Monday, June 15, 2009


Good news. After exhaustive research, countless experiments, and what I can only assume to be gobs and gobs of our money, a team of scientists have finally postulated, theorized, tested, proven, and now, yes, ANSWERED a question that's been plaguing our fragile world for years:

We now know why some people like scary movies.

I know, I know. I heard it on the radio this morning and I still can't believe it. After all these years of wondering, all the hopes and dreams of lost generations, science has prevailed. Unfortunately, I was hard at work all day today and must have missed the ticker-tape parades and victory celebrations that must have assuredly been breaking out across the globe.

It turns out that some people are born with: the scary gene. Well, maybe the gene itself might not be scary -- I honestly have no idea, though experience has taught me that most of the tiny components of our existence are pretty creepy lookin' under a microscope.

But apparantly there really does exist some kind of rogue gene in the fundamental building blocks of certain people that makes them really, really dig "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." I assume that this was discovered by taking a random smattering of people, treating them to a matinee of "Hostel," and then rewarding their terrified state by prodding them with needles (a far scarier proposition than the movie itself, if you ask me.)

As it turns out, the test subjects who enjoyed watching hockey mask-clad psychopaths severing the heads of hapless campers were, in fact, carriers of an extra gene -- or, in layman's terms, "idiots." Those of us who enjoy our movies without the occasional disembowelment (those I like to call "sane folk,") were missing this genetic anomaly.

I am proudly one of the gene-deprived masses. Horror movies are NOT on my agenda, thanks much. I get no kicks from being creeped and/or grossed out. You would have to drag me to Hell to get me to watch "Drag Me To Hell." But that doesn't explain this past Saturday.

As a young(ish) hep and happening couple on the go, my girlfriend and I had ambitious plans for Saturday. A little shopping, a pool party for a friend, an oil change for the Beetle, afternoon church service, a nice dinner. A good plan, indeed. Too bad I decided to channel flip to the start of "Jaws."

124 minutes later, there we sat, still glued to the same positions on the couch, transfixed by a 34-year-old horror movie featuring an animatronic shark and Richard Dreyfuss (I'm not sure which is scarier.) How this happened is beyond me.

Had I seen "Jaws" before? Sure, but I think only the censored network TV version. This was the real deal, in high definition, with gallons of fake blood and severed limbs aplenty. And I was TRANSFIXED. Me, the wussiest man in America, who usually channel flips through horror flicks with eyes closed for fear of seeing an eighth of a second of the bogeyman. And I'm cheering, like, "Yeah, shark! Chomp that leg off!"

What gives? Do I suddenly have a new appreciation for horror flicks? I don't think so. I'm pretty sure that "Jaws" doesn't affect me because I am, how shall we say this, aquatically challenged. Despite my parents paying out the nose for swimming lessons, I never got it. I am, however, quite adept at sinking.

So I have no fear of Jaws. I can watch that shark dismember a legion of movie extras and not be affected. Why? Because I'm up here on dry land. Despite what classic SNL skits might teach you, Jaws will NOT be ringing your doorbell. If you wanna go trapsing out in the ocean, be my guest -- but don't be surprised if you return sans leg. Sharks can have their ocean. You wanna scare me? Pick a land-based fear.

Which is, of course, what happened to me the very next day. We decided to close out the weekend with a relaxing drive through the country, which landed us outside of Maquoketa at a place called the Hurstville Interpretive Center. Now, a normal writer would tell you what a wonderful and educational place it is, and how you can learn all about the colorful history of the Hurstville lime kilns while soaking up some native Iowa animal life.

Instead I will tell you that the Hurstville Interpretive Center is evil. Pure evil. They sucker you in with this wonderful educational experience and then you turn a corner to... a beehive. A live, active indoor beehive filled with tens of thousands of bees.

Okay, sure, they're behind glass and they claim it's an educational display for children, but WHAT KIND OF SICK PUPPY DESIGNS SUCH A CONTRAPTION? Everyone knows that bees are the scariest creatures on Earth. Well, okay, maybe I just think that. But looking at that hive was like making me watch every horror movie on Earth ever all at once. If you don't believe me, my girlfriend was kind enough to snap a photo at the exact second I saw the thing, and I look just like Hapless Camper #2 before Jason attacks them with a hatchet.

The display talked about what an important job bees have in nature blabbity blah blah. All I know is that I held my ear up to the glass and I'm pretty sure I heard 10,000 bees chanting, "STING THE FATTY! STING THE FATTY!" The only education I wanted from this is learning precisely how much Raid is required to commit bee genocide.

If there's a gene out there for dealing with bees rationally, I was tragically born without. Hurstville can have its history and its lime kilns and its (actually quite delightful) Interpretive Center. Just don't mind me as I appreciate it like I appreciate the ocean -- from afar.

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