Illustration: woman wagging finger to a burglar after breaking into her house

Credit: Christoph Niemann

Trying to guilt trip a burglar when you catch him red-handed in your apartment is not a good idea, says Kathleen Tarr ’95, especially if you’re half naked.

If you suddenly see him on the other side of your bedroom door, don’t lecture him on the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr., whose poster is staring you both in the face. Better not demand he tell you how he could rob your apartment “knowing that its residents believe in the causes of black people.” If you are standing there in nothing but a T-shirt craving a pair of underwear like you never have before, don’t count on being able to scold the burglar until he breaks down and cries and promises to mend his ways.

But if somehow this happens to you, and you see a request on a listserv for true stories of audacious acts, then you have to send it in. Tarr’s story “Preaching to the Convicted” kicks off a collection of women’s writing, That Takes Ovaries!: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts (Three Rivers Press, 2002). Tarr, a legal consultant in Oakland, Calif., has also participated in readings in her area. She says most of her friends had already heard her burglar story. To her mother, on the other hand, it was news. “She was a little edgy about it, actually,” said Tarr. “She wanted to know what else I hadn’t been telling her.”