Yesterday, I caught a firsthand glimpse of “chain of custody” in action. Like many, I’d already learned about the concept from TV crime shows. I’d seen the importance of documenting a trail of evidence from crime scene to lab and all the way to the courtroom. As I witnessed, a proper chain of custody can make all the difference between convicting a perpetrator and allowing a guilty party to go free.
Sophia and I had Sunday dinner at her parents’ house. When we sat down to eat, her sister-in-law noticed an object I was twirling around my fingers. She asked me about it, employing the same exasperated and slightly condescending tone she usually reserves for her kids: “What are you playing with now, Richard?”
I held up the item – a circular, rubber ring slightly smaller than the palm of my hand – so she could get a better look. Her incredulous response followed almost instantaneously: “Why on earth did you bring a ‘Nuvaring’ to the dinner table?!”
A whosaring? I thought. I didn’t know what Gina was talking about, having interpreted the object in my hand as some sort of plumbing O-ring surrounding copper pipes. Until my wife leaned over and whispered in my ear, I had no idea an alternative to the Pill exists that’s inserted into a woman’s vagina for three weeks before being discarded and replaced with a new one. (I’m obviously behind the times on cutting edge birth control, no doubt due to my reliance on old-fashioned condoms and a dearth of commercials for feminine contraceptive devices on the NFL and NHL Networks.)
As I mutely contemplated the item at issue, Gina reminded me of her still-unanswered question: “Well, Richard…?”
“Oh yeah; your son gave it to me.”
My answer obviously caught her off guard: “My five-year-old son handed you a Nuvaring? Franco, where’d you get the … the ring you gave Uncle Richard?”
Young Franco, sitting across from her, casually proclaimed: “From Prometheus!”
No one felt more surprised than me at this announcement. Before my sister-in-law could ask the obvious, I cut in: “From Prometheus? Where’d the dog get a Nuvaring?”
Franco enthusiastically replied: “From the garbage can in mommy’s bathroom!”
There was no getting around it. A clear chain of custody led from my fingers all the way back to Gina’s trash can and, before that, to the original “perpetrator” herself, who suddenly turned a rich shade of scarlet.
Meanwhile, when realization dawned on me as to the object in my hand, simple reflex took over. The used Nuvaring shot skyward and a roomful of horrified eyes tracked its trajectory – straight into the salad bowl … while I sprinted off in search of the nearest hand cleanser.
sure looks like an O-ring, doesn’t it?