While most kids spent their Saturday mornings watching cartoons or sleeping, I was begging my parents to take me to the library. I simply could not get enough of the rich and vibrant life of Nancy Drew. My deep love for Nancy Drew and her adventures culminated in my wanting to be just like her. So, I decided to perfect my detective skills. For instance, I decided to improve my shadowing skills—i.e. stalking—and followed family members around while taking notes. Sadly for me, their behavior was fairly mundane. Even so, no matter how dull I found them, I knew that a good detective must persist. This resulted in my developing a strong drive and determination. I began to grow restless, which is when it finally happened—my first case. I was beyond ready. So, at the ripe old age of ten-years-old, I decided the student had become the master. When I informed my parents of this, I was met with fake enthusiasm. Sure, their words said to have fun and be careful, but their tone of voice conveyed the truth. They did not take me seriously. Who would not take the four-foot-seven kid with missing teeth seriously? Clearly, I was a hard-boiled detective ready for whatever twists or turns my case might throw at me. This particular case came from a neighborhood friend, Drew, who needed help finding her missing ginger cat. Naturally, she asked me for my assistance. Ever the eager detective, I jumped at the opportunity. So, we set out on our bikes to canvas the neighborhood. After a while, it became clear to me that searching for clues on other people's property, or trespassing as some might call it, was probably not the best way to find a lead. Instead, we questioned potential witnesses and started with her mother. We asked her when she had last seen the cat, if her neighbors had ever had any problems with the cat, and if she could remember anything suspicious. To everything she said she did not know; however, I noticed she would not meet our eyes and kept fidgeting with her jewelry during questioning. I may not have known much about psychology at the time, but even I could tell that our questions made her uneasy. Unfortunately, interviewing our neighbors did not yield much luck either. They either did not know anything about her cat or thought we were selling something. After hours of interviewing and searching the neighborhood, I ended up looking on my own. It was then that I had finally found my first lead. Another one of my neighborhood friends told me that he spotted something somewhat resembling ginger fur through a hole in his neighbor's fence. As I looked for myself, I realized the animal was a cat that had a distinctive patch of fur on its forehead, matching the description Drew had given. I had actually managed to find Drew's cat! Unfortunately, I did not find her cat alive. The neighbor, in whose backyard the cat was in, was the owner of a particularly volatile pit-bull. Even from my obstructed view, it was clear the dog had gotten to the cat. With this sad information in hand, I realized I now had to tell Drew. I contemplated lying to her, but I knew that if it were my cat, I would want to know the truth. So, I rode my bike over to her house and told her what I had found. I explained whose backyard the cat was found in and described the distinct patch of white and orange fur on the cat's forehead. After I had finished telling her what happened, she was pretty upset, so I let her grieve in peace and went home. It was not until months later that I learned that the cat I found was not Drew's cat at all. Apparently, her cat had accidentally consumed rat poison that one of her neighbors had set out. Her mother found the dead cat and decided to bury it in the woods near our houses. Instead of telling her daughter the truth, she simply told her the cat had run away in order to spare her feelings. Though my first and only case turned out to be a complete bust, I never forgot the impact that case and the Nancy Drew books had on my life. I still have the curiosity and determination I fostered in those days. I owe a large part of my childhood to that teen sleuth and I will always be grateful to her.

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