Scene: Family picnic, Snyder residence
Victim: My niece
Suspects: My brother, my sister-in-law, a stray dog, cat, crow or
a really strong colony of ants
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, my husband and I hosted a picnic in
our backyard with our family and friends.
There was swimming, horseshoes and lots of food. Because the
temperature was in the high 80s, we spent a great deal of time
moving lawn chairs and following the shade. This peaceful, if
nomadic, picnic was the scene of a horrendous crime.
My niece, who is going to community college, has a part-time job
to help pay her expenses. However, she still lives at home with my
brother and his wife, which makes them responsible for her food.
My niece had to go to work later in the day, so her parents
promised to bring her a plate of food from the picnic for her
dinner. Her job was only about a mile from my house.
When 5 p.m. rolled around, it was time to fire up the grill.
While my husband and my brother put their grilling talents together
to cook some hamburgers and hot dogs -- and burn some others -- I
supervised the setting of the tables in the garage that would be our
I love it when my family and friends come to visit because they
all cook better than I do. The variety of salads and desserts was
All the delicious food did not distract my brother and his wife
from their parental duties, however. They must get food to their
My sister-in-law made a hamburger plate with a selection of
choice salads and desserts and gave it to my brother for transport.
Before he came back, we received a phone call from my niece
asking why there was no hamburger in the bun. She had apparently bit
into the bun and came away with a mouthful of bread and
condiments... but no burger.
They had somehow lost a burger between here and there.
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This did not make my niece very happy, but it provided hours of
conversation for the picnic attendees.
We informed my brother of the missing burger when he arrived back
at the scene, and he carefully combed the route he took from the
garage to the car. No burger.
He searched his car. No burger. We speculated on how bad his car
would smell if he somehow overlooked it.
We hypothesized about how a burger could have fallen out from
between the bun. We thought maybe it had fallen on the driveway and
my cat, a stray dog or an ant related to Arnold Schwarzenegger had
spirited the burger away.
We theorized that my brother might have gotten hungry on the way
to deliver the food. He has been on a diet, after all.
We accused my sister-in-law of never putting the burger on the
bun in the first place. She denies it vehemently. So, maybe she's
losing her mind.
...But if she didn't put the burger on the bun, the burger would
have been on the burger tray. There weren't any burgers on the
Hmm... Curiouser and curiouser.
Case files: The burger has never been found. My brother regularly
sniffs his car for rotting hamburger but has not once gotten a whiff
of anything gross. My sister-in-law still seems sane, though it may
be an act. My niece now has trust issues and is seeing a therapist.
As for me, it's difficult to build a case when a key piece of meat
[By LAURA SNYDER]
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist,
author and speaker. You can reach her at
or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more info.