In Chicago, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry. At the end of our visit there, I came upon an exhibit that was commemorating the museum’s eightieth anniversary. It was an eclectic exhibit that was populated with memorabilia that illustrated various aspects of the museum’s history. One such item was this leering, larger than life, animatronics version of Paul Bunyan, the lumber jack, who startled me with his booming voice when I walked by him. Versions of this display have been spooking museum visitors since the ‘50s.
We took down our Christmas decorations today. Anne and I did it together, which made the work both quick and pleasurable. After we were done, I ran to the grocery store. I was surprised at how crowded it was there, until it dawned on me that people were stocking up in preparation for tomorrow’s wintery mix. The forecast is for less than an inch, but in Saint Louis all you have to do is say the words ‘snow’ or ‘ice’ and people will rush to the store on-mass to stock up on milk and bread. I did get milk.
This American Life was on the radio as I drove to the store. I caught part of a story about a guy, who during high school was terrorized by a bully. Years had passed since high school, but he still could not get pass the way he was treated then, until the bully, Jack Abramoff, made the news with felony convictions for conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion—involving his lobbying activities in DC. The story-teller finally felt vindicated. He had found closure. He always knew that Abramoff was a bad person. Now the rest of the world knew it too.
On the way home, This American Life was still on. I tuned in during the middle of this segment, so I missed any setup that it might have had. I thought that they were playing excerpts from a podcast entitled, “Life without Leann”. The story that unfolded was about a guy, who had broken up with a girl named Leann. Even though they had broken up some time ago, he just couldn’t let go of her. Through his podcasts he had recruited a cadre of stalkers, who helped him keep tabs on the woman. The more of it that I listened to the creeper the story got. Fortunately that is just what it was, a story, a work of fiction by the writer, Larry Doyle. Here is a link to his website, with a PDF of the New Yorker story.
There are bad people in this world and you have to lookout for them, but much of what we fear is silly. Be it a carnival display or a story taken out of context, after the initial fright, we are often left with something that we can laugh about. The trick is telling them apart beforehand.