Gina Barreca

If the FBI were coming to your home and office on an early morning raid, what wouldn’t you want them to discover?

If you’re Michael Cohen, personal lawyer, confidant and factotum of President Donald Trump, you probably don’t want FBI agents to find materials concerning illegal transfers of funds, the creation of weird LLCs or a record of payouts to women who claim they had sex with the man you’re paid to protect from scandal.

But if you’re me, what you don’t want is the FBI going through the top drawer of your office desk and asking, “How many pairs of reading glasses does one person need, anyway?”

Yes, I own several, or perhaps more than several, pairs of cheap plastic reading glasses. Yes, perhaps I do hoard them. No, there is no farsighted refugee family for whom I am covertly supplying eyewear until America remembers it is a land that has embraced immigration since declaring itself a nation. These are for my eyes only.

So what if the polka-dot cheaters are both unattractive and held together by Scotch tape? I am not throwing them away.

If you’re me, you don’t want the FBI riffling through your Woolworth’s diaries from 1972 where song lyrics, inscribed in peacock-blue Flair ink, frame declarations of vague sexual longing for Bobby Sherman, Gordon Lightfoot and a shy guy with nice brown eyes from math. A lot has changed since 1972; not all of it should be scrutinized by the FBI.

If you’re me, you don’t want them to read through the files of vitriolic letters saved on the computer under “Unsent.” I occasionally read them, usually when I want to send a similar note to the same person. I need to remind myself I decided to keep my mouth shut, and keep the email unsent, for a reason.

And if you are me, you seriously and certainly do not want the FBI to find the first draft of a manuscript you wrote for the “Silhouette Desire” romance series when you were in grad school and thought writing steamy mass-market paperbacks would be easier than teaching first-year composition classes. The simple repetition of the word “throbbing” makes it unreadable.

I posed the FBI-search question to my friends on Facebook (thereby simultaneously posing that question to thousands in Russia and hundreds at Cambridge Analytica), asking what they’d worry about with a no-knock warrant.

They were afraid the feds would judge the unkempt nature of their homes. Two women talked about their fear of the government’s disapproval of dead bugs — literal bugs. Says Jessica Ferraro: “The bug deathbed. The tray underneath our bug zapper. We never clean it, so many bugs, so creepy.” Says Jill Coupe: “All the dead ladybugs. Really, I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I LOVE ladybugs.”

Others were worried that they hadn’t vacuumed up the dog hair, cleaned the cages for the guinea pigs or kept up with the kitty litter, as if the FBI and the ASPCA had each other on speed-dial.

Rick Jones doesn’t want the FBI to raid his house and find Jimmy Hoffa.

Brooke Morrill so entirely doesn’t want them to find one particular electronic device, he goes so far as to taunt: “The remote control for my TV. You hear that, FBI? I dare you to come over here and find the remote for my TV!”

If the FBI showed up at Amy Hartl Sherman’s house, they’d be looking for the old Polaroids in her husband’s archive. “No negatives,” says Amy, “No cloud. No shame.”

Polaroids were mentioned by a number of other friends. Unlike Amy, however, they didn’t want their names mentioned in the column.

Also preferring not to have their names mentioned were the dozen or so folks who mentioned “toys.” I suspect they were not talking about Barbie Dolls and G.I. Joes, although I’m sure the Feds have seen it all.

Speaking of dolls, Brian Hewitt thought an FBI raid would be disturbing because the agents would turn over “a concerning lack of vegetables, an abundance of Diet Coke and an impressive collection of Russian nesting dolls” but maybe he was thinking less of his own apartment and more of a big, white house.

Gina Barreca is an English professor at UConn and author of “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” and eight other books. She can be reached at


Originally published at The Hartford Courant. Reprinted with permission from the author.

What I Fear, Should The FBI Come Knocking was last modified: by

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