Me and Mrs. Columbo

Over the years, I’ve had my share of heroes from TV and film. My idols have run the gamut from Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame to Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice. I’ve followed closely the adventures of Luke Skywalker, James Bond, and Christopher Reeves’ Superman. As an eight year-old, though I knew they were Christians, Roger Staubach and Tom Landry seemed to me like gods unto themselves.

I’m now 20+ years past my days of serious hero worship, and I feel pretty sure that – if we are supposed to turn out like the people we idolize in our youth – I must have done something terribly wrong. On the surface, I may give off the dispassionate, analytical facade of a Mr. Spock, but underneath an entire ocean of emotions is constantly churning. I’m not as cool or non-chalant as Don Johnson was in the 80s, and never will be. I don’t drink Martinis, shaken, stirred, or otherwise. And I’m pretty sure I don’t have the brashness of a Luke Skywalker.

If I had to pick any TV or film character that – like it or not – I’ve grown to resemble, it would be this guy:

That’s right, folks. I am like – nay – I am Lieutenant Columbo of Peter Falk fame.


  1. I appear to be a very reflective person, though sometimes I am a little slow on the uptake.
  2. I am generally a little clumsy, and feel quite awkward in social situations.
  3. I tend to fixate on certain subjects so much that – from time to time – I become seriously boring and even annoying to others.
  4. I often have a somewhat unkempt appearance, particularly where my hair is concerned.
  5. I have a job where I investigate things, ask questions of people, and try to make sense out of evidence.

Yet none of those comparisons are nearly as convincing as the final one:

      6.   I constantly talk about my wife.

Did you ever notice this about Columbo? Some new movie? He doesn’t know about it – but his wife, she tells him all about it. Art, music, literature gardening – he’s usually pretty clueless. But that Mrs. Columbo – she knows about those things. In some sense, Mrs. Columbo was the person who gave his otherwise quirky, quasi-introverted personality access to normal life.

Why do I say this?

Well…Sheila is gone this week – serving as a counselor at a middle school church camp. And do you know what I am doing? Talking about my wife. Small group? Wife. Facebook profile? Wife’s gone. Hanging out with friends from church? Wife. On my blog? Well, you’re reading it right now.

What is going on here? Its not like I don’t have other things to talk about. And its not like I’m some young, 22 year-old newlywed that is constantly pining for his beloved. I’m happy to know that she is out doing ministry this week, actually, and I don’t miss her in that way. (Well, I do a little – but thats okay).

Its more like this: when Sheila is gone, I feel like this guy who can blunder around and make it though the world okay, someone who is even competent in his own way.  But I’m also like this unkempt, mumbling guy in a trenchcoat, situated among the power brokers of Los Angeles – I feel a little out of my element. Something is missing.

When I am alone, I can live life in my own way. Yet there is a side of life which – when Sheila is around – she constantly opens up to me – a life of laughter and joy, of music and dance – one filled with the possibilities of many, varied friendships and relationships. A life of spontaneity where the plan for the day can be tossed aside on a whim if a more promising opportunity presents itself.

Funny thing. Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more like Sheila Ritchie’s husband. She is, frankly, starting to do a lot of incredible things – particularly in our faith community at Highland, but not only there – in other places as well. Its been a time where I’ve gladly stepped aside a little to get out of her way as God begins to do some really cool things with her.

There was probably a time when people thought of me and then thought of her as my wife. But not anymore. Now, a lot of folks think of her and – yeah – that guy over there who looks a little clueless, he’s Sheila’s husband.

As I already said, I’m more than okay with that. But…if I have to turn the tables on this trend, and describe who she is to me, I think I would now say this:

Sheila is my Mrs. Columbo. And I’ve never loved her more.


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