Column Classic: To Catch A Predator

By Lisa Scottoline

I have a crush.

On a fox.


What can I say?

He’s foxy.

Let me explain.

A few months ago, I noticed that there was a baby fox running around my backyard, hanging out in some brush to the left, far from the house. He was red, fluffy, and adorable, with delicate black paws and ears, and I began to spend time watching him.

That makes me sound lonelier than I am. 

Also creepier, especially when I use my binoculars.

If I get a GPS on him, call the authorities.

In time, the fox grew up, going from cute to handsome and then some. Imagine Justin Bieber turning into Hugh Jackman, like Wolverine only nice.

A stone fox.

His body got fuller, his coat glossier, and he sprouted a thick patch of white fur on his chest. 

I like chest hair, even if it’s white.

I’m at that age.

In my own defense, I also like nature, especially when it can be even remotely classified as a Woodland Creature. 

Chipmunks, call me.

Also I loved that animated movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox, so it was all I could do not to catch the fox and dress him in a pinstriped suit. In case you were wondering, my thing for the fox has nothing to do with the fact that George Clooney voiced the fox in The Fantastic Mr. Fox. As we know, I’m over my crush on George and have moved on to Bradley Cooper, because crushes are highly transferrable, especially when they’re completely imaginary.

And also this is one smart fox. 

I didn’t know that foxes really were smart, but believe the hype. 

He darts away if I go out the back door, then sticks his head up from the brush when I go inside, as if he watches my comings and goings. He comes out only at certain times of the evening, when we sit and stare at each other from across the lawn. I begin to notice that I’m looking forward to our end-of-the-day staring sessions.

In other words, dates.

Words aren’t always necessary, between us.

Frankly, I’ve had entire marriages that were far less interesting.

By the way, foxes mate for life.

Unlike me.

My fox is so cool and elusive, the ultimate mystery man. Either he has intimacy issues, or I do.

Daughter Francesca came home to visit, and I showed her the fox, but she frowned. “Mom,” she said, “he’s cute, but stay away.”

“I know, he could have herpes.”

“You mean rabies.”

“Right.” I meant rabies. “I was wondering if I should put some food out for him.”

Francesca’s eyes widened. “Are you serious? He’s a predator.”

“So what? They have to eat, too.” 

“You want him around?”

“Of course. Isn’t he great? I mean, he’s like another dog and cat, combined.” I didn’t tell her he’s my crush. I didn’t want her to think I like bad boys. 

So I didn’t feed him, because my daughter is smarter than I am. 

But neither of us is as smart as my fox.

I say this because the other day he ran by with a bird in its mouth, and I realized that it might have come from my bird feeder by the back door, which I keep full because I like to watch birds, too.

Though with them I manage to check my romantic urges. 

No chest hair.

Although yesterday I did see a superhot blue jay.

Anyway I felt terrible about the bird who was about to be dinner, and worse about the fox. And now I’m thinking that all this time, on our nightly dates, the fox wasn’t watching me, but the bird feeder.

He wasn’t the man I thought he was.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline

Chick Wit Classic: Love

By Lisa Scottoline

Whenever Valentine’s Day comes up, the newspaper, TV, and stores are full of heart-shaped candy boxes, roses, and jewelry for “that special someone.” The holiday has become a celebration of romantic love, and that’s great if you’re in a romance or you’re married, which is like having an automatic valentine.

But not everyone is so lucky.

There are plenty of people who aren’t seeing someone right now, which is code for haven’t had a date in 55 years. Like me. And that’s okay, every day except Valentine’s Day. 

Single people feel like losers on Valentine’s Day. They’re left out of the hearts and candy. They become wallflowers at the party of life. 

This is sad, and wrong. I think it’s time to revisit the way we think about Valentine’s Day. So welcome to another trademark Scottoline time-to-change-things story, wherein my bossy and controlling nature works to my advantage, for once.

To begin, I did some research, and I learned that St. Valentine’s Day was intended to celebrate a loving man, a priest so sweet, giving, and devout that he became a saint. Historically, his day had nothing to do with romance. In fact, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages, when Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem entitled a Parliament of Foules, that St. Valentine’s Day became associated with romantic love. 

Aha! So the link between Valentine’s Day and romance is pure fiction. Chaucer made it up, and trust me, he did it to move some poems. Sex sells. Romance novels are best-sellers for a reason, and even my books have sex scenes, which I write from memory.

And now I forget.

Given that the history of the holiday is so sketchy, I feel free to write on a clean slate. In other words, I can make it up, too. 

And if you ask me, Valentine’s Day is really about love. Not only romantic love, but also just plain love. And if you’re not married or seeing someone, you can still have love in your life.


In my case, I have tons of love in my life. I love my kid, my family, and my friends. I love the people I work with. I love my readers. I love my dogs, cats, and pony. I love spaghetti. I love opera. I love books. I love Brad Pitt in Legends of The Fall

In short, I love.

If I were going to improve on that maxim of Descartes, “I think, therefore I am,” I’d say, “I love, therefore I am.” Or instead of Pope’s saying, “To err is human,” I’d go with, “To love is human.” Plus I agree completely with that great philosopher James Taylor, who tells us to “shower the people you love with love.”

So I propose that, on Valentine’s Day, we celebrate love. Shower the people you love with love. Don’t take each other for granted. Recognize that we grow more valuable to each other as time passes, not less. Raise a glass to someone you love, in celebration of an emotion that powers our best intentions, leads to our greatest happiness, and gives us the stories of the world’s greatest operas, movies, and novels.

Now, there may be some of you reading this who have no one. Maybe you’ve lost someone, or they’re far away, and you’re left hiding in your house or apartment, waiting for Valentine’s Day to pass. 

Here’s my advice to you:

Find the love in your life, because it’s all around you. And if you can’t find it, make it yourself.

Make love.

And by that, I don’t mean 

I mean, adopt a dog and love it. Buy it a pretty collar and walk it around the block. A cat works, too. Cats like pretty collars, even though they’re too proud to say so. Or get a fish. There’s no shame in love you can buy, even if it has scales. I don’t think goldfish get enough credit. Not everybody can look good in orange. 

Or read a book that everyone says is great. You’ll find a story you love, and maybe an author. Or if you don’t like to read, watch Legends of the Fall. You’ll love Brad Pitt, whether you’re a man or a woman.

And if none of that appeals to you, volunteer at a shelter or a hospital. Cook a meal for the parents at Ronald McDonald House, like a friend of mine did. 

Because the thing about love is that we can’t control whether we get it, but we can control whether we give it.

And each feels as good as the other.

Your heart doesn’t know whether it’s loving a man, a TV show, or a guppy. If your heart were that smart, it would be your brain.

All your heart knows is that it’s full and happy, and you will feel alive and human. 

And next time, you will have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

And, better yet, a wonderful life.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline