I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me.
Never – not once – in my life have I seen a mysterious puddle and thought, You know what? I should really stick my fingers in that and then smell it.
But I’m starting to wonder if I’m in the minority. Why else would so many of the different TV shows I watch have people doing just that? Particularly, of course, in crime fighting stories.
You think that the mysterious puddle might have bearing on your case? Just stick your fingers right on in.
Here’s a little spoiler alert – no crime scene puddles are ever going to smell good. And even if you are a genius who can use your olfactory sense to ascertain exactly who the culprit is, do you really want to walk around with your hand smelling like that for the rest of the day. Get a pair of gloves and take a legitimate sample, you weirdo.
Then there are the characters who even sticking their fingers in things is just not enough. So they taste it. In the pilot episode of Eureka, U.S. Marshal Jack Carter decides to lend a hand in finding a little boy who has gone missing. While looking through the family’s camper, he finds dark smears on the wall. When he is told by DOD Agent Alison Blake that it’s blood, he disputes her assumption by reaching out, putting some on his finger and licking it. Thankfully for him, it’s chocolate.
Now, the audience finds out that he did indeed see the candy bar wrapper before doing this. So, maybe I can excuse the deductive leap that you can’t find a candy bar wrapper and blood smears in the same place. I don’t think I, personally, am that confident. But even if I was absolutely sure it was chocolate, I still don’t see myself opting to eat sugary sweetness off a camper wall that was smeared there by a little boy’s sweaty hand. Not even to prove a point.
I’m a big fan of suspending my disbelief and generally find that I have a very easy time doing so. FBI show where agents walk around the street and chat about the confidential file they’re passing back and forth? I’ll overlook it. Every single criminal who is caught giving a full and detailed confession? Okay. Lab results available almost immediately? Fine with me.
But that this many law enforcement officers and consultants keep sticking their ungloved fingers in unknown substances? Nope.
How about you? Ever think, Well, maybe if I just touch that I’ll be imbued with the answers to all the universe’s questions?