Today I look like a typical mom - I'm wearing athleisure clothing, a nursing bra, and a look of exhaustion. My toddler is busy running around the play area at the mall as I pretend to watch him and write this article instead. Two birds with one stone - he gets worn out so he has a great afternoon nap, and I can people-watch other moms here with their friends. To these moms, I probably seem pretty average. They, rightly so, think that I have a stance on vaccination and that I've read about elimination communication. Perhaps they suspect I breastfeed my baby - or they just saw me nurse her ten minutes ago. But they'd never suspect that I am ten episodes into The Staircase and that I fall asleep listening to Forensic Files.
That last part really bugs my husband. "How can you listen to this like they're casually discussing the weather?" In my time delving into the world of true crime, I've come to a few realizations. First, most of the people that are into true crime are disproportionately female. For something that's so "gross", it's definitely a ladies game. Part of what makes true crime so appealing is the (illusion of) preparation. Yes, I am a woman walking alone at night - how can I protect myself? Better go listen to every podcast about a serial killer ever! Hey, it might not be rational but I can verify it wells up from a place of deep-seated anxiety and unavoidable vulnerability.
And while this is a pretty significant interest of mine - I watch or listen to something true crime related every day - it's not exactly the easiest conversation starter. Recently, while getting my hair cut, I was admiring my stylist's tattoos. A few of them were a big morbid, so I took a gamble and asked her: "Hey, are you perchance a Murderino?" When she looked at me quizzically, I laughed it off and started to explain. Luckily, she likes true crime and was interested. And she didn't think I was super hella weird for being deeply enthralled in the Golden State Killer findings. When I told her that "Murderino" was the pet name for fans of the My Favorite Murder podcast, she wrote it down to look up later.
Her ink tipped me off. But I, like many Mamarinos, don't have any ink. There are no tell tale sales one could pick up on that would give away my true crime obsession. For all I know, every mom in this playplace is also really fascinated by H.H. Holmes! And instead of thinking I'm weird and making me explain something that makes me sound like I have bloodlust, they might think I'm really heckin' cool.
Making mom friends is really tough. It's hard to put yourself out there, especially when the Mommy Wars means that any parent could be silently (or not so silently) judging you for your parenting choices. That judgment becomes even harder to avoid when the very thing that you'd like to share with people gives the "normal" person the heebie-jeebies. My husband doesn't share my love of true crime. What I really need is a Mamarino friend to obsess with. And I wonder - could that mom be here? Maybe she looks particularly unassuming and like a typical "mom", too! The only way to know for sure is to ask. Hey, are you a Murderino by chance?